New Delhi: In a startling revelation, senior BJP leader L K Advani on Sunday revealed that former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao had faced opposition from his Congress colleagues on establishing diplomatic relations with Israel as they feared this would affect their minority vote-bank.
  
In his latest blog posting, Advani praised Rao for establishing relations with Israel which was fortified immensely during the six years of Vajpayee’s NDA regime.

Advani recalled his visit to the US in 1992 when the Jews there asked him why India had not yet established full diplomatic relations with Israel.

“My party is fully in favor of full normalization of relations with Israel. But we are not in power. The Congress party, which has been in power for the longest period since Independence, is opposed to it, and so are the Communist parties,” Advani had then told the Jewish group.

Upon his return to India, Advani met Prime Minister Rao and discussed this issue. He asked why India was not establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel.

“I am all for it, but my party is not ready,” Advani quoted Rao as saying.

Advani said he tried convincing Rao, saying India’s policy towards Israel should not be “trapped in this imaginary apprehension over the reaction of some Muslims in India.”

“After all several Muslim countries are planning to open diplomatic relations with Israel. Egypt and Turkey have already done so. Even Palestinians want to co-exist with Israel.

“Therefore, if something is in our national interest, we should explain it to people who may be opposed to it,” Advani told Rao.

Former Deputy Prime Minister  said he suggested that the country’s foreign policy should be “immune to such false considerations of domestic pressure.”

He claimed that Rao agreed with him and formed a Group of Ministers to look into the matter and for evolving a “wider ownership” of such a decision.

The senior BJP leader praised Rao for keeping his word.

“The GOM made a positive recommendation. Today India has normal relations with Israel, fortified immensely during the six years of Vajpayee's NDA regime,” BJP leader said.

The former Deputy Prime Minister recently played host to a group of 61 Americans, including Jews, who were visiting India to meet the Dalai Lama.

“They spent over an hour at our residence, learning how the BJP had contributed towards making India develop normal diplomatic relations with Israel,” Advani said.

(Agencies)