New Delhi, Nov 17: Former Prime Minister and J D (S) supremo, H D Deve Gowda, has demanded setting up of a 'national committee' comprising of representatives from a large gamut of political parties, scientists, defence forces, energy experts, media, foreign affairs and strategic experts, academicians, and eminent citizens to derive an opinion about the utility of having the contentious Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation.
Deve Gowda in an interview to a national newspaper told that "Any decision on the nuclear deal should be taken within the parameters of the recommendations of such a national committee."
"If even after that there is no consensus, let the people of India decide. Let there be the nation's first ever referendum on this issue," he adds.
Gowda, whose party formed the coalition government with the BJP in Karnataka, after withdrawing its support from the Congress coalition in the State nearly two years ago, states: "The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and its Left allies are behaving as if only they have to decide on an issue concerning the future of the nation, which has also elected to Parliament several members like us in order to safeguard national interest. The nuclear deal is no more an ego issue between the ruling allies."
Commenting on the deal, Gowda says that he has never seen so much heat generated over any such bilateral agreement before.
"The deal pertains not only to our relationship with a country that is not known for its respect for the sovereignty of other nations, but also to our energy security, our hitherto consensual foreign policy, and above all, our right to make independent decisions," he says.
Calling himself as 'not a prolific writer', Deve Gowda says that he was compelled to pen his thoughts since he did not get an opportunity to express his opinion on the issue in the Parliament.
"What we are witnessing today is rigmarole, a circus, involving the ruling partners and the rest of the nation, including the opposition, helplessly watching it as spectators," he says, adding: "All the parties appear to be confused over what exactly this nuclear deal is all about and what the opposition to it is all about."
"While some parties want to project the nuclear deal as a great achievement, others want to highlight it as a great betrayal. Now, it certainly cannot be both. The truth apparently lies somewhere in between," he writes.
Deve Gowda has put forth several questions over the deal, particularly those raised by nuke deal opponents such as whether there are other less harmful cheaper alternatives, including non-conventional energy sources, which can be tapped effectively at a fraction of the cost and can take care of country's energy security needs, whether the US Hyde Act supersede international agreements, and whether the growing proximity to the US and Israel would impede India's traditionally strong relationship with the Islamic countries.