How the CPM might de-nuke India

published on March 19, 2009

C. Raja Mohan
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That the CPM leadership has strongly defended its unsuccessful attempt
at pulling down the UPA Government on the question of the Indo-US
nuclear deal is no surprise. The real debate within the party on the
controversial decision to withdraw support to the Manmohan Singh
Government last year is likely to take place only after the elections.

If the CPM does well and forges a Third Front government, its
General Secretary Prakash Karat would be hailed as a hero. If it loses
ground in both Bengal and Kerala and becomes marginal to the balance of
power in the next Lok Sabha, Karat’s decisions are bound to be

The CPM manifesto, released on Monday, presents a reheated
version of its ideological tirade against the Indo-US civil nuclear

It makes no mention, however, of the latest nuclear agreements
that India has signed with France and Russia. That Paris and Moscow
would not have resumed nuclear exports to India without the deal with
Washington is, of course, a factoid that the CPM would want to simply

Buried in its ideological tirade against the Indo-US
partnership in CPM’s manifesto is a little nuclear nugget that deserves
wider debate.

The CPM says it will press the next government to strive for a ‘denuclearised environment in South Asia’!

That New Delhi must get rid of its nuclear weapons in a purely
South Asian framework is a proposition that no mainstream Indian
political formation has ever supported. The national consensus has
always been in favour of total elimination of nuclear weapons in a
non-discriminatory global framework. Put simply, India will not give up
its nuclear weapons so long as China, US and other great powers have

Those who know the CPM will not be shocked to find that the
party wants to perpetuate a permanent nuclear imbalance between China
and India. To its credit, the CPM has been consistent in its refusal to
criticise the Chinese nuclear weapons programme, even when it denounced
India’s nuclear tests in May 1998.

Less known, however, is the fact that CPM’s fantasy for
regional nuclear disarmament in South Asia is shared fully by the
American non-proliferation hawks who want to ‘cap, roll back and
eliminate’ India’s nuclear weapons programme. When the ‘non-pro’ lobby
settles down in the Obama Administration, it knows whom to call on in
the putative Third Front to revive their old anti-India nuclear agenda
— the CPM.

(C. Raja Mohan is a Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of
International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

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