Whoever wins, India won’t lose

FP

A young Indian diplomat will stay awake through Tuesday night in Delhi to track election trends in the US for South Block. But the eagerness behind the vigil notwithstanding, New Delhi is confident that there will be no change in Washington's policy towards India, irrespective of who occupies the White House for the next four years.

At least one key interlocutor each on behalf of President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney have conveyed this to the Indian government in recent weeks.

While US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the Obama administration's commitment to strengthen the relationship to new external affairs minister Salman Khurshid during a phone call on Saturday, former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill — one of the key interlocutors from Romney's camp — conveyed the Republican candidate's support for US-India relations during his recent India trip, The Indian Express has learnt.

"I have met both Obama and Romney, and having met both, I can say that India is one issue where there is no major divergence between the incumbent and the challenger," said Ronen Sen, who as India's ambassador in Washington was witness to this bipartisan support.

"That job was achieved during the nuclear deal. The enabling legislation to the nuclear deal was passed by a Republican-controlled U S Congress, and the actual nuclear deal was passed in a Democrat-controlled Congress. And it was demonstrated by a majority support, almost 80 per cent supported the deal," Sen said. "So, we are not indifferent to the outcome, but we will not see any change in the direction or the importance attached to India-US relations."

Lalit Man Singh, who was India's envoy to the US from 2001 to 2004, echoed those sentiments. "There is going to be a continuity in the relationship, and it doesn't matter who wins the presidency. There is just a small measure of difference - on how long it takes the new president to settle down," Singh said. Until 2000, relations between the two countries depended on the personality of the president, but that changed for the better after Bill Clinton's March 2000 visit to India, he added.

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