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Nuclear deal worth the risk, says Rahul Gandhi

By Santosh K Joy in Amethi
July 16, 2008 17:06 IST
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Hailing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 'vision, tenacity and leadership' over the India-United States nuclear deal, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that the accord was worth the risk and "if the government falls in the process so be it".

Coming out fully in support of the deal he, however, expressed confidence that the government would secure the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.

"For ideological or political reasons, the deal is being opposed. But the Congress has taken a decision that is correct. Sometimes in life, risk has to be taken. The leadership the Prime Minister is showing...He thinks it is in the interest of the country. If the government falls in the process so be it," Gandhi told reporters.

"When you are convinced that it is in the interest of the people of the country, numbers don't matter. This decision that the Prime Minister has taken, in my view, is the right decision. We are going to win the vote," he said.

Describing the nuclear deal as fundamental to India's energy problems and one that can make the country a global player, he said, "I also believe that you need guts to do it. I appreciate it. I would tell him to take the risk again, again and again. That is leadership."

In a reference to Left parties, which have withdrawn support to the government, he said they may be opposing it for political reasons but the deal was absolutely in the interest of the country.

Gandhi said, "The nuclear deal is fundamental for India's future. It is fundamental for energy, the power situation in Uttar Pradesh. It is fundamental for the nuclear industry. It's important for India to become a large player. No right thinking person will argue that it is bad for the country."

He said that there was support for the deal across the political divide.

"There are people in Bharatiya Janata Party and other parties who are 100 per cent for the deal. I don't understand why there are people opposing the deal. So if somebody argues that it is bad, then there is a feeling it is political."

"It is not only Rahul Gandhi but every young person in the country who is bound to support the deal because it is going to change the future face of the country," he said.

When it was pointed out that this had led Congress to align with the Samajwadi Party, a party it had opposed earlier and the new alignment may hurt Congress in the long run, he said, "My point is, we will stake whatever we can."

On the opposition to the nuclear deal, Gandhi said the telecom and IT revolutions -- launched by his late father Rajiv Gandhi- -- in the 1980s had faced similar opposition.

Gandhi said, "The deal would make India a global player in the nuclear industry. The situation today is the same like the 1980s when the telecom revolution was set in, followed by the computer and IT revolutions."

"I remember during my childhood when my father was doing this (ushering in the computer and IT revolution) people used to say it is completely ridiculous. Various arguments were given. Some said how do the farmers gain from it and today almost everyone has a computer. And some have it on their watches," he said.

The scion of the Gandhi family said he considered the nuclear deal 'fundamental' for the country as it goes into future. "It is a landmark for the energy situation and the nuclear industry is going to benefit all of us in employment, especially for the youth," he said.

He praised the Prime Minister for his stand on the nuclear deal. "I am proud that Manmohan Singh has given the country vision, tenacity and leadership. Today you may say that it only involves generation of three percent of energy but you never know our bright scientists would make it 70 per cent. I believe in this," he said.

"The young leaders across the party line who have talked to him have been supportive of the deal. I have talked to many young leaders across the parties. They support the deal and are convinced about it. They say they don't understand why their leadership is opposed to it," he added.

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Santosh K Joy in Amethi
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