The resignation of Timothy Roemer, the US ambassador to India, hard on the heels of the ejection of US contenders Lockheed Martin and Boeing from the Indian Air Force's medium range, multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender, has raised a few eyebrows, primarily on account of its timing. While the media was labouring to disconnect the resignation from the MMRCA outcome early on in the evening yesterday, there is an obvious change in perception by the time the morning papers were put to bed late last night.
The observations of the diplomatic editors of two respected national dailies do present an intriguing picture of what may have actually transpired behind the scenes, and also where the much hyped Indo-US strategic engagement may be positioned today.
We start with a summary of KP Nayar's assessment, which he makes for the Kolkata-based The Telegraph, as its diplomatic editor and correspondent for the Americas.
In his piece on the matter, ''US jumbo jet bids crash, envoy ejects'', Nayar contends that far from the resignation not having anything to do with the MMRCA bid, ambassador Roemer actually made his continuation in that position ''…untenable by publicly pitching so hard for the Indian order for the biggest military aviation deal in history that he became identified with the success or otherwise of the American bids.''
In a naughty reference to a bygone era, Nayar says, ''It is the standard practice in the US for those in public life to use family as an excuse when they resign for other reasons just as Soviet leaders cited health reasons for ''resigning'' whenever they were pushed out for other faults such as failure of agriculture or ideological deviations.''
Nayar says ''…the absence of three follow-up actions indicates that his resignation has not been in the making and was the result of the failure of his all-out bid for the contract.''