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Government gives go ahead for India-US joint air exercises
November 04, 2005 13:46 IST
Government has decided to go ahead with joint exercises planned between the Air Forces of India and United States in West Bengal from November 7 despite opposition from Left parties.
The decision comes after a late night meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security followed by a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday morning and consultations held with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and central leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Delhi.
Announcing the decision to go ahead with the exercises planned in Kalaikunda Air Base near Kolkata, Mukherjee told reporters on Friday, "Everything has been sorted out." Some senior ministers were also present at the meeting Friday morning which discussed the situation arising out of the planned protests of Left parties against the India-US exercises.
Mukherjee said Thursday evening there were discussions with West Bengal chief minister and central leaders of the CPI (M) when a request was made to the state government to make necessary security arrangements so that the exercises could take place.
He said they were routine exercises which were being held for the last four-five years and were nothing new.
The defence minister also said that peaceful demonstration was the right of a political party and they can hold demonstrations but it should be peaceful.
The CPI (M), which heads the ruling left front in West Bengal, had earlier announced that nearly 30 lakh left front activists would demonstrate statewide on November 7.
The Left parties, including the CPI (M), CPI, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Forward Bloc issued a joint statement Thursday opposing the air exercise.
"The deepening military collaboration (between India and US) does not augur well for India's strategic interests and independent foreign policy," the statement said.