Opposition slams Parrikar’s ‘irresponsible’ comments on ‘No First Use’

New Delhi, Nov 11 (IANS) Opposition parties on Friday slammed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for his “irresponsible” statement on India’s No First Use of nuclear weapons policy, after the minister suggested that India should not bind itself to the doctrine.

While the minister, and the Defence Ministry clarified it was his personal view, the opposition questioned if Parrikar was entitled to have a personal view while holding the key portfolio.

“You have a motormouth Defence Minister, who is irresponsible in every manner,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

Party leader Manish Tewari added: “Is Defence Minister of India entitled to a personal opinion on No first use of Nuclear weapons? If he is then why does MOD (Defence Ministry) issue clarifications?”

“When Defence Minister of a de-facto NWS (nuclear weapon state) talks of Nukes in such a cavalier manner the world will think has India turned into a banana republic? (sic)” Tewari said in a tweet.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also denounced the statement, and said it will have serious implications both for India’s security concerns and for India’s standing in international relations.

“This statement represents a complete reversal of the long standing position of India as a country that champions a nuclear weapon free world and consistently stood by its commitment for peaceful use of nuclear energy,” the CPI-M said in a statement.

“The Defence Minister’s contention that these are his personal opinions is completely untenable. As a member of the cabinet collective in a parliamentary democratic system, under oath to the Indian Constitution, such opinions that are contrary to India’s long established policy direction is a reflection of the complete lack of ‘governance’ of this government,” the CPI-M said.

“If the Defence Minister wishes to air his personal opinions then he may do so after resigning from the Cabinet,” it added.

The CPI-M also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should issue a clarification.

Parrikar, at a book release function on Thursday, said India should say it will use its nuclear powers “responsibly” instead of stressing on “no first use”, but stressed that this was his personal view.

Talking about India’s nuclear doctrine, Parrikar questioned why it is said that India is for no first use, saying: “Why lot of people say that India is for ‘not first use;… Why should I bind myself. I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly,” he said.