That the CPM leadership has strongly defended its unsuccessful attempt at pulling down the UPA Government on the question of the Indo-US nuclear deal is no surprise. The real debate within the party on the controversial decision to withdraw support to the Manmohan Singh Government last year is likely to take place only after the elections.
If the CPM does well and forges a Third Front government,its General Secretary Prakash Karat would be hailed as a hero. If it loses ground in both Bengal and Kerala and becomes marginal to the balance of power in the next Lok Sabha,Karat’s decisions are bound to be questioned.
The CPM manifesto,released on Monday,presents a reheated version of its ideological tirade against the Indo-US civil nuclear initiative.
It makes no mention,however,of the latest nuclear agreements that India has signed with France and Russia. That Paris and Moscow would not have resumed nuclear exports to India without the deal with Washington is,of course,a factoid that the CPM would want to simply ignore.
Buried in its ideological tirade against the Indo-US partnership in CPM’s manifesto is a little nuclear nugget that deserves wider debate.
The CPM says it will press the next government to strive for a denuclearised environment in South Asia!
That New Delhi must get rid of its nuclear weapons in a purely South Asian framework is a proposition that no mainstream Indian political formation has ever supported. The national consensus has always been in favour of total elimination of nuclear weapons in a non-discriminatory global framework. Put simply,India will not give up its nuclear weapons so long as China,US and other great powers have them.
Those who know the CPM will not be shocked to find that the party wants to perpetuate a permanent nuclear imbalance between China and India. To its credit,the CPM has been consistent in its refusal to criticise the Chinese nuclear weapons programme,even when it denounced India’s nuclear tests in May 1998.
Less known,however,is the fact that CPM’s fantasy for regional nuclear disarmament in South Asia is shared fully by the American non-proliferation hawks who want to ‘cap,roll back and eliminate’ India’s nuclear weapons programme. When the ‘non-pro’ lobby settles down in the Obama Administration,it knows whom to call on in the putative Third Front to revive their old anti-India nuclear agenda — the CPM.
(C. Raja Mohan is a Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies,Nanyang Technological University,Singapore)