‘Manmohan Singh was hesitant on Indo-US N-deal’
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not very keen on Indo-US nuclear deal as he was sceptical of its fallout on domestic politics, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is said to have claimed in her yet to be released book 'No Higher Honor'.
As per reports, Rice has given the credit for pushing the nuclear deal to then external affairs minister Natwar Singh, saying that he worked enthusiastically with US interlocutors and finally convinced the PM on the deal.
Rice’s book is believed to present the first insider account of the sequence of events between 2005 and 2006 that eventually led to the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The high-profile secretary of state further says that although the PM was convinced of the merits of the deal but he had his doubts whether it would sell in India, especially how the coalition partners, especially the Left would respond to it.
But once he had made up his mind, the PM did go all out to see the deal through – including a trust vote in the Parliament.
As per Rice, in July 2005, India and the US were set to sign a framework for the deal.
However, when she met Natwar Singh in Washington, he told her that he wanted the deal but the Prime Minister was not sure about its ramifications on domestic politics in India.
It was bad news for the US but Natwar Singh said that he would take the document to the Prime Minister and get back with the decision. Rice was also ready to give up and when she informer president George Bush about the development, his response: “Too bad.”
But Rice decided to give the deal a final shot. She asked Natwar Singh to arrange a meeting with the Prime Minister. But Manmohan Singh rejected the requested, saying that he could say “no” to her.
However, the PM did finally meet her and she used the opportunity to push the deal.
As per reports she said, “Mr Prime Minister, this is the deal of a lifetime. You and President Bush are about to put US-India relations on a fundamentally new footing. I know it’s hard for you, but it’s hard for the president (Bush) too. I didn’t come here to negotiate language — only to ask you to tell your officials to get this done, and let’s get it done before you see the president.”
Singh agreed, Rice writes: “Prime Minister Singh, a mild mannered man who speaks slowly and softly…pushed back but eventually gave the nod to his people to try again.”
His people finally ‘did it’ and the deal was done.