New Delhi: BJP on Wednesday extended support to the civil nuclear liability bill but was critical of the "sleight of hand" of the government in drafting the law and its attempts to "hustle" it through in Parliament now now.
Initiating the debate on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, 2010 in the Lok Sabha, senior party leader Jaswant Singh also asked the government to take the larger concerns of Indians on board and not those of a "smaller" US market.
Referring to various attempts by the government to introduce contentious clauses in the Bill on which it had to backtrack, Singh said the government was indulging in a "sleight of hand" by first introducing the word 'and' and later 'intent' in the draft bill. "It is a sleight of hand and trickery. First there was and then intent. It is simpler and easier to take Parliament along," he said.
Opposition parties had contended that insertion of the word "and" between sub-clauses 'a' and 'b' of Clause 17 without the Parliamentary Standing Committee's concurrence had sought to dilute the liability of the suppliers in case of a nuclear accident. Similarly, they had also attacked the provision "intent" in the same clause with regard to suppliers or their employees role in an accident.
Referring to US President Barrack Obama's oncoming visit to India this year end, Singh sought to suggest that the government was trying to "hustle" through with the legislation before the event.
"Why are you hustling the Committee, Parliament and the issue. It is otherwise a very important issue. India is not not South Korea. We don't have to follow their example," he said.
The former External Affairs Minister said while the government signed the agreement in 2005, it was rushing to get the Bill cleared in 2010 just before the visit of the US President Barack Obama. Singh said his party would support the Bill if the government accepted its amendments. "Give us more candour," he added.
Jaswant Singh (BJP) said the genesis of the bill lies in the 2005 Indo-US nuclear agreement. "There is some hesitation to accept the parentage of the bill," he said.
He claimed that an "I owe you' was signed on September 10, 2005 by the then Foreign Secretary whereby India committed to the US to buy a certain number of nuclear power plants. "That 'hundi' has created problems now as they (US) are asking for money," he said.
He said since India is buying 40 nuclear power plants, it was "not in a weak position". Therefore, it should not allow the suppliers to dictate their terms.
The BJP leader, who as External Affairs Minister in the NDA government played a key role in furthering closer Indo-US ties, said New Delhi should further closer relations with Washington "as a resurgent and assertive India". Singh said he did not think that anybody can compensate for a real nuclear incident. Nuclear accidents do not fall in the usual compensation pattern.
Raising another question, he said that 1650 MW plants owuld be used in India for the first time. "I don't think they have been fully tried in any other country".
Singh also asked the government to consider the environmental aspects of the Act. He asked the Government for explanations on insurance and inclusion of the term "Special Drawing Rights".PTI