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Govt may stay or go, we want a nuke deal

Govt may stay or go, we want a nuke deal
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First Published: Tue, Jul 22 2008. 12 04 AM IST
Updated: Tue, Jul 22 2008. 12 04 AM IST
New Delhi: As the Indian government seeks a vote of confidence over its support of the Indo-US nuclear deal, they clearly seem to have the backing of the country’s companies.
Three chambers of commerce, which represent some 10,400 Indian companies, have all come out supporting the deal even if the Congress-led government falls.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), the smallest chamber, has been the most vociferous, taking out an advertisement in favour of the deal.
“In case something happens and a new government takes over, sacrificing the nuclear deal will be equivalent to sacrificing the future of the country,” said D.S. Rawat, secretary general, Assocham. “We must sign the nuclear deal and then ask the people if we were right or wrong in signing the deal.”
The other two chambers, the Confederation of Indian Industry, or CII, and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, or Ficci, while not as vocal with their backing of the United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, government, say they would still want the deal even if the government falls.
Proponents of the nuclear deal say it gives India access to quick, clean energy by allowing the country to purchase nuclear fuel such as uranium to power its nuclear plants.
They maintain the deal will enable India to buy fuel and technology for nuclear reactors even though the country hasn’t signed the multilateral non-proliferation treaty whose signatories have agreed not to conduct nuclear tests.
“Any government that comes in the future in India will have to swing towards the nuclear deal,” predicts Amit Mitra, Ficci’s director general. “The question is whether the next US government will be as aggressive as the (George) Bush administration in pushing for the nuclear deal.”
The largest chamber of commerce, CII, too says it is “200% for it (the nuclear deal),” according to its chief mentor Tarun Das.
Das said that the chamber will “absolutely” back it even if the current UPA government at New Delhi falls—something that few people are predicting hours before the vote—and the next government is hostile to the agreement.
ravi.k@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Jul 22 2008. 12 04 AM IST