The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party, parivar fete Jaitley

New Delhi, Sept. 16: Pleased with the resistance put up by developing nations at the fifth ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation at Cancun and India’s leadership of the Group of 22 countries, the BJP and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch have lavishly praised Arun Jaitley.

The law and commerce minister was one of the most visible faces and articulate voices at the summit that ended in failure on Sunday night.

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu said in a statement that it was Jaitley’s “tough and skilful negotiating stance” that enabled India to emerge as the “leader of the developing countries”. “The BJP is happy that India has become the voice of the developing world and the entire country is happy about the way in which the Indian point of view has been put forth,” he added.

Naidu said India managed to forge two “separate and influential alliances”, one on agricultural subsidies and the other on the so-called Singapore issues. “These alliances have altered the balance of power in the WTO in favour of the developing world. Earlier, we were alone on issues and today, the majority of the countries are supporting us. The BJP considers this as a major achievement for India,” he said.

BJP sources said their happiness stemmed from Jaitley’s “unerring” execution of the party brief that there should be no compromise on agriculture and the Singapore issues of investment, competition policy, trade facilitation and transparency in government procurement.

The Singapore issues get their name from the ministerial meeting in the island nation in December 1996 when the rich nations tried to widen the ambit of the trade discussions by trying to smuggle the four issues into the agenda.

“Elections are round the corner and the minister (Jaitley) was told nothing should be said or done which could expose the government to the charge of a sellout by the Opposition. We are happy he has kept up the spirit of Doha (where the last ministerial meeting took place in November 2001). The only difference was we were alone in Doha, this time we had the support of the developing world,” a member of the BJP economic cell said.

Naidu added: “In line with the nationalist policies of the National Democratic Alliance government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India refused to allow some developed countries to bulldoze a regressive agricultural agenda. The NDA government has successfully upheld the interests of Indian farmers.”

The Manch did not lag far behind in taking credit for forcing the Cancun agenda. Convener Murlidhar Rao said in an interview to the RSS mouthpiece, Panchajanya, that it was the “tough stance” of the Manch, which sent two delegates to Mexico as NGO participants, that prompted China, Brazil, Argentina and Malaysia to side with India.

“If a country like ours caves in to the WTO in the agricultural sector, then the heavily-subsidised farmers of the West will flood our markets with their produce and our farmers will not be able to stand up to their competition. This is the reason why the Singapore issues should be opposed,” Rao said.

It is only to be expected that a large country like India should take the lead in regrouping the developing countries to raise their voice against WTO’s discriminatory practices.

This is just what Jaitley did in Cancun,” Rao said.

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