With the Left criticizing India's vote on the UN resolution on Syria, the government has clarified that it was opposed to any regime change in principle and has always advocated the resolution of the crisis through dialogue and inclusive political reconciliation.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Monday condemned the government's stand on voting for the Arab League-backed UN resolution on Syria.
"CPI-M demands that the Indian government declare that it is against all efforts to destabilize the situation in Syria and that diplomatic efforts be pursued for a solution," the party politburo said in a statement.
The party slammed any intervention on the ground of protecting democratic rights and liberties in Syria as "hypocritical" and pointed to the record of many of the member states of the Arab League, like Saudi Arabia, which it stressed have the "full backing of the West for their despotic regimes."
The party pointed out that a similar resolution adopted by the Security Council had paved the way for the US and the NATO to launch a military attack and to effect a regime change in Libya.
The current resolution on Syria sponsored by the League of Arab States, with the backing of Western powers, would have led to a similar situation for external intervention, it said.
Against the backdrop of this criticism, government sources Monday asserted that India never supported any regime change. "Regime change is not part of India's foreign policy," a senior official said.
India is also understood to have lobbied to drop a contentious clause seeking "automatic measures" by the international community in case of non-compliance. India also ensured that "explicit reference" to stepping down of President Bashar al-Assad was dropped from the resolution.
Pointing to India's explanation of the vote put forward by New Delhi's Permanent Representative to UN, the official said India favoured resolution of the crisis through talks between all parties and backed a Syrian-led democratic transition.
India and 12 other members of the Security Council, including the US, Britain and Pakistan, voted in favour of the resolution condemning Syria's suppression of dragging protests against the Bashar Assad regime. Russia and China vetoed it, saying it amounted to advocating a regime change.
The resolution calls for a "transition to a democratic, plural political system", withdrawal of Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and release of those "detained arbitrarily".
"Our support for the resolution is in accordance with our support for the efforts by the Arab League for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through a Syrian-led inclusive political process," Puri told the Council in New York on Saturday.
India, Puri added, felt that the right of the Syrian people to peacefully protest should be respected.