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BJP roots for nuke rethink

New Delhi, Nov. 7: The BJP today said the Indo-US nuclear deal needs to be renegotiated, overturning the impression that the party was softening its stand.

?The BJP strongly recommends that this deal must be renegotiated and not hustled through as the UPA government is attempting to,? a statement issued after the party?s core committee meeting said, echoing the stand the BJP had taken at the outset.

The statement was signed jointly by L.K. Advani, the party?s leader in the Lok Sabha, his Rajya Sabha counterpart Jaswant Singh and party president Rajnath Singh, leaving no room for doubt that the party was united on the deal.

?The BJP has been and continues to be of the view that the UPA government has made a significant strategic blunder by turning this deal into a kind of an icon of India?s relations with the US,? it said.

The statement clarified that the BJP has ?consistently? been in favour of ?close Indo-US cooperation?, but only between ?two equal sovereigns?.

The party, it added, was ?opposed to the deal because in our view, it compromises long-term strategic programmes of India, vital for the country?s security. Neither will it help meet our energy needs of the future?.

The statement pointed out that this was the stand taken by the party in meetings with American envoy David Mulford and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, and also with India?s national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and atomic energy commission chairman Anil Kakodkar.

There was speculation in political circles after these meetings that the BJP was under pressure to review its stand and the party?s core committee would signal a shift. But the party has been rubbishing such suggestions, with Advani yesterday categorically ruling out any such move.

The speculation about a rethink gained ground recently when Brajesh Mishra ? the national security adviser during the NDA regime ? said in an interview that the BJP could support the deal if the government gave some assurances.

But the party has now gone back to its initial stand. At a news conference to present the BJP?s first official view on the agreement, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie had said the deal should be renegotiated.

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