Washington, DC. Chairman Sanjay Puri of the U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) returned today to the U.S. from a shuttle diplomacy visit of leading Indian-Americans with India's top government leaders. Puri and USINPAC traveled to India to learn first-hand the status of the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement, and in the process became a back channel of communication between Prime Minister Singh and the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While in India last week, the USINPAC delegation met with Prime Minister Singh, D. Raja the National Secretary of the Communist Party of India, Rajnath Singh President of the BJP, Arun Shourie BJP Member of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and other senior Indian government leaders. When the delegation met with Prime Minister Singh, they were asked to convey a message to the BJP leaders.
He told us that as we were meeting the BJP leaders, we should pass on a message. The Prime Minister asked us to tell them, Let's have an open debate on the subject, said Sanjay Puri.
When this message was communicated the day after the USINPAC delegation's meeting with Prime Minister Singh, BJP President Rajnath Singh responded by reiterating his party's demand for the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to study the nuclear deal. The BJP had stalled the budget session of Indian Parliament with its demand for a JPC, which the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government rejected immediately.
USINPAC believes that if the UPA government is able to see the agreement through successfully, this will only be made possible with the assistance of the BJP, which has been vocal about its support for a strong U.S.-India relationship.
We did convey a message to them (BJP) that there is an opinion among the Indian American community that the BJP is not doing the deal for political reasons, said Puri. The BJP President in turn responded by stating that the BJP is for a strong U.S.-India relationship and is for the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement if India's foreign policy sovereignty and its nuclear deterrence are in place.
Over the next several weeks, now that the USINPAC delegation has returned to the United States, Chairman Puri will share the details of what was learned in India with the Bush Administration and Members of Congress. We are taking the message back to Washington that the Prime Minister Singh is committed to the deal, but it is in a delicate situation, said Puri.
The U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) is the political voice of 2.5 million Indian-Americans. USINPAC provides bipartisan support to candidates for federal, state and local office who support the issues that are important to the Indian-American community. For more information, go to www.usinpac.com