During a conversation with ANI on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar hit back at Rahul Gandhi who has been targeting the government over China's aggression on the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Jaishankar said that it is not the Congress leader but Prime Minister Narendra Modi who sent the Army to the Line of Actual Control as a countermeasure to troop deployment by China and the opposition party should have honesty to look at what happened in 1962.
Jaishankar further said the Modi government had increased the budget by five times to ramp up border infrastructure.
Jaishankar responds to Rahul's statement 'EAM doesn't know much about foreign matter'
The EAM also responded to the Congress leader's statement on him wherein the latter had said that the EAM doesn't know much about foreign policy matters and needs to learn more. Jaishankar said that if the Congress leader has superior knowledge and wisdom, he is always willing to listen to him.
Jaishankar clarified that RaGa made the statement in context of China in a public meeting. Stating that he has a fairly good self-opinion and understanding of what is out there, Jaishankar added that he has been the longest serving ambassador in China.
Jaishankar: Congress must have some problem understanding words beginning with 'C'
In a strong rebuttal to Congress over allegations pertaining to China, he said its leaders must have some problem understanding words beginning with 'C'.
"When did that area actually come under Chinese control? They (Congress) must have some problem understanding words beginning with 'C'. I think they are deliberately misrepresenting the situation. The Chinese first came there in 1958 and the Chinese captured it in October 1962. Now you are going to blame the Modi government in 2023 for a bridge which the Chinese captured in 1962 and you don't have the honesty to say that it is where it happened," said Dr Jaishankar.
"Rajiv Gandhi went to Beijing in 1988...signed agreements in 1993 and 1996. I do not think signing those agreements was wrong. This is not a political point I am making. I think those agreements were signed at that time because we needed to stabilise the border. And they did, stabilise the border." The External Affairs Minister stressed that when other countries' demands are not reasonable, the government will not be able to come to an agreement.
Asked about the Congress party's allegation that the Modi government is defensive and reactive on the China issue, Jaishankar dismissed the claims saying there is currently the largest peacetime deployment along the China border.
Jaishankar: Who is playing footsie with history?
"If I would have to sum up this China thing, please do not buy this narrative that somewhere the government is on the defensive...somewhere we are being accommodative. I ask people if we were being accommodative who sent the Indian Army to the LAC (Line of Actual Control). Rahul Gandhi did not send them. Narendra Modi sent them. We have today the largest peacetime deployment in our history on the China border. We are keeping troops there at a huge cost with great effort. We have increased our infrastructure spending on the border five times in this government. Now tell me who is the defensive and accommodative person? Who is actually telling the truth? Who is depicting things accurately? Who is playing footsie with history?"," added Jaishankar in an interview to ANI.
Referring to Congress criticism concerning border villages coming up on the Chinese side of LAC, he said the opposition party should remember what happened in 1962.
"What happens you do this smoke and mirror, oh there is something happening here it is almost like 1962 never happened," he said.
"We should be building border infrastructure. Why did you (Congress-led governments) not build up infrastructure? Look at the border infrastructure budget during the Modi period, the budget has gone up five times. Till 2014, it was roughly Rs 3000-4000 crore, today it is Rs 14,000 crore. If you look at the roads that are built, the bridges, they have doubled or tripled, look at the tunnels this government is serious about border infrastructure...where as we know the underlining thinking earlier was let us leave it like that till the Chinese cannot come inside which meant you have no intention of contesting them when they came in," he said.
He said it was important to call out Congress blunders as it was targeting the government.
"Personally, I can get into a blame game what happened in 1962, it happened, but now if you whitewash all that everything happened only in 2023... I have to call you (Congress) out," Jaishankar said. He added that steps to improve border infrastructure should have been taken at least over two decades back.
Standoff at the LAC in Ladakh & counter measure by India
No first of all I am not using the word we are fortifying it I think we are legitimately building our border infrastructure because they have built a robust border infrastructure. In my view, we should have done it 25 years ago.
He said China was a bigger economy and India was responding to the situation that China has created along the LAC in Ladakh by violating border agreements.
"They are the bigger economy what I am going to do? I am a smaller economy. Am I going to sort of pick up a fight with a bigger economy? It is not a question of reacting. It is a question of common sense. We had in agreement that we are not supposed to bring to the borders in large numbers...because it is in our interest to stabilize our borders or a situation it is not out of love affection or sentiment. It is a core calculation," he said.
Jaishankar said border agreements had helped stabilise the situation till these were violated by China.
There had been a standoff at the LAC in Ladakh following the aggressive actions of the Chinese Army. The two countries held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks for disengagement from some friction points. The high level of troop deployment by China continues for which India has taken counter steps.
(with ANI inputs)
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