Israeli missile deal major poll issue: CPI-M

April 15th, 2009 - 12:04 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, April 14 (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Tuesday said a $1.4 billion missile deal India has signed with Israel would be a major issue during the Lok Sabha polls, the first phase of which commences Thursday.
“It is already a major issue in Kerala. In West Bengal also, this issue will come up as part of a larger question as to how the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has dealt with alleged cases of corruption,” CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here.

“This Rs.10,000-crore deal was signed only two days before the elections were announced. We have been writing to the prime minister for the last one year not to sign the deal,” Karat said.

The CPI-M leader said: “The same government had filed an FIR against a former defence minister for alleged irregularity in a defence deal involving the same company. So we will make this a major issue.”

The deal, for the supply by Israel Aerospace Industries of an anti-missile air defence system, was signed in February but made public only in March. It is the biggest defence deal between the two countries.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony has defended the deal, saying it was “clean” and contains a clause providing for its cancellation if it is proved kickbacks were involved.

Karat also referred to the alleged scam related to 2G spectrum allocation by the telecom ministry.

“The licenses given were undervalued. These companies are selling them at five or six times the amount. The total loss to the exchequer is lakh crore,” he said.

Karat said his party had asked for a probe, but the government had refused this.

Asked about his party’s alliance with Abdul Nasser Madani’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kerala, Karat said the PDP had supported the Congress in 2001 on the condition that the party secure Madani’s release from jail in connection with the Coimbatore blasts.

In 2006, Madani accused the Congress of betrayal and supported the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

“Madani has been acquitted in the blast case. We have not entered into an alliance with him. If they support us, why should we reject their support?” he asked.

Karat, on the contrary, accused the Congress of trying up with an “extremist organisation” in Kerala, the National Development Front.

“It’s name may sound very innocuous. But intelligence reports say that it is extremist and violence prone. Such organisations should not be encouraged,” Karat maintained.

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