Saturday, August 25, 2007

Communist Opposition in India May Save the World from the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) announced on Thursday that it will withdraw from Prime Minister Singh’s ruling parliamentary coalition if the Prime Minister moves to implement the U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement. (You can read the full text of the party statement here). This development is hugely significant because Prime Minister Singh’s majority in parliament depends on the support of this party.

While smaller Indian Communist parties had already announced plans to withdraw if Singh moves forward with the deal, the CPI(M) announcement is the most significant. CPI(M) controls 43 of the Communists’ 59 votes, and without this party’s support, Singh cannot maintain control of parliament.

The Left demands that Singh not proceed with implementation of the nuclear deal until a special parliamentary committee has studied its impact on India’s nuclear autonomy. The line in the sand drawn by the Left is the negotiation of “India specific” safeguards with the IAEA: If PM Singh moves forward on negotiating these safeguards, the Left has stated that it will withdraw.

However, Singh has taken an equally strong position, reporting to the Indian media that he told the Left earlier this month:

…it is not possible to renegotiate the deal. It is an honourable deal, the Cabinet has approved it, we cannot go back on it. I told them to do whatever they want to do, if they want to withdraw support, so be it.

It is not clear whether the Left is ready to make good on its threat or are just be grand-standing – the deal could collapse entirely or it may just be delayed. Either way, the Left has now drawn its line in the sand, and the next move is Singh’s.

For an examination of Singh’s options and the possible consequences, see the flow chart below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is purely grandstanding by the Communists. The communist party in India have little left to fight for. In the only state they have consistently controlled, West Bengal, they have started to implement pro-business policies. For example google Tata Motors and Singur.

The only ideology the Communists have left is anti-americanism. Every joint military excercise between India and the US, or signing of defense aggrements, is met by strikes and loud protests from the Communists, but everyone realizes that this is not serious opposition.

Unfortunately for the Communists, anti-Americanism, once resonant because of America's association with the old colonial oppressor: Brittain, no longer holds sway over the younger generation.