|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Discuss | Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop
'Finally, Congress party showed some spine'
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | July 12, 2008 00:28 IST
The Indian American community and US business that had lobbied feverishly for the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, are euphoric over the recent developments where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] has decided to go ahead with the accord come what may and even in the wake of the Left coalition partners withdrawing their support and leaving the country in a state of political uncertainty.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has also hailed India's decision to submit the draft safeguards agreement to the International Atomic Energy Agency to be circulated among its board of governors, calling it "a significant step," and declaring that Washington is "fully committed to do everything it can to move the pact forward to its conclusion."
Swadesh Chatterjee, coordinator of the US-India Friendship Council, the umbrella body of Indian American political, community and specialty organizations that coalesced to push through the enabling legislation through Congress as a first step to make the deal happen, said, "We are all so rejuvenated after the prime minister's decision to go through with it."
"We feel so good that finally the Congress party had the spine to understand what is good for the national interest and call the bluff of the Left," he told rediff.com.
Thus, he said it is unlikely the Left would be in a position to "pull the government down now. So, I am really delighted at the news that the government is moving forward, because as you know, and as I had told you, the community had given up all hope."
Chatterjee reiterated, "So, it is wonderful that finally it is coming through, although there are tremendous task ahead to get it through the Congress and put in on the calendar before the Congress adjourns for the year. But, at least, things are moving."
He said he had already "started to mobilize the community and we have begun to have conference phone calls with people and all of them are feeling really good and as we did earlier, we are going to be working together and I've already had a long meeting with the US-India Business Council and the Coalition for Partnership with India and all the other people and we're hopeful that we can pull it through."
Chatterjee, continued to acknowledge, "It will be a humungous task mostly because of the logistical issue of bringing it back to Congress in time for it to be voted on. I have already spoken to (Senator Joe) Biden's people and I've talked to (Congressman) Gary's (Ackerman) people and I am going to go and see all of them next week."
Biden is the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Ackerman is a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on South Asia.
"So, we have started the process already and we are going to bring back all the people -- all the community leaders to once again put their shoulder to the wheel to get this done," he said.
Chatterjee conceded that "true, they were all disappointed, frustrated, angry when things were not moving in Delhi, but we are Indians after all, and when it comes to the motherland, we always come forward. So, I am confident we can bring all the people back together."
Chatterjee said that "we are also trying very hard and trying to put some pressure on (Secretary of State Condoleezza) Condi Rice to bring back (former Under Secretary of State and chief US negotiator of the agreement) Nick Burns back as a consultant to pull it through because he's the guy who understands this deal inside and out and he understands the NSG and the entire process and it's very close to his heart."
"He's worked very hard on this and he has great rapport with the key players in Congress and so, he's the ideal person to have at this moment to get it done and so it's crucial that we have him back," he added.
Ron Somers, president of the USIBC, also told rediff.com that "we have been closely following the breaking developments, including the very positive joint statement by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh," after their meeting on the outskirts of the G-8 Summit in Japan [Images] last week.
Somers argued that "this is just a huge and extremely important and historic opportunity, not just for our countries but for the globe. Indeed, this is an energy security imperative and it's an environmental imperative good for all nations."
"So, it's about time that India's nuclear isolation is ended and US industry will be front and centre on Capitol Hill when the ball returns into our court to ensure speedy ratification of the 123 Agreement," he reiterated.
Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop