NEW DELHI: Several opposition leaders criticised the government on Saturday after India abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution on the Russian attack on Ukraine, saying it needed to stand up against the wrong and not stand aside.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said "there comes a time when nations need to stand up and not stand aside".
"I sincerely wish India had voted in solidarity with the people of Ukraine at UNSC who are facing an unprecedented and unjustified aggression. 'Friends' need to be told when they are wrong," he said.
Echoing his view, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said in an article: "Invasion is Invasion; we should tell our friend Russia." "If 'friends' can't speak honestly to each other, what is the friendship worth," Tharoor asked.
"India's decision to abstain in the United Nations Security Council vote on Friday night, on a resolution that would have deplored Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, did not really come as a surprise," the former Minister of State for External Affairs said.
Tharoor also said, "After our abstention, many regretted that India had placed itself on the 'wrong side of history'."
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi accused the government of hypocrisy and said, "Interestingly those who can't stop abusing and criticising India's first PM, Nehru, are using the non-alignment policy to justify their position in the UN."
"Abstain from voting against a war doesn't make your relationship better but makes your principles weaker against violence and human rights violations," the Rajya Sabha member said.
"Tomorrow it could be us not getting support against China. Today we stood on the same side as China, that speaks loads about our foreign policy."
"Having said that, besides a resolution condemning Russia's action, what is the UN's role going to be to help Ukraine on ground? Ally countries are expressing words of support but have left Ukraine alone to defend and fight for itself. The UN will need to relook at its relevance in the New World Order," Chaturvedi said.
Russia used its veto power to block the US-sponsored resolution that sought to deplore in the "strongest terms" Russia's "aggression" against Ukraine.
In the 15-member UN Security Council, the resolution received 11 votes in favour of it, Russia opposed it and India, China and the United Arab Emirates abstained from the voting.
By abstaining from voting on the resolution, India retained the option of reaching out to all relevant parties to find a middle ground and foster dialogue and diplomacy to defuse the crisis, official sources said on Saturday.
Though India abstained from voting on the resolution, it called for respecting "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of States and sought immediate cessation of "violence and hostilities", in comments that the sources said reflected a "sharper tone" and criticism of the Russian offensive.