Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju is not one to mince his words. He is well-known for his brutal honesty and is not afraid to call a spade a shovel.
Recently, in an article that he wrote in The Week, Justice Katu compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to former UK PM Winston Churchill for their view on Chinese expansionism.
Although PM Modi did not take China’s name, the speech he delivered was pretty self-explanatory. “Prime Minister Modi's speech condemning Chinese expansionism should open the eyes of the whole world, which should unite against Chinese imperialist expansionism. Though one may disapprove of many other things Modi has said or did, on this issue all must unite. By speaking against Chinese expansionism, Modi has spoken like Sir Winston Churchill did against Nazi expansionism,” Justice Katju wrote in his article.
On Friday, PM Modi made a dramatic visit to a forward post in Ladakh that clearly caught China off guard, apart from galvanising the nation and raising the morale of Indian forces.
The defining moment perhaps was PM Modi’s stern message that India is meeting China eyeball by eyeball and the era of expansionism is over.
With his characteristic flamboyance, the prime minister again desisted from naming China but did not mince words when he said, "The era of expansionism has come to an end. This is the era of development...History has proved that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back."
The message is sure to strike a chord with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam which are engaged in similar territorial disputes with China. According to observers, PM Modi is going by his sharp political instincts which suggest to him that this is the best time to call out China, stop the pussyfooting and turn on the diplomatic heat.
Firing on all cylinders, PM Modi, in an oblique reference to the Galwan standoff, reminded India's ‘‘enemies’’ that have seen the "fire and fury" of its armed forces. In what may be interpreted as a recalibration of New Delhi’s ties with Beijing, Modi also said bravery is a pre-requisite for peace and that the weak can never accomplish it.
He delved into mythology and asserted that restraint should not be misconstrued. He cited the instance of Lord Krishna. "We pray to Lord Krishna who plays flute. But we are also enamoured of the same Lord Krishna who carries the 'Sudarshana Chakra'.’’
He reiterated that while India wants peace, it will give a "befitting reply," if provoked. "India's integrity and sovereignty is supreme, and no one can stop us from defending it. Nobody should have any iota of doubt about this," asserted Modi.
The rhetoric came even as the situation at ground zero remained unchanged with PLA using negotiations with the Indian commanders to open new pressure points and build infrastructure. Often, as has been seen in Doklam, Chinese disengage at some point, as they will be constrained to do in Ladakh when winter sets in, but the makeshift structures erected by them remain rooted to the ground.
Then, came the much needed pep talk to the forces. ‘‘Your courage is higher than the heights where you are stationed. When the safety of the country is in your hands, then there is a reassuring belief. Not only me, but the entire nation believes in you. We all are proud of you," he said in a message that was meant as much for the men in fatigues as for the domestic constituency.