Left parties object to logistics exchange agreement with US

Left parties object to logistics exchange agreement with USNEW DELHI: Left parties today raised strong objections to the government’s “in principle” nod to a logistics exchange agreement with the US, terming it as a “dangerous and anti-national” move and demanding that the government “immediately retract” from inking the pact.

The parties charged the Narendra Modi government with converting India into a “full-fledged” military ally of Washington and “compromising” the country’s strategic autonomy by deciding to go ahead with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) which will enable both militaries to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

They also claimed that there is “no transparency” in what the Centre does with regard to “such critical policy matters” as Parliament is not taken into confidence and sought to know why the Modi dispensation is “desperate” to “please” the US by taking the step “voluntarily”.

“The Modi government has taken the dangerous step… In doing so, the BJP government has crossed a line which no other government has done since independence – converting India into a full-fledged military ally of the United States,” the CPI (M) said in a statement.

It accused the government of “compromising” national sovereignty and strategic autonomy of the country with the move and urged all political parties and “patriotic” citizens to oppose the Centre’s “surrender” to the US.

“The government must be told that these anti-national steps do not have the support of the people. It should immediately retract from signing the Logistics Agreement,” it said.

It described LEMOA as “just another name” for the Logistic Support Agreement (LSA) that US has entered into with military allies like Philippines, South Korea and Japan.

The party expressed apprehension that “unlike what Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar says, refueling, maintenance and repair facilities for American ships and airplanes will require stationing of US armed forces personnel on Indian soil on a regular basis”.

“Along with this agreement, the Defense Minister has indicated that two other agreements are on the anvil, Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

These will make Indian armed forces’ command and control structure integrated with the US armed forces,” it said.

CPI national secretary D Raja observed that there is “no transparency” in what the Union Government does on “critical” policy matters and demanded the Centre explain why it is “desperate” to please Washington. Raja also alleged that the government was not taking Parliament and people into confidence on such issues.

“Earlier, there used to be tremendous pressure on India from the US to have access to our ports for refueling and such things. Now India is voluntarily offering all help to the US. Why India is so desperate to please US? This Modi government will have to explain,” the Rajya Sabha member said.

Raja also rued that the Nuclear Security Summit, held in Washington on March 31 and April 1, failed to address the “crucial” issue of “disarmament and nuclear weapon-free world”.

India and the US had yesterday agreed “in principle” to the logistics exchange agreement. Parrikar and visiting US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made it clear that the agreement, which will be signed in “weeks” or “coming months”, does not entail deployment of American troops on Indian soil. –PTI