Yechury slams government’s foreign policy

New Delhi: CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday criticised the Centre’s foreign policy in the neighbourhood region and appealed to the government not to “cement” any India-US-Israel axis as it was “not in the country’s interests”.

“Good neighbourly relations should be the backdrop of our foreign policy… and for heaven’s sake please don’t cement any US-Israel-India axis as it’s not in the country’s interests,” said the Member of Parliament during a debate on foreign policy in Rajya Sabha.

He disapproved of India’s signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and called it a “worrisome” document.

“We know nothing of it (the content). This has not been placed before the Indian Parliament,” he said.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader cited a few clauses from the document in order to show supremacy of US interests over India, and wondered whether there was a “greater surrender of sovereignty” than this.

“We are now the junior ally (of US) and a subordinate partner in our own neighbourhood,” he said.

“This is the last nail in the coffin of our independent foreign policy,” he added.

One of the four ‘foundational agreements’ that the US enters into with its defence partners, the LEMOA provides for cashless refuelling, replenishment and related services to the militaries of the two countries.

Continuing, Yechury warned the government of the perils of conducting join naval military exercise in the Bay of Bengal with the US and Japan, saying it carried “the danger of sending the wrong message” to countries in the region.

“I agree 100 per cent with the government on its stand to resolve the crisis with China through talks… But what is the meaning of conducting ‘Malabar exercises’ in the Bay of Bengal?” he said.

Joint military exercises are done when two countries perceive a common enemy, and who is that common enemy is known to them (the regional nations), said the CPI-M leader.

He slammed the government on its stand on Israel and the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not visiting Palestine during his latest visit.

“Our solidarity with the Palestinians goes before our independence … Today you have virtually given up on the entire approach of India’s standing in world affairs,” he said.

Criticising the government on its handling of Pakistan, he mentioned that “the incidences of soldiers dying” have also doubled since the cross-border ‘surgical strikes’ of last September.