A fresh political controversy has erupted with the recent reminder in a section of the media that Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka accompanied by her husband, the controversial Robert Vadra, and children had gone to China at the invitation of the Chinese government in 2008 to be on hand at the Beijing Olympics while no special invitation was sent to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. With any Chinese connection rankling the people of India in view of the recent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in a manner that indicated Chinese perfidy, the fact that the Gandhi family sang paeans to the Chinese hosts and that Rahul Gandhi, then Vice-President of the Congress signed an MoU with the then Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping (now the all-powerful President) has caused eyebrows to rise. It is normal practice for two countries to sign MoUs but it is unusual for a party leader to sign a seemingly official agreement with a senior government functionary over the head of his country’s government. The invite to Sonia and family and the MoU signing reflected the signs of the times wherein the Gandhi family enjoyed extra-constitutional authority and the country’s prime minister was meek and weak-kneed by comparison.
In view of the strained ties between India and China as a result of the recent Galwan Valley clash, some commentators have been pointing out that the attitude of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi has been soft on the Chinese. They are quick to pounce upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government on various pretexts connected with the Galwan clash but tended to let off the Chinese without scathing comment. This attitude shows the entire Congress party in poor light. Even in the face of the Doklam standoff in Ladakh in 2017, Rahul Gandhi’s luncheon meeting with the Chinese ambassador which was kept under wraps by the Congress party until it spilled out in the media had raised eyebrows. In recent times, Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary’s tweet against China, calling it a ‘venomous snake’ and ‘yellow expansionist’ while praising the Indian army was withdrawn by the party as the leadership did not like it. There have also been allegations that the Congress party especially its leaders, have been soft towards Pakistan, too, in the recent past. All this could cost the Congress dearly in future elections unless the leaders make amends for this perception among some.