Govt colluded with Italy over marines, says Opposition

Amid the Opposition’s cry of collusion with the Italian government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday assured delegations from Kerala–one led by the Congress and another by the CPM–that the government would do “whatever needs to be done.”

While the Opposition, including the Left and the BJP, attempted to corner the ruling UPA, the Congress tried to display seriousness and concern over the issue to counter the offensive.

The BJP has given notice for calling attention motion in both the houses of Parliament, which might generate heat in Parliament on Wednesday. Left MPs from Kerala met the prime minister under the leadership of CPM MP Karunakaran.
The MPs claimed that the prime minister termed the Italian decision as “unacceptable”.

Karunakaran told reporters that Singh “told us that this is not acceptable to us” and assured the delegation that the matter would be taken up “strongly” with the Italian government.

Agencies, however, quoted PMO sources as saying that Singh only told the delegations that the matter would be looked into and he will ask External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to take up the issue with Italy.
P C Chacko, who led the delegation of Congress MPs, also quoted the prime minister as saying that he would speak to Khurshid and “whatever needs to be done through diplomatic channels will be done”.

‘Explain measures’

Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury asked the prime minister to explain what “strong measures” the government would take to bring back these marines and ensure their trial under the Indian laws. “The Italian marines have insulted the judiciary. It is an issue of the law of our land and the marines would have to come back here to face trial,” he said.

“In India, the undertrials are not allowed to vote. If that is the norm for Indian undertrials under the Indian laws, why should this be different for the Italian marines,” asked Yechury.

The BJP also reacted sharply over Rome’s stand. Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar alleged an instance of “diplomatic collusion” between the UPA government and the government in Italy.

“We charge the government with diplomatic collusion on this issue. The whole incident appears to have been scripted,” Javadekar said.

The party further charged this is a case of contempt of the Supreme Court.

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