It’s been two weeks since COMCASA was signed, and the only response from Congress is no comments

New Delhi: It has been two weeks since India and the United States signed a historic defence pact — the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). But the main opposition party, the Congress, has so far has avoided making any statement on the pact, which had been opposed by the UPA government throughout its 10 years in power.

“I don’t want to comment on it,” is the standard reply given by former defence minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony.

Congress sources told ThePrint that the party will draft a detailed response presenting its point of view in the next few days.

Three-Step Process

There are three set of agreements any country needs to sign to become a strategic defence ally of the US. The first is the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which allows access to each other’s military ports and bases, and can be used for refuelling and carrying out military exercises between the two countries.

Under Narendra Modi’s NDA, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) — a modified version of the LSA — with the US in August 2016.

COMCASA is the second step, which further strengthens Indian and the US defence ties. Through this, India can get critical and advanced defence technology from the US, and also access communication networks to ensure interoperability between the Indian and US armed forces.

The third agreement is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), which India is yet to sign.

BECA is all about sharing geo-spatial intelligence information on maps and satellite imaging for defence purposes.

‘Military Autonomy In Danger’

When the Modi government signed LEMOA in August 2016, the Congress and other opposition parties opposed it vehemently.

At that time, Antony had come out strongly and said the government had put the country’s military autonomy in danger by signing the agreement.

“When UPA was in power, India had all along resisted such proposals. India had traditional relationship with the Soviet Union, now Russia, from the very beginning. Of late, we are steadily improving our relations with the US also. But we were never part of a military bloc,” he had said.

“By inking such an agreement, India will allow the US Military, mainly the Navy and Air Force, to use its facilities for their smooth operations. They can refuel their warheads, their ships and aircraft etc, and if necessary, keep their military equipment on Indian soil.”

Apart from the Congress, the Left parties and regional parties such as the JD(U) — which was not in the NDA fold at the time — had also criticised the signing of the agreement.

So, when the NDA government has moved forward and taken the second step towards becoming an ally of the US, it’s surprising that the Congress is choosing to keep quiet on the issue.