Gandhi defends India-U.S.
nuclear agreement


Major opposition in India over deal with U.S.; pact’s
ability to pass through India’s parliament in serious doubt;
government releasing prisoners and bribing members of
minor parties in effort to swing election; Sonia Gandhi
denies deal has sacrificed ‘our independence in foreign
policy’ despite the known tie of pact to India’s votes
against Iran at IAEA meetings


Chris Morris

BBC News, Delhi
July 17, 2008


The president of India's governing Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, has issued a strong public defense of the controversial nuclear deal with the U.S.

Mrs. Gandhi was addressing her first public rally since left wing parties withdrew support for the government because of opposition to the deal.

The government has been forced to seek a confidence vote over the issue in parliament next week.

The accord would give India access to U.S. civilian nuclear technology.

But the results of the parliamentary vote could be close - the nuclear deal with the U.S. is a new dividing line in Indian politics.


Sonia Gandhi said it would help give India energy security in years to come and she dismissed accusations that the Congress party is selling out India's national interest.

"Let me state before you, let me state before the whole country categorically there is no question, there is no question of compromising on our security on our nuclear program and on our independence in foreign policy," she said.

Congress now has to prove that it still has a majority in parliament giving it the authority to push ahead with the nuclear deal.

The government and the opposition have been trying desperately to entice smaller parties and independents who hold the balance of power.

Every vote will count.

Six members of parliament are currently in prison and will be allowed out to participate in next week's debate and the Indian cabinet has approved a proposal to rename an airport after the father of the leader of one small party which is being wooed by both camps.

A few days ago it looked like a safe bet that the government would survive next week's confidence vote but the margins are getting smaller all the time.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/17 12:00:39 GMT