The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nuclear deal historic: Sonia

New Delhi, Sept. 1: Unapologetic in her defence of the nuclear deal as “historic”, Sonia Gandhi appeared to be preparing Congress workers for elections when she asked them to spread the word that “no other government in recent years has increased social sector spending like the UPA”.

“We have negotiated with America keeping our national interests in the forefront and India’s defence programme has in no way been undermined,” she wrote in the August issue of Congress Sandesh.

Playing the “nationalism” card against the Left’s “anti-imperialism” line, she added that the deal would lift the “decades-old embargo against nuclear trade with India”.

“This agreement is a recognition of the achievements of India’s scientists who have worked diligently to keep our indigenous programme alive.”

Sonia also said the Left had been kept in the loop at every stage, dismissing its charge that the government has not made a full disclosure of the agreement.

“Throughout the negotiations with the USA, Parliament, our UPA allies, the Left parties and the Opposition parties have been kept informed,” she said in the party magazine.

The letter appeared to outline the Congress’s political strategy: it would chart an independent course on the deal and highlight the UPA’s policy initiatives in the social sector.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, Bharat Nirman and the proposed rehabilitation package for land-losers found special mention.

For the second time in a month, Sonia congratulated “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his team of able negotiators” for bringing home “an agreement that is in the long-term interests of India”.

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