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CPI(M) objects to AJT deal

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 20. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today objected to the Vajpayee Government signing the Rs. 6,600-crore "Hawk" Advanced Jet Trainer agreement stating that a caretaker government should not enter into a defence deal involving financial commitment.

"We are not going into the merit of the decision to acquire the aircraft, it may be the best but we are questioning the timing of signing the agreement after the elections were announced,'' the CPI(M) politburo member, Prakash Karat, said. The decision, he said, should have been left to the new government.

Asked whether the party would complain to the Election Commission, Mr. Karat said that it was being considered. A defence agreement just as the country was going to vote a new government could raise a controversy given the history of defence deals in which allegations of commissions had surfaced.

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