Kochi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Centre's 'Operation Ganga', initiated to help evacuate Indian students from Ukraine, saying that it is just a "big photo op".

Speaking at the inaugural session of the CPI(M) Kerala State Conference, Yechury said, "Our people stranded there... a big photo-op session is going on for the last three days. Yesterday was the Prime Minister's own photo op."

"India had evacuated more than a lakh people during the Gulf War, over a lakh during the Libyan crisis... but there were no photographs of people coming back with Indian flags and 'thank you Modi' postcards those days," he added.

Slamming the Centre for selling Air India, Yechury claimed that the government does not have (air) planes to bring back people.

"You have the right to command aircraft from any airline in a state of national emergency. The lives of Indians there, particularly our students, will have to be saved. The Central government must pay the required attention and actually get their act together," he said.

Yechury lambasted the Centre and said that under the BJP government, India's international position has further been dented as a junior subordinate partner of US imperialism.

"During these four years, these strategic and military tie-ups and agreements between US imperialism in India have not only deepened but widened. India joining this imperialist sponsored groupings, and therefore, taking a partisan position, is actually undermining India's independent foreign policy and standing in the world," the CPI(M) leader alleged while referring to NATO.

After Russia's forces launched military operations in Ukraine on February 24, the Government of India has launched "Operation Ganga" to bring back stranded students and Indian citizens from the conflict-torn Ukraine.