India Uncut

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The problems of coalition government

KP Nayar writes in the Telegraph:
Just imagine what would have happened if Manmohan Singh was the head of a UPA government on May 11, 1998, the day India proclaimed that it was a nuclear weapons state. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to test a nuclear weapon that day, only a handful of people at the heart of policy-making in New Delhi knew about his decision. Had Singh been prime minister instead, the way things are now in the UPA, all hell would have broken loose.

K. Chandrasekhar Rao, president of the Telengana Rashtra Samiti and Union minister for labour and employment, would have, in all probability, made his party’s support for the nuclear tests conditional on the creation of a separate Telengana state. The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam would have insisted that New Delhi recognize the Tamil Eelam as a separate state and set up an embassy in Jaffna before its representatives in the Union cabinet voted for any measure that would be a logical follow-up to the nuclear tests. The CPI(M), on the other hand, would have demanded the immediate resignation of Manmohan Singh and a prime ministerial replacement who would unequivocally declare, before he is sworn in, that the Pokhran tests posed no threat of any kind, now or in the future, to China.
Regardless of the merits of becoming a nuclear power, Nayar's point is an important one: the kind of leeway the Congress has given to its alliance partners militates against good governance and effective foreign policy. I doubt, though, that Manmohan can do much about it. It's all in Soniaji's hands.
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