Congress opposes logistics support agreement with US

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) The Congress on Thursday voiced “strong reservations” over the government’s move to sign a military logistics support agreement with the US, saying the Narendra Modi government does not have the mandate to push India into any military alliance.

“Though America is India’s strategic partner, we have our strong reservations and concerns against this agreement,” Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma told reporters here.

“The LSA (Logistics support agreement) was earlier proposed by the US in the year 2004, and for one decade the two countries have been in talks. But India had resisted it during the 10 years of UPA’s rule. We did not agree to it because we see it as intrusive. It will show India being drawn into a military alliance,” Sharma said, insisting that such a situation will not be favourable to India.

He added that India has strategic relations with the US and also with Russia, China, Japan and Indonesia and it had maintained balance among its various strategic partners but had never been part of a power bloc.

Sharma also said the Modi government has not got the mandate to push India into any military alliance which could prove detrimental to its interest in the long term.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government do not have a national mandate to push India into a situation where it sinks in a closer, deeper military alliance and becomes part of a larger operational design and requirement of the US in Asia and Pacific and South China Sea,” Sharma said.

“It will be detrimental to India’s strategic and security interests. It will also undermine the critical geo-strategic balance and also the balance of forces in India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood in the region,” Sharma added.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at a joint press conference here had announced that the two countries have ‘in principle’ agreed to conclude a logistics support.

India and the US will ink two more agreements, apart from the LSA, including a Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for assistance in geospatial intelligence.

The Congress has described all three agreements as a grave threat to India’s strategic communication system.

“These three foundational agreements that have been kept on hold. The second one — CISMOA — would take into its embrace the communication network of Indian Armed forces, the radars and signals, including that of the air force and the Indian Navy, which can jeopardise our operational preparedness and strategies,” Sharma said.

“The government has said they want to have this LSA on a case to case basis. But for specific such cases, the arrangements already exist with Russia, US and other strategic partners. Therefore, there is no need of such an agreement,” he said.

On Wednesday, Congress leader and former defence minister A.K. Antony criticised the government’s decision to ink the logistics agreement, saying it would affect the independence of India’s foreign policy and strategic autonomy.

Antony said the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by then Congress had resisted the agreement for 10 years, and that it would be disastrous for India.

“It is a disastrous decision. The government should retract it,” he said.

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