Dr S Jaishankar's 10-point answer to Rahul Gandhi's questions on foreign policy
Dr S Jaishankar's 10-point answer to Rahul Gandhi's questions on foreign policy

Stepping up his attack on the government over the LAC standoff, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday issued a video message sharing his thoughts on why did China choose to be aggressive now and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "indiscretions" have weakened the country and left it vulnerable.

The criticism of the Indian foreign policy by Rahul Gandhi in the video did not go well with the External Affairs Minister of India Dr S. Jaishankar. The minister, thus, came up with a 10-point answer to the criticism by the Congress leader.

S. Jaishankar came up with answers on India's relations with the neighbouring countries and the status of India at the International level. He pointed out several issues and indirectly said that the Indian foreign policy has now 'improved'.

He also narrated how India is helping neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan.

The minister took to Twitter and wrote, "Rahul Gandhi has questions on Foreign Policy. Here are some answers:"

Here are the 10 points stated by External Affairs Minister of India Dr S. Jaishankar:

  • Our major partnerships are stronger & international standing higher. We witness regular summits and informal meetings with the USA, Russia, Europe and Japan. India engages with China on more equal terms politically - Ask the analysts.

  • We speak our mind more openly now. On China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), on The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), on the South China Sea, on UN-sanctioned terrorists - Ask the media.

  • We address the border infrastructure imbalance legacy. Compare 2014-20 with 2008-14. Our budget up by 280%, road building by 32%, bridges by 99% and tunnels by 6 times - Ask our Jawans.

  • And some facts on our neighbourhood: The Hambantota Port agreement between Sri Lanka and China was concluded in 2008 - Ask those who dealt with it.

  • Difficult ties with the Maldives, after India watched President Nasheed being toppled in 2012, now stand transformed - Ask our businesses.

  • A settled land boundary (2015) with Bangladesh; opens a path to more development and transit. And terrorists no longer find safe haven there - Ask our security.

  • Nepal, after 17 years is getting Prime Ministerial visits. And a swathe of developmental projects: power, fuel, housing, hospital, roads - Ask their citizens.

  • Bhutan finds a stronger security and development partner. And unlike 2013, they don’t worry about their cooking gas - Ask their households.

  • Afghanistan sees completed projects (Salma Dam, Parliament), expanded training and serious connectivity - Ask the Afghan street.

  • And Pakistan (that you skipped) surely notes the difference between Balakot & Uri on the one hand and Sharm-el-Sheikh, Havana & 26/11 on the other - Ask yourself.

In the video message posted on Twitter, Gandhi hit out at the Modi government saying that over the last six years, India has been "disturbed and disrupted" with regard to its foreign policy and economy.

The 3.38-minute video message is the first of a series initiated by Gandhi to share his thoughts with people on various issues faced by the country.

"Since 2014, the PM's constant blunders and indiscretions have fundamentally weakened India and left us vulnerable. Empty words don't suffice in the world of geopolitics," he alleged in a tweet along with the video message.

Gandhi said one has to go into multiple spaces, including India's economy and ties with neighbours and other countries, to understand why did the Chinese choose this particular time to move against India and violate the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and what gave them the confidence to turn so aggressive.

"Today, you have a country which is economically in trouble; in trouble as far as foreign policy is concerned; in trouble with its neighbours; and that's why the Chinese have decided that this is possibly the best time to act and that is why they have acted," he alleged.

Noting that countries are protected by a "confluence of forces and systems", he said, "a country is protected by its foreign relationships, it is protected by its neighbourhood, by its economy, by the feeling that its people have and the vision that its people have." Gandhi has attacked the PM and the government over the India-China border conflict in Ladakh in the past as well and alleged their "failure" in handling the issue.

Hitting back at Gandhi, the BJP said he was trying to "divide the nation" and "demoralise" the country's armed forces by questioning the handling of the border situation.

On India's foreign policy, Gandhi said the country had relationships with multiple countries and it used to share a strategic partnership with the US.

India also had a relationship with Russia and Europe and they used to help it manoeuvre in the world, he said.

"Today...we have a transactional relationship with the United States. We have disturbed our relationship with the Russians. We have a transactional relationship with Europe," he alleged.

He claimed that in the neighbourhood all countries, other than Pakistan, had been working with India and partnered with it in the past.

Gandhi alleged that today Nepalese are angry, Sri Lankans have given a port to the Chinese, the Maldives is disturbed and so is Bhutan. "So we have disrupted our foreign partners, we've disrupted our neighbourhood," he alleged.

On the economic front, he said, the economy was India's pride and it used to go to the rest of the world and boast about it. "But, India has seen the worst economic growth in 50 years and there is no end in sight," he said.

Alleging that unemployment rate was the highest in 40-50 years, he said, "Our strengths have suddenly become our weaknesses." "We told the government that look, please realise that we are becoming vulnerable. All these things are connected, they're not separate," he said.

Congress wanted money to be injected into the economy and protection for small and medium businesses, "but, they (government) refused to do it," he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal