By: Pramod Thomas
THE UK has called off a high-powered delegation to India over the latter’s stand on Ukraine invasion, the BBC reported.
The cross-party UK delegation to India led by the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, and his deputy was cancelled at the last minute, the report added.
It is largely viewed as a sign of a growing rift over India’s refusal to distance itself from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to the report, the 10-strong delegation has been in discussion with India since January and was planning to visit Delhi and Rajasthan. However, the Indian high commission raised objections at the last minute.
This week, prime minister Boris Johnson urged India’s Narendra Modi to take a more robust position over the Russian invasion.
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India has not imposed sanctions or even condemned Russia, its biggest supplier of military hardware.
The BBC reported that the planned visit was the Speaker’s first of its kind to India. It was part of Sir Lindsay’s effort to act as a diplomat between parliaments.
The delegation was due to go ahead during the Easter parliamentary recess, it is learnt.
Envisaged as an effort to encourage progress on a UK-India free trade deal, the context of the delegation’s visit changed after the invasion of Ukraine in February. Also, Britain is supporting the armed resistance of the Ukrainians.
The BBC report said that it was unclear if India’s issues were with individual members of the chosen delegation or related to a wider concern about British MPs being given a platform in India to urge Modi to take a more robust position.
There were reports that India’s central bank is in initial consultations on a rupee-rouble trade arrangement with Moscow. It would enable exports to Russia to continue after western sanctions restricted international payment mechanisms. Britain has already expressed concern over this.
Reports said that talks would allow India to continue to buy Russian energy exports and other goods. India cannot afford to alienate Russia, its main arms supplier, as it is locked in a land border dispute with China.