Demand public debate and parliamentary approval!
Statement of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, September 9, 2007
The UPA Government is rushing headlong into a strategic alliance with one of the most dangerous powers hated by wide sections of people in our country – US imperialism. It is refusing even to accede to the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine the proposed strategic alliance and nuclear deal with the US, let alone conduct a discussion among the masses of the people. It is refusing to allow a vote in Parliament on the subject.
The government and its apologists are declaring that whoever opposes the Indo-US deal are agents of China or Pakistan. This is the same fascist method used by the US imperialist chieftain George Bush, who declares that anyone who opposes US aggression is a supporter of terrorism. The Manmohan Singh government used similar logic to discredit those who opposed the visit of George Bush to India in 2006, by propagating the lie that only Muslims in India were opposed to US imperialism. The aim of such propaganda is to create suspicion about the motives of those opposing the Indo-US alliance, while the motives of the government in pursuing the alliance and deal are supposed to be completely patriotic and above board! The aim is also to divide the opposition. The working class and people must be vigilant against such trickery and reject it with the contempt it deserves.
The champions of the Indo-US deal are also carrying out the propaganda that those opposing the alliance and the deal are living in the past, that they do not recognize the changing realities, while those supporting the deal are allegedly in tune with the times. They imply that allying with US imperialism and its "war against terrorism" is to be in tune with the times, while anti-imperialism is allegedly outdated! The fact is that US imperialism has not changed its nature. If anything, it has become even more ferocious. There is no reason that workers and peasants, patriotic and peace-loving Indians, should change their long-held distrust and dislike of US imperialism – a sentiment born out of our country's long and painful experience with rapacious imperialist powers.
It is those who are promoting this alliance who must be made to answer to the people. The onus is on the government to demonstrate how a strategic alliance with the US will serve the interests of the Indian people. A strategic alliance with the US will necessarily be an imperialist alliance, directed against the peoples and nations of the world. It will necessarily be a war mongering alliance. It will lead to deterioration in India-Pakistan relations and endanger peace in South Asia. It will lead to the loss of many friends for India in the international arena. It will increase the danger of Indians being used as cannon fodder in imperialist wars.
The Narasimha Rao government signed the Dunkel draft in 1993 in the face of mass opposition, without caring about the opinion of Parliament or the people. Earlier, the Indira Gandhi regime signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty binding India to a strategic alliance with the Soviet Union. That India’s constitution permits the executive to enter into agreements with any foreign power without even requiring parliamentary approval shows that this Constitution is outdated and needs to be changed.
External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has declared that his government is agreeable to a discussion in Parliament. However, the rider is that Parliament will have no right to veto the alliance or treaty. The issue then arises, why would anyone want a discussion in Parliament if that discussion has already been declared worthless?
The BJP has been demanding a discussion on the 123 agreement under a rule which allows for a vote. At the same time, the BJP leadership has been at pains to say that it is not motivated by “blind anti-Americanism”. It is thus sending signals to the US that it has no problem in principle with the Indo-US strategic alliance.
The CPI(M) and other Left parties have been grandstanding on their opposition to the strategic alliance and the 123 agreement. They have even threatened to pull the government down. However, in the end, they have tamely agreed to a review committee. Pranab Mukherjee has declared that the deliberations of this committee will not be made public. He has also declared that this committee, which has nothing to do with Parliament, has been established only to hold together the coalition supporting the UPA government.
The CPI(M) has not supported the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee. Nor is it raising the need for parliamentary approval of international treaties and agreements. Why is CPI(M) not raising the demand that the Constitution be amended so that parliamentary approval is a must for all international treaties – a demand that it had voiced earlier? The leaders of CPI(M) have to provide an answer to this question.
Both the BJP and the CPM are objectively playing into the hands of the ruling Congress Party, and contributing to keeping the people and their elected representatives out of the sphere of decision-making.
There is a very wide spectrum of people who are firmly opposed to the Indo-US strategic alliance. They include members and supporters of almost all parties. This is the time to fight for public debate and a vote in Parliament on the alliance. This is the time to fight for a constitutional amendment to necessitate parliamentary approval before international treaties and agreements are ratified. It is essential that a full and informed parliamentary debate and voting does take place, so that more facts come out in the open, and the people of India get to know clearly where the different legislators stand with respect to the alliance and the nuclear deal.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India demands that all treaties and alliances with foreign powers must be subject to public debate and parliamentary ratification at the very minimum. Since this is not mandated by the Constitution as it presently stands, we demand that the constitution be amended on these lines. We call on all parties that are expressing concern about the Indo-US alliance and nuclear deal to demand an immediate discussion and vote in Parliament, followed by a constitutional amendment to make parliamentary approval for such agreements mandatory.`