Cong questions PM 'silence'

The Congress today asked the Centre to specify how it would tackle the Chinese "aggression", with some leaders raising questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's strategic vision and foreign policy.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 8.07.17
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New Delhi, July 7: The Congress today asked the Centre to specify how it would tackle the Chinese "aggression", with some leaders raising questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's strategic vision and foreign policy.

Two days after describing Modi as "weak PM", Rahul Gandhi today tweeted: "Why is our Prime Minister silent on China?" The Congress asked the government to explain how the border stand-off in the Sikkim sector spiralled out of control and said the Prime Minister's silence was baffling in the face of aggressive posturing by the Chinese side.

The Congress's communications chief, Randeep Surjewala, said: "China and the Chinese ambassador are using provocative and aggressive language vis-à-vis the China stand-off. Will the Prime Minister say what's our response? Will the Prime Minister tell the nation what's the way forward to solve the stalemate, or if heaping praise is the only way forward?"

Surjewala was referring to reports from the G20 summit in Germany that Modi had met Chinese President Xi Jinping and both heaped praises on each other. "India's solemn duty is to protect its and Bhutan's borders and territory. What is the government and Prime Minister doing to address these strategic concerns?" Surjewala asked.

Writing in an article, former minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor said "the provocative and offensive language" used by the official Chinese media showed the "gloves are coming off" and asked the Modi government how it had allowed "things to get this bad".

Tharoor, a Congress MP, wrote: "Whatever the proximate cause, we have now reached a point where not only are our soldiers tensely facing each other over disputed territory, but China has become decidedly belligerent, cancelling permission for Indian pilgrims to travel to Mansarovar via the recently-opened Nathu La route, and saying there would be no talks with New Delhi until the Indian Army withdrew. Since that prejudges the outcome of any talks, it is a significant escalation, and puts the onus on India to blink first - which no self-respecting government in Delhi will do."

Tharoor lamented that the Chinese government-controlled official media had gone ballistic with statements recalling 1962 and the "lesson" India had been previously taught, saying Beijing would rethink its position on Sikkim's accession to India as well as Bhutan's dependence on India.

Wondering about the reasons for the hostility, Tharoor asked: "Could we have engaged better with Beijing by welcoming the intent of Obor (One Belt One Road Initiative), by suggesting a road that ran through Indian territory to ports in Gujarat, just to show we were not obstructing their grand vision?"

He added: "No one knows, but that's also because no one seems to be thinking along creative new lines in the Modi government. The China standoff points to an alarming lack of coherent strategic thought in Delhi. The Prime Minister's incessant globe-trotting has undoubtedly marked his personal presence on the world stage after years of exclusion. Pakistan is the worst example of inconsistent policy making without a clear strategy; China has now joined it in that category."