New Delhi: Attacking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for speaking in different voices at home and abroad on key foreign policy issues, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha Monday accused the government of abandoning the G-77 developing countries by striking a questionable climate change accord at Copenhagen.
“Yesterday (Sunday), the prime minister admitted that no one was happy with the outcome of the Copenhagen conference. You can’t sing a different tune when you come back home,” Sinha, a former external affairs minister, told in an interview.
“The same thing happened at Sharm el-Sheikh. The government has completely repudiated what happened at Sharm el-Sheikh,” Sinha maintained.
He was alluding to the July 16, 2008 India-Pakistan joint statement after Manmohan Singh’s talks with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani at the Egyptian resort on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit.
The contentious statement delinked actions against terror by Pakistan from the composite dialogue process and included the first-ever reference to Balochistan in a bilateral document that sparked an uproar in parliament. The government had to subsequently soft pedal on the statement, with Manmohan Singh hardening his stand on cross-border terror.
“In all areas of foreign policy, one notices the same thing,” said Sinha, who also served as finance minister during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.
“From the nuclear deal to the WTO negotiations to climate change, we have been playing second fiddle to the US. This is clearly not in our national interest,” Sinha maintained.
“While no one is against friendship with the US, we should not play second fiddle to the US,” said Sinha, whose party took the lead in initiating a nuclear rapprochement with the US after sactions were imposed on India in the wake of the 1998 Pokhran tests.
Sinha, according to party insiders, is expected to take over as chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs. Newly-appointed Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj has resigned from the post and has forwarded Sinha’s name for the job. Sinha, however, clarified that no final decision has been taken on the issue.
Sinha didn’t mince words in attacking the government’s handling of the climate change negotiations at Copenhagen last month. “The most damaging outcome of the Copenhagen conference has been that India has broken ranks with the G-77 countries. We left them high and dry,” Sinha pointed out.
“We struck our own accord with the BASIC countries,” said Sinha, referring to the last-minute pact struck at the Dec 7-18 Copenhagen summit between the leaders of Brazil, South Africa, India and China and US President Barack Obama.
By doing so, India betrayed the interests of developing countries, Sinha maintained.
“We are an emerging economy. India has a standing in the world. No one can deny it. But that does not mean we should abandon solidarity with the developing world,” he added.
“We have abandoned the G-77. It’s a major departure from our foreign policy,” he stressed. “In effect, we have buried the Kyoto Protocol, accepted quantitative restrictions and international verification. Call them by whatever name you will,” he said.
“It’s a complete and abject surrender to the US without any commitment on funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he added.
“This government has been blundering its way through. It is committing one blunder after another,” Sinha said, adding that the BJP will try to pin the government down on these alleged foreign policy missteps in the budget session of parliament next month.