It is time to launch a massive campaign not just against the "notorious nuclear deal" as Prakash Karat put it, but against the agencies of disinformation and lying that predominate the corridors of power. Quick Comment.
In November 2007, the Indian government formed a UPA-Left Committee to look into the aspects of the nuclear deal from a political, strategic and technical perspective. The committee was supposed to discuss the features of the deal before ultimately making the final decision whether or not to operationalise the deal. It was seen as a face saving device between two allies, who had virtually diametric opposite views on the deal. While the Left had not let the government to proceed any further, the government got a valuable concession from the left to allow it to talk to the IAEA to pencil a safeguards agreement. The concession came with the caveat that the negotiated agreement be then brought into committee, before any decision to provide it to the board of governors of the IAEA is made.
It turned out that neither was the text brought to the purview of the committee (the government instead presented a summary), nor was the government willing to place the text for discussion, terming that the text was classified. Instead the government tried to play a new tune, 'let us go to the IAEA board of governors, we will bring back the deal to the parliament after the up-down vote in the US Congress at which point the parliament's decision to accept it or not will be considered'. This refrain was confirmed by the prime minister himself in his statements. Clearly this refrain was not just against the grain of the UPA-Left Committee's written agreement, it was a blatant violation. Obviously the government had lied when it said that it wanted the text to be discussed before sending it to the board of governors.
The Text is "classified"?
When pointed out that the text of the IAEA safeguards agreement was not available in the public domain (the features of the safeguards agreement and the necessity to verify it's contents need not detain us in this article; they have been laid out in a statement of the left parties and also by a statement by eminent nuclear scientists circulated in the media), the government mentioned that it was not possible, as one had to "join government" to get to see the text of the agreement. Why is the government making this classification? After all texts/protocol negotiated with the IAEA by other countries (most prominently, the government's guru these days, the US) are available in the public domain and the IAEA itself has gone on record saying that it has not classified the text. Clearly the government has something to hide. Is it the fact that the text has clauses that violate the understanding provided by the prime minister in the house when he provided clear cut assurances about "full civil nuclear cooperation"? We cannot but speculate as the government is not keen at all to provide the text for us to make a reasoned conclusion.
The next lie was even more damning. Just the day when the government effectively became a "minority" after the left parties withdrew support, the external affairs minister gave an assurance in public, that the government will not go to the IAEA board of governors before winning a vote of confidence as required once the president formally asks the government to face parliament on this issue. Fair enough, we thought, the government had spine and was willing to the right thing. We were wrong. The government, atleast the external affairs minister, simply lied. It was revealed by the IAEA itself in a press release on the 8th of July that the Indian government has indeed requested the IAEA secretariat to circulate the draft treaty for consideration of its board of governors. Clearly, the Indian government and its representatives in the cabinet had lived upto their lying credentials yet again.
What explains these public displays of bluffing and lying to the nation, in a matter of few days? It is not very difficult to surmise from where they have learnt this habit: from the perpetual liar and head of the US government, George Bush. Just a day before, Manmohan Singh emphatically said that India should stand "head-to-head and shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States". In a prelude to such "standing", Manmohan Singh's government now stands toe-to-toe and heart-to-heart with the biggest liar (ask Center for Public Integrity which documented more than 900 public lies by the George Bush government leading up to the horrible Iraq occupation). It is no secret that the US administration is teaching our dishonored government to just fib off right in the eyes of the public hawks of Indian democratic institutions. It is after all easy to do that. Very few newspapers/ news channels (such as The Hindu) will question these lies by pointing them out. After all, the corporate press is gaga about sending the nuclear deal to the next stage, "written agreement" may go to hell. And what if the IAEA safeguards text is not available in the public domain, eh?, they would not even ask. After all they have already been standing heart-to-heart and toe-to-toe with the American press in the way things are reported.
It is time to launch a massive campaign not just against the "notorious nuclear deal" as Prakash Karat put it, but against the agencies of disinformation and lying that predominate the corridors of power. It is time that democrats, progressives and believers in the spirit of constitutionalism join hands together in this endeavor.