The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM reads Gita to comrades
- Singh borrows a leaf from Advani’s book

New Delhi, Oct. 1: When in trouble, quote the Gita.

Politically they are poles apart, but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Opposition leader Lal Krishna Advani seem to have a common strategy when the going gets tough.

When Advani was under fire from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for praising Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, he quoted the Gita. Singh, who is pitted against the Left ' more specifically, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat ' for India’s vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency, did what the BJP chief had done a few months ago.

“Nothing surprises me,” he told reporters, asked about Karat’s direct attack on him in an article in People’s Democracy, the CPM mouthpiece. “The Gita says one must do one’s duty, unmindful of the consequences.”

Karat’s article, which will appear in the forthcoming issue of People’s Democracy, holds the Prime Minister “directly responsible” for the vote with the European Union and the US on the resolution by the atomic watchdog.

The vote, Karat said, was a “major step” that “adversely affects India’s independent foreign policy and its status in the non-aligned movement”.

The CPM leader, who was in Calcutta today for a convention, warned that Left parties would not tolerate “this new direction of foreign policy” and urged the government to “undo the damage done” by the time the IAEA board met again in November.

“India should state clearly that the Iranian nuclear issue is not a fit case for referring to the UN Security Council. Iran has the right to develop its nuclear technology within the framework of the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) and IAEA safeguards,” Karat said.

Singh, who got a phone call from the US President yesterday assuring him that the nuclear deal the two countries signed recently was on track, is, however, believed to have indicated to his colleagues and aides that India will not reverse its stand.

The Prime Minister has defended his government’s IAEA decision as one not against Tehran’s interests. “What we have done is not against Iran,” he has stressed. “Give diplomacy time to find a via media which is mutually acceptable.”

When Advani was pressured by the Sangh to quit as BJP chief soon after his Pakistan trip, he had turned to the Gita twice: once on June 15 while releasing a book and again on July 3 at a religious function.

On the first occasion, he compared himself to Arjuna and said he drew strength from Krishna’s words to soldier ahead and “protect and adhere” to the principles he believed in.

On July 3, the BJP chief described the Gita as a “guide for everyone”.

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