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Leading Hindu Politicians Demand Revision in Indian Government’s Foreign Policy

Smarting from the rebuff India suffered when it tried to participate in the Islamic summit conference in Rabat, Morocco a week ago, leading Hindu politicians are demanding a drastic change of Indian foreign policy that will take it out of the pro-Arab camp. One critic, A.P. Vajpayee, president of the Hindu Janasang Party, declared in Bombay that India’s answer to the Rabat “insult” should be to extend full diplomatic recognition to Israel. Mr. Vajpayee argued that if Moslem countries like Turkey and Iran maintained diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, nothing prevented India from following a similar course.

The Rabat conference, called to consider the aftermath of the Al Aksa mosque fire in Jerusalem, was converted into a general anti-Israel forum by the Arab participants who overruled the more moderate non-Arab Moslem delegates. India, which has a large Moslem minority, sent a delegation to Rabat. But it was refused admission to the conference on the insistence of India’s old rival, Pakistan.

The head of the Indian delegation, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed, a Moslem, said at a press conference here that it was time for a reassessment of India’s foreign policy, taking into consideration Rabat events. Former Foreign Minister M.C. Chagla issued a long statement critical of the Government’s policy, and six members of the ruling Congress Party have demanded the ouster of Foreign Minister Dinesh Singh. They held Mr. Singh responsible for the “Rabat fiasco” and declared that “if the support our Government has always given had failed to convince the Arabs, nothing that we do now can carry conviction.”

Mr. Singh’s removal from the Cabinet was demanded by the Parliamentary Party Secretary C. Desai in a letter to Premier Indira Gandhi. He also asked her to fire top Foreign Ministry officials who had advised the Government to participate in the Islamic summit.

Hindu sensibilities have been aroused by the warm welcome accorded by Mr. Singh and others to an El Fatah delegation on a fund-raising and propaganda tour of India. Observers say that after the Rabat affair, India is likely to refuse to attend the Asian foreign ministers conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, next March and will review its future ties with such countries as Morocco, Iran and Jordan which opposed India at Rabat.

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