So now we do not even need a President of a country to tell us what to do. We can take instructions as happily from a junior official, be it Burns or Boucher, as they come here cracking the whip and we to the last man in the government stand happily in line, hands raised in servile salute as we shout in orchestrated chorus, “we want the nuclear deal, yes we want the nuclear deal.” We plug our ears, and continue the chant that we hope will take us to fame, individually if not collectively, even as Parliament shouts at the top of its voice that the nuclear deal is against the interests of the country, and the nation is against it.
Now the ministry of external affairs does not announce the travel schedule of its minister Pranab Mukherjee. The announcement first comes from Washington, in this case Burns, who lets us know that our minister will be visiting the US soon. Congress spokespersons give briefings insisting they want the nuclear deal, the AICC is buzzing with talk of a mid term poll and the nuclear deal. The Prime Ministers Office is back in business with its one point agenda —everything else is incidental—for the nuclear deal. So that leads us again to the two questions: why does Prime Minister Manmohan Singh so desperate for the nuclear deal, we know why Bush wants it, but why does he? And two, has the nation now ceased to matter that its voice reflected through Parliament over and over again is not being heard by the government that prefers to become non accountable on an issue of immense strategic import?
The Prime Minister wants the deal for three basic reasons. One, after a life spent in pleasing political masters, first as a bureaucrat, then as a minister, he has finally come into his own. Yes, of course Congress president Sonia Gandhi is the woman behind the throne, but then he is the recognized head of government and that is an opportunity he knows he will not get again. Not even if the Congress returns to power, as there are too many claimants including of course the dynastic heir. He thus, wants to go down in history (even if its US history) as the man who did something big: converted India irreversibly into a strategic ally of the US and changed her course from non alignment to total and complete alignment with the one nation of his unipolar world. Two, his basic constituency of the middle class and the corporates wants the nuclear deal not because it knows what that is, but because it will open new business with the US and that is something the mall-shoppers of India’s consumer society are keen to strengthen. A