The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh trashes troops request

New Delhi, July 7: The Vajpayee government is yet to take a stand on sending troops to Iraq, but the RSS — which virtually scuttled the Ayodhya reconciliation effort — has put its foot down, asking why Indian soldiers should be despatched to clean the “garbage” left behind by the US.

A hard-hitting editorial in the latest issue of the RSS’ Hindi mouthpiece, Panchajanya, pointed out that US forces were disliked in Iraq and had failed to improve the law and order situation there.

“Compared to them, Indian forces are known the world over for their bravery, social commitment and fair dealings with civilians. But the question arises, why should they be sent to clean up the garbage left behind by US forces'” the editorial asked.

Taking a potshot at the Prime Minister and his advisers, the RSS said those holding “Alladin’s lamp” in the South Block imagined that an invitation to send troops to Iraq amounted to “recognition of India’s growing role in world affairs”.

It went on to say: “But who would believe it' Is our growing role proved only by handling the local civilians in Iraq after what the US did'”

The Panchajanya editorial said India should recall its historical ties with Iraq and that “Iraqi people had a feeling of natural respect and affection for Indians”.

“That being the case, will the Iraqis accept with love the Indian troops' Will they not regard it as a manifestation of double standards by India, which has openly opposed US invasion in Iraq'” it asked.

The editorial also ruled out chances of a political consensus on the issue. Earlier, the RSS had opposed the US invasion of Iraq and demanded an immediate evacuation of its troops and takeover by forces under the UN jurisdiction.

While the RSS was quick off the mark, the BJP — caught between accepting the government’s compulsions and its political instincts — took its time to formulate a response, which it eventually did after the Opposition attacked the US.

BJP sources said it would be difficult for the government to ignore the views of the RSS.

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