Indian leaders welcome nuke deal amid criticism from opposition
Leaders from India's ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on Thursday welcomed the passage of the India-US civilian nuclear deal by the US Congress while domestic opposition leaders termed it a "surrender to US imperialism."
"It is a historic moment," Indian National Congress party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in New Delhi. "The deal is in the interest of India. It is a recognition of India as a superpower and the triumph of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's vision."
Other leaders, such as Science Minister Kapil Sibal, said the pact would allow India to meet its soaring energy needs and enable the country to join the elite nuclear club without having signed pacts like the Non-Proliferation Treaty, reported dpa.
The reactions came hours after the US Senate approved the deal, which would allow India access to US nuclear materials and technology, with a resounding 86-13 majority.
The bill now goes to US President George W Bush to be signed into law.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected in New Delhi Friday or Saturday and was scheduled to sign the agreement with her Indian counterpart, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
But the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and left-wing parties - once partners of the UPA before they quit the ruling coalition over the nuclear deal - lashed out at Singh's government.
"The government has gone for a blind trap knowingly and cannot get out of it," BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said. "The deal has been done at the cost of the country's sovereignty and nuclear independence."
Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Prakash Karat said signing the agreement would be tantamount to a "complete surrender" to the United States and a "betrayal" of India's vital interests.
His fellow party member Nilotpal Basu told reporters that left-wing parties would observe the day that the deal is signed as a "black day" to protest the "surrender to US imperialism."