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‘Ask analysts’: Foreign minister Jaishankar ‘schools’ Rahul Gandhi on India’s foreign policy

Jaishankar’s no-holds-barred attack on Gandhi came after the former Congress chief, in a video message posted on Twitter on Friday, once again slammed the Narendra Modi government over the face-off with China in Ladakh.

SNS | New Delhi |

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday hit back at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of the government’s foreign policy, saying that under the Modi dispensation India’s major partnerships are stronger, international standing higher and it engages China on more equal terms politically.

“Pakistan (that you skipped) surely notes the difference between Balakot and Uri on the one hand, and Sharm-el-Sheikh, Havana and 26/11 on the other. Ask yourself,” Jaishankar said, attacking Gandhi over his comments.

Jaishankar’s no-holds-barred attack on Gandhi came after the former Congress chief, in a video message posted on Twitter on Friday, once again slammed the Narendra Modi government over the face-off with China in Ladakh. He said China chose this time to intrude in our land as India’s foreign policy, economy and relationship with neighbouring countries are disrupted.

In the first video of his series, Rahul Gandhi explained the reasons of China ‘selecting this time to intrude in our land’.

He has been critical of the government over the handling of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) situation with the China after the killing of 20 Indian soldiers, including an officer on June 15 in Ladakh’s Galwan area by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He has questioned the government over its claim that China did not occupy or intrude into India.

Firing salvos at the government over China’s intrusion in India, Rahul Gandhi said, “The question is why the Chinese choose this particular time to move. What is it about the India’s situation that has made China act in such an aggressive way. What is about this moment of time to have the confidence that they can move against country like India?”

The Congress MP from Kerala’s Wayanad said that to understand this, one has to go to multiple spaces. He said that the countries are protected not by a particular way, but by a confluence of systems of foreign relationships, neighbourhood, economy and the feeling and vision people have.

“And what has happened over the last six years that all those areas that India has been disturbed and disrupted,” he said, adding, “And I will cover all those.”

Talking about India’s foreign policy, the Congress leader said, “Our relationship with outside world used to be with multiple countries. We had a relationship with the US, strategic partnership with the US, I will say and that is very important. We had relationship with Russia and Europe and these countries used to manoeuvre in the world.

“Today our relationship has become a transactional. We have transactional relationship with the US, we have disturbed relation with the Russians. We have a transactional relationship with Europe,” he said.

Gandhi also alleged that today Nepalese are angry, Sri Lankans have given a port to the Chinese, Maldives is disturbed and so is Bhutan.

“Our neighbourhood other than Pakistan was working with India and saw itself as being partnered with India. Today Nepal is angry with India, go to Nepal and speak to the Nepalese people they are furious with what has happened. He said that Sri Lanka has given its port to China, Maldives is disturbed, Bhutan is disturbed. “We have disrupted our foreign partners and neighbourhood,” he said.

He further spoke on the “crumbling” Indian economy.

Reacting to his tweets on India’s bilateral relations, Jaishankar, making a point-by-point rebuttal said, “Rahul Gandhi has questions on Foreign Policy. Here are some answers: Our major partnerships are stronger and international standing higher. Witness regular summits and informal meetings with US, Russia, Europe and Japan. India engages China on more equal terms politically. Ask the analysts”.

India speaks its mind more openly now on issues such as China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China’s Belt and Road initiative, South China Sea and UN-sanctioned terrorists, he said, adding, “ask the media”.

“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 Maldives, after India watched President Nasheed being toppled in 2012, now stand transformed. Ask our business,” he said.

On Bangladesh, Jaishankar said a settled land boundary in 2015 which opens path to more development and transit.

“Terrorists no longer find safe haven there. Ask our security,” he said.

“Nepal after 17 years is getting Prime Ministerial visits. And a swathe of developmental projects: power, fuel, housing, hospital, roads, etc. Ask their citizens,” Jaishankar said, highlighting strengthening of India’s ties with neighbours.

Bhutan finds a stronger security and development partner and unlike in 2013, they don’t worry about their cooking gas, he asserted, referring to the row over cooking gas with that country under the UPA rule.

Ask the households in Bhutan, he added.

Afghanistan sees completed projects — Salma Dam and Parliament, expanded training and serious connectivity, Jaishankar said, adding that ask the Afghan street.

(With agency inputs)