India’s engagement with China on NSG will continue: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday asserted that India’s inability at Seoul to get membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was not a “failure” and that the country is continuing to engage with China to enlist its support for the same.

“China did create procedural hurdles. I am stating this again. They said NSG membership could not be given to non-Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) countries. But our engagement with China is continuing,” Swaraj informed the Lok Sabha during question hour.

Answering supplementaries, including from Trinamool Congress member Sugata Bose, the minister said: “Just because China has said no once, we cannot leave it at that. In this parliament also, Congress is opposing Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill which all other parties have agreed. We will continue to try to persuade them. Similarly, we will try with China also.”

The minister denied that the government had created a “hype” over India’s attempts for NSG membership this year.

“It was a low-key affair when we applied for the NSG membership in May. It was only in later stage that we made all sincere attempts. These attempts should not be called a hype,” she said answering to Sugata Bose’s contention that the government had created a “hype” over the NSG membership.

Jadavpur MP Bose maintained “while there is no shame to aim achieving something high,” he had reservations over the manner in which the government pursued its attempts.

He particularly expressed concern on the “strains” in relations between India and China.

To another question, Swaraj said India will “never” sign the NPT but would respect the mandate. “Some credit for this should go to the previous government (UPA) also,” she said.

To a supplementary from Nationalist Congress Party member Supriya Sule, the External Affairs Minister said: “One principal difference between the waiver India got in 2008 and NSG membership now is like sitting at a verandah of a building and walking inside a room”.

Amid thumping of desks by BJP members, Swaraj said: “One major benefit of NSG membership will be India’s ability to participate in decision making for the NSG.”

While Swaraj was making the statement, Congress members rushed to the well and raised slogans demanding answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the violence against Dalits at Una in Gujarat.