US-India nuclear deal
After months of tiresome bickering over the pact between the Congress-led coalition government and its Communist parliamentary allies, this was a coup for Mr Singh. He is believed to view the deal with America, struck three years ago but recently seeming dead, as his government’s finest achievement. It would enable nuclear-armed India to import nuclear fuel and technology for civilian uses—despite its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This, its supporters and critics agree, would be hugely significant, making India an exception to the global counter-proliferation regime.
But the deal is not done yet. Besides the IAEA, India has to convince the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to rewrite its rules and then America’s Congress votes on the whole package. The NSG’s sign-off might be especially elusive. Several European countries have concerns about the deal, and China may stealthily wish to spoil its populous rival’s party. In India itself, opposition to the deal could yet topple the government, though this seems less likely by the day. Still, some observers found it apt that, as Mr Singh issued his historic promise, his head was in the clouds.
On July 9th, in response to Mr Singh’s announcement, the Communists withdrew support from the government, depriving it of a parliamentary majority. They promise to move a no-confidence vote soon after Parliament next meets on August 11th. But Mr Singh seems happy to fight—hence his in-flight announcement. This is because, in deft and shady negotiations, his government has won new support, from the Samajwadi Party (SP).
An outfit of low-caste Hindus, backed by many Muslims and led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP is based in India’s vast northern state of Uttar Pradesh (UP).Mr. Yadav, anti-American, now seems to think the deal crucial to India.