Bharat Ratna for Bush, says Congress spokeperson

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | February 13, 2009 19:25 IST

Sushma Swaraj, spokesman of the Bharatiya Janata Party, took a dig at Congress spokeperson Abhishek Singhvi for saying that the Bharat Ratna should be awarded to George Bush [Images]. " They cannot give a Bharat Ratna to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but the Congress is thinking in terms of giving one to George Bush. That is how the United Progressive Alliance government functions. They want show that the nation is devoid of Indian heroes," she said at her press conference in Parliament house.

"The BJP can distort that statement to their advantage. I am sure journalists are not seeking my explanation," Singhvi said. He claimed that the statement was made in a jocular way.

"I had gone there not as an official spokesman of the Congress party but as the chairman of the Indo-US forum," Singhvi said.

According to Singhvi, in sixty years of India's independence George Bush has done the maximum for India. If you compare the work of the Republican presidents againt the Democrats, it is the former which has done better job as far their relations with India is concerned while the Democrats indulged in India bashing. So keeping that in mind even if for for our narrow considerations and we should award a Bharat Ratna to George Bush who bettered Indo-US ties.

Singhvi was speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry where the American ambassdor David Mulford, was presenting a more realistic picture of Indo-US relations.

He said that Obama [Images] regime's focus Afghanistan policy was indeed a matter of concern for India.

"This could lead to a US reliance on Pakistan to tackle the Afghan problem. Our past experience has shown that Pakistani army has always tended to derive maximum benefits for itself from such situations. This can be inimical to the existing warm Indo-US relations. Historically, Democrats have been more intrusive and aggressive on Kashmir issue, which Pakistan and its army can make use of for its own benefit" Singhvi noted.

Touching upon the broader contours of Indo-US relations under Obama administration, Mulford said, "the recent years and the level of cooperation between India and the US has ensured that the relations both the countries have established, will not be reversed under the new regime. The US is acutely aware of the importance of engaging India and its businesses. I am sure Indo-US relations will emerge as the most important relationship for the US in the years to come under President Obama's rule."

Hours after Singhvi's advocacy of Bush for the highest civilian award of the country, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi criticised the statement saying he needs to becareful making comments even in a personal capacity. "I expect the Congress spokesman to be more careful in such remarks even if they are madeĀ  in personal capacity as they reflect on the party. Enemies of Congress can interpret them differently and therefore he needs to be careful even if he speaks in a lighter vein," Ravi told PTI.