Earlier today, Congress prince Rahul Gandhi had released his much-publicised video. As expected he went on a rant, indirectly blaming India in an apparent litany of complaints against the current government’s foreign policies.
The three-minute video clip showed Rahul Gandhi bringing up the Ladakh standoff issue and lay the blame squarely on India’s soldiers. Gandhi almost seemed to be arguing that for China’s expansionist, dominant policies, that is generating protests globally, India is to be blamed. Gandhi effectively stated that the reason for China’s aggression is India’s ‘current’ foreign policies.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar has replied to Rahul Gandhi’s video. In a series of tweets, Jaishankar dismissed Rahul Gandhi’s insinuations and lies. Explaining why and how Gandhi scion’s assertions are wrong, the former diplomat stated, “Our major partnerships are stronger and international standing is higher. Witness the regular summits and informal meetings with the US, Russia, Europe, and Japan.”
The Union Minister also stated that now, India engages China on more equal terms politically.
.@RahulGandhi hs questions on Foreign Policy. Here are some answers:— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) July 17, 2020
•Our major partn’ships are strongr & internat’l standng higher.Witness regular summits&informal meetngs wth #US #Russia #Europe & #Japan.India engages #China on more equal terms politically.
Ask the analysts. https://t.co/GPf17JWSac
Jaishankar further stated, “We speak our mind more openly now. On CPEC, on BRI, on South China Sea, on UN-sanctioned terrorists, etc.”
The foreign minister also highlighted the border infrastructure imbalance that the nation has been burdened with during all these years of Congress rule. He stated that Rahul Gandhi should compare the government’s expenses on border infra in the 2008-14 period to the 2014-20 period. He stated that the border infra budget has been increased by 280%, road construction works by 32%, bridges by 99% and 6 times the number of tunnels have been added.
Ties with neighbours
The minister also slammed Rahul Gandhi’s comments about the relationships with neighbours that the Gandhi scion had insinuated to have deteriorated during the current government’s rule.
Giving the example of Sri Lanka, Jaishankar said, the Hambantota port agreement between China and Sri Lanka was concluded in 2008, while the UPA government did nothing about it. He further added that India has managed to transform relationships with the Maldives in recent years, after watching president Nasheed’s government being toppled in 2012. Relationship with the Maldives has been revived, he stated.
Regarding Bangladesh, Jaishankar stated that a boundary dispute with the country was settled in 2015, furthering improved ties and opening paths to more development and transit. “And terrorists no longer find safe haven there”, he added.
Regarding Nepal, Jaishankar stated that PM Modi became the first Indian Prime Minster to visit there after 17 years. He added that Nepalin citizens will assert how India has contributed to the development of power, fuel, housing, hospital, roads projects in the country.
He further added that Bhutan has found a stronger security and development partner in India. And unlike 2013, they do not worry about cooking gas anymore, said Jaishankar, hinting about the time when the UPA government had soured relationships with Bhutan by cutting kerosene and LPG subsidies.
He furthered that under the current Indian regime, Afghanistan has seen the completion of major projects like the Salma Dam and Parliament.
Pakistan and the difference between UPA and NDA
Rahul had skipped discussing India’s ties with Pakistan. However, Jaishankar reminded him that Pakistan has definitely noticed the difference between India’s response during the UPA era and the NDA era. Mentioning the surgical strike post-Uri attacks and Balakot airstrikes that had delivered major shocks to Pakistan, Jaishankar asked Rahul Gandhi to compare the response with the UPA-era response to 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Sharm-al Sheikh and Havana incidents.
Manmohan Singh’s blunders
It is notable here that in Sharm-al Sheikh, Egypt, during a summit of the NAM in 2009, a foolhardy joint statement by Manmohan Singh with the Pakistani PM had effectively legitimised Pakistan’s allegations that India has been interfering in Balochistan.
In Havana, Cuba, in 2006, another major blunder by Manmohan Singh had resulted in India acknowledging Pakistan as a “victim of terrorism”. It was widely criticised as the ‘Havana handshake’ by Indian media and policy watchers.