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Rahul Gandhi to Centre on India-China border issue: Do not hide

When the national-level leadership doesn’t act strategically, the response comes in international relations and geopolitics, says Congress MP
Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Saturday.
Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Saturday.
PTI picture

Sanjay K. Jha   |   New Delhi   |   Published 01.01.23, 03:43 AM

Rahul Gandhi on Saturday asked the Narendra Modi government to deal with border issues and the military with greater sincerity and honesty, and own up to mistakes instead of hiding behind the armed forces. Rahul used the opportunity to address a BJP charge that he was picking on the army.

“When I talk of the government, they say I am attacking the army. I don’t. The government has committed mistakes and it should not hide behind the armed forces. This is cowardice,” he said.


Addressing a media conference in Delhi as part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul said: “When the national-level leadership doesn’t act strategically, the response comes in international relations and geopolitics. On the issue of China, our government has completely mishandled it. Now we have to stop making political use of the armed forces and listen to the army, the navy and the air force. We have to respect their views.”

The Congress leader added: “We have to take precautions -– both military and non-military. And whatever is happening on the border, don’t try to hide it. China has taken away 2,000sqkm but the Prime Minister said nobody has intruded. What’s the message that went to China? We have to clearly say you have come inside our territory and you have to get out.”

Contending that the Narendra Modi government had failed to grasp the broad framework of foreign policy, the MP said: “The Congress never allowed China and Pakistan to come together against India. Now they have come together. This is a serious development. This is dangerous. Somewhere they will do something. The question is not if but when. They took the first step in Doklam and the second step in Ladakh. To me, it appears preparation. If not, very good.”

Insisting on clarity and making it clear he was not attacking the armed forces, Rahul said: “This government is in confusion.... The government should own up the mistakes. They should say ‘this mistake happened and we are rectifying it’. The entire Opposition will support you.”

The last time when Rahul referred to the Chinese intrusion and the government’s refusal to discuss it, the BJP had highlighted one expression — that Indian soldiers were “beaten up” — to target him instead of discussing the real problem with China.

Rahul appeared to be explaining the charge of insulting the soldiers by saying on Saturday: “I come from a martyr’s family. I understand the feelings of the family when a soldier is martyred. Nobody in the top BJP leadership understands this. This is a reality. Nobody sacrificed their lives from their families. I don’t want any soldier to die. I love soldiers. You can’t take this issue casually. Soldiers’ sacrifice is being used for political gains while the family suffers.”

Asked about the CRPF charge that he broke security protocol numerous times, Rahul said: “They ask me to travel in a bullet-proof vehicle. Now, the Bharat Jodo yatra cannot be done sitting in a bullet-proof vehicle. The BJP leaders come out of their bullet-proof cars; they also hold roadshows but no such letters of violation of security protocol are written to them. Is the protocol different for me?”

The Congress has responded to the letter written by Aneesh Sirohi, DIG CRPF, on December 28 regarding the breach of security, through a letter addressed to home minister Amit Shah by the general secretary in charge of organisation, K.C. Venugopal.

Venugopal said: “We had written about a specific incident in Sohna, Haryana, where the Yatra’s containers were intruded by intelligence unit personnel of Haryana police. No action has been taken in that case....

“As far as the Delhi leg of the yatra is concerned, there were two significant issues — both related to the utter lack of collaboration between the police and the CRPF. There were two stage events in Delhi — one in Badarpur and the other at Red Fort. At both venues, Rahul Gandhi was directed away from the entry passage towards the crowds. This exposed him to an extremely unprotected area and it caused a lot of confusion and commotion. There are multiple instances where unidentified people got very close to Rahul Gandhi; the videos and photographic proof of the same can be shared.”

The letter complained of the Delhi police’s failure to maintain rope encirclement. Venugopal said the police in neighbouring states had held consultations on security details but the Delhi police refused to attend a similar meeting in Haryana.

He said the Congress had written to the home minister but the response came from the CRPF, against which the party had raised objections. He hoped the mistakes witnessed in Delhi would not be repeated in other states.

The Yatra resumes on January 3.

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