New Delhi, March 1 : The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has reacted strongly to former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's remarks that the BJP, which is now opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal, was ready to sign it with much less when it was in power.
The BJP has accused Talbott of being ignorant.
After India's nuclear tests at Pokhran in 1998, Talbott had conducted a two-year long dialogue with Jaswant Singh. He was a strong voice in America's powerful non-proliferation lobby.
Talbott's comment came just a few days after L K Advani's meeting with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates where he had said the BJP opposed the deal because of proposed curbs on India's nuclear autonomy.
Talbott said in an interview with a leading news channel that India should not further delay its decision on the nuclear deal, as the new administration after November 4 elections might not be as enthusiastic to sign it.
''No, no, no. That's not the case. It's inherently complicated, but let me just say this, you are of course pointing out the obvious, that is, that the Clinton Administration negotiated with the BJP-led Government on the nuclear issue and that knowing what the goals of my Indian interlocutors at work at that time and seeing how those goals compare with the current Indian Government has gotten out of President George W Bush by way of the civil nuclear deal, I can't understand how the BJP could oppose the deal as strongly as it obviously does. I have chance before I leave to get a first hand impression of that,'' said Strobe Talbott.
When asked about his experience with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on the deal and whether they would have settled for less than what the current nuclear deal is giving, Talbott said: "I think half the Clinton Administration had been prepared to offer the BJP led government that we were dealing with, the deal that President Bush was willing to make with Manmohan Singh and company. The Indian side would have gone for it. They also would have been astonished given what they knew about our position on all the issues involved.