Shivpal breaks SP ‘code’ to visit Israel, UP plans project tie-ups

FP

Defying the unwritten political convention of parties wearing their "secular" credentials on their sleeves particularly on the matter of Israel, senior Samajwadi Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Minister Shivpal Yadav recently made a three-day visit to the country.

Next on the cards are two centres of excellence for fruits and vegetables in Uttar Pradesh under an Indo-Israeli project being administered by the Centre. One of these will come up at Kannauj, the Lok Sabha constituency of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav.

The SP has never shied away from voicing its sentiments in support of the Palestinian cause. In 2006, the party had even demanded that the Israeli embassy in New Delhi be shut down in the wake of Tel Aviv's airstrikes against Palestine and Lebanon.

SP general secretary Mohan Singh said on Monday that Shivpal Yadav's Israel visit was only to scout for the best irrigation technologies for the state, and was linked to his portfolio. The party, Singh said, would always support the Palestinian cause.

"Several times our party has passed resolutions in support (of Palestine). We continue to maintain our support," Singh said.

Confirming that talks were on with Israel for the centres coming up in Uttar Pradesh, O N Singh, mission director of the state horticulture mission, told The Indian Express: "We have already had a first round of discussions with representatives from Israel regarding these centres under the Indo-Israeli cooperation programme. While land is already available for another centre proposed at Basti, we need to acquire six hectares in Kannauj as we have only about four hectares available with us so far."

The SP's move is a change to say the least from the usual tendency of political parties to raise the Israel bogey to underline their "secular credentials". Even Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had succumbed to the temptation, ridiculing the poll promise by some BJP leaders to bring drip irrigation technology from Israel to water-scarce Bundelkhand.

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