Pranab's views on nuclear deal at variance with PM: BJP

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New Delhi, Feb 4 (UNI) The BJP today said the statement of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that India would face global isolation if the country did not sign the Indo-US nuclear deal was at variance with that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that it would not be the end of the world if India was not to sign the deal.

Reacting to Mr Mukherjee's statement in Kolkata, BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad said the Foreign Minister feels that India's image will suffer if it did not sign the deal and would face global isolation whereas the Prime Minister had stated that it would not be the end of the world if the deal were not to be completed.

Mr Mukherjee's statement seems to be addressed at the Communists and Left parties who had opposed the Indo-US nuclear deal because they did not want nuclear ties with the US. The BJP, on the other hand, was not opposed to India having good relationship with the US but opposed the deal as it was against national interests.

The signing or not signing of the deal should not be a yardstick for the relationship but it should be beyond that, he said. There was pressure on India to sign the NPT and CTBT in 1998 when the NDA was running the coalition but the administration never succumbed to internal pressures and kept the nuclear programmes running, braving scientific and economic sanctions imposed on the country after Pokhran II tests, Mr Prasad said debunking Mr Mukherjee's fears of global isolation.

The Government should take a firm stand as the 'flip flop' at the highest level will cause much more damage to the image of the country, he added.

Alleging that the Congress does not know how to run a coalition, Mr Prasad, referring to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's statement that his government could not sacrifice 'self respect' on the issue of the Congress' criticism about the DMK's stand on LTTE, the banned outfit of Sri Lanka, said the party and its allies should stop talking to each other through the media but speak among themselves.

DMK's softness towards LTTE was not something the Congress was unfamiliar with, but still wanted to cobble disparate coalition to check the BJP's growth in the country, he remarked.

UNI MCN/KAS SHB HS1748

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