If you believe the commentary in most Indian media, both mainstream and blogs, the Left parties' opposition to the nuclear deal with US is motivated either by their traditional anti-Americanism or their love of China. It is certainly not driven by India's national interest. Assumption there is that the deal is in India's national interest, but Left parties don't care for that and hence are trying to scuttle the deal.
How valid is that assumption? Is the deal really in India's national interest? Or can one make an argument to the contrary? Let's see.
First of all, the leftists have made it clear that their opposition is not so much to the deal itself but to India's strategic partnership with US. So rather than looking at the nitty-gritties of the deal, let's see if a broad strategic relationship with US is in India's national interest.
Now, USA's relationship with China is lukewarm at best. So it is reasonable to assume that by entering into a strategic relationship with US, we reduce our chances of having a friendly relationship with China. How good will that be for India? No matter how great a relationship we have with US, fact remains that they will always be half way across the world from us whereas China will always be our neighbour. So it is more important for us to have good relations with China than with US. More so, when you consider that China is a growing economy and could well be the largest economy in the world in another 20 years. So we have to choose between China and US. If we go with China, we can be an equal partner with them and along with Russia, Brazil and Arab countries could form an alliance formidable enough to dominate the world in a couple of decades. Or we can go with US and end up having a troubled relationship with many countries in our neighbourhood (China, Iran, Russia, etc) which is going to hamper our own growth.
One could argue that let's have a relationship with US for the time being and we can always switch to China when we find that they are becoming more powerful than US. But the nature of strategic relationship is such that we won't be able to switch sides so easily. Take the 123 agreement for example. We will be expected to shape our foreign policy on the lines of US policy or we will have to not only return all the nuclear fuel supplied to us but also forgo the billions of dollars of investment that we are going to make in building reactors to make use of that fuel. That is, once we enter into a relationship, there will be cost associated with getting out of it. All that the Left parties seem to be doing is asking us to think carefully before deciding to tie the knot with US.
There is an interview with Edward De Bono in today's (9/18) Economic Times and he makes pretty much the same point I have made above:
Q: How can India become one of top three economic super powers?
De Bono: If India can partner China, they can be a real superpower in a short time. Alternately, if India and China form a coalition bringing other developing countries in their fold, it will beat all other world superpowers.