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WikiLeaks row: Oppn corners govt

The Opposition on Tuesday slammed the government in Parliament after a series of secret US diplomatic cables leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks suggested a US tilt in the cabinet reshuffle of 2006 when the “contentious and outspoken Iran pipeline advocate” Mani Shankar Aiyar was removed and “pro-US” Murli Deora was appointed as Petroleum Minister.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
March 16, 2011 2:01:24 am

The Opposition on Tuesday slammed the government in Parliament after a series of secret US diplomatic cables leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks suggested a US tilt in the cabinet reshuffle of 2006 when the “contentious and outspoken Iran pipeline advocate” Mani Shankar Aiyar was removed and “pro-US” Murli Deora was appointed as Petroleum Minister.

The Opposition,led by the CPM raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha and said there was a pro-American tilt in the reshuffle,quoting the US cables in which then Ambassador David Mulford has talked about the reshuffle that is “likely to be excellent for US goals in India (and Iran)”.

“Removing contentious and outspoken Iran pipeline advocate Mani Shankar Aiyar from the Petroleum portfolio,the UPA replaced him with the pro-US Murli Deora,who was one of several figures inducted with long-standing ties to the Indo-US Parliamentary Forum (IUPF) and the Embassy,” the leaked cable,as reported by The Hindu,reads.

The CPM lapped up the cables and demanded a statement from the government.

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In Rajya Sabha,CPM member P Rajeeve raised the issue,arguing that the secret cables “reveals the pressure by the US on India and the pro-US positions of our government on several issues”.

He said it was “very shameful” that New Delhi agreed to share information about investigation into the 26/11 terror attacks under pressure from the US. He mentioned about the cables regarding cabinet formation.

“WikiLeaks has talked about the ‘Kerala mafia’. This is the way your strategic partner refers to the senior bureaucrats in India. This is very shameful. We want a response,” Rajeeve said.

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After raising the issue during Zero Hour,Rajeeve along with his Left colleagues disrupted the House proceedings briefly demanding a statement from the government. Deputy Chairman K Rehman Khan,however,did not concede leading to a heated exchange between the Chair and the members.

BJP members did not join the Left MPs in the House,but outside Parliament senior party leader Venkaiah Naidu echoed the demand. He said the government should give a statement as it was a “very serious” matter. Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the Manmohan Singh government has been acting in the interests of the US in the country,in the region and globally.


CABLES: OTHER REVELATIONS

Cables suggest that two weeks before India cast its vote against Iran at the IAEA in 2005,senior officials argued against a change in the nation’s stance,saying that a UNSC referral could lead to confrontation. This led the US to believe that India was “largely” ignoring the “looming crisis” and was trying to “advance its interests” with Iran and at the same time appeasing the west.

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The cables also say that the US believes that India’s policy on Iran is driven by the desire to please the domestic Muslim and non-aligned movement audience.

A cable also reveals that the US thought in August 2009 that PM Manmohan Singh was getting isolated within his government on talks with Pakistan. The conclusion was made after US Ambassador Timothy Roemer met the then NSA M K Narayanan.

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First published on: 16-03-2011 at 02:01:24 am

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