Trump's library claim: Congress response shows that diplomacy should be immune to political rivarly

What is unexpected is the BJP’s muted response to the US president's barbs at the prime minister

  • Published 7.01.19, 8:32 AM
  • Updated 7.01.19, 8:32 AM
  • 2 mins read
Facts, evidently, are not Mr Trump’s forte. Ironically, this is a trait that he shares with Mr Modi, the man he needled recently (AP)

Instances of statesmanship are rare in New India. Is that why it is the Congress, warming the Opposition bench in Delhi, that has risen to the occasion by defending the prime minister of India from the uncharitable remarks of the president of the United States of America? At a news conference, Donald Trump had noted sardonically that Narendra Modi has not done enough in Afghanistan. New Delhi’s only contribution to this restive region, Mr Trump added, has been a library. Facts, evidently, are not Mr Trump’s forte. Ironically, this is a trait that he shares with Mr Modi, the man he needled on this occasion. India is one of the largest donors to Afghanistan. New Delhi has been instrumental in facilitating a series of welfare initiatives in such diverse areas as health, education, agriculture, irrigation and so on. India’s centrality in the Afghan imbroglio has also forced Mr Trump’s administration to issue a sanction waiver to the Chabahar project in Iran so that Kabul can gain access to sea routes. Of course, Mr Trump cannot be expected to remember such trivialities. His belittlement, while unfortunate, is not unexpected. What is unexpected is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s muted response to Mr Trump’s barbs at the prime minister. Is not the BJP the muscular defender of India’s pride and dignity? As a party with a monopoly on patriotism, should it not have objected strongly to Mr Trump’s statement that was derogatory to the prime minister of the country? Perhaps the BJP chooses the subjects of its vitriol with care. Mocking the US president is not as easy as ridiculing India’s minorities, secular citizens or, some would even add, the votaries of constitutionalism.

Save for a general secretary, India’s ruling party may have kept mum, but not so India’s principal Opposition party. In its spirited defence of Mr Modi, the Congress has taught the BJP a thing or two about statesmanship and integrity. The Congress has shown that diplomacy and strategic policy should be immune to political rivalry. The Congress has not allowed its pronounced political and ideological differences with Mr Modi and his party to come in the way of its repudiation of Mr Trump’s opinion. This may appear to be an instance of magnanimity; Mr Modi is in the habit of belittling the Congress and some of its leaders in India and abroad. But this is more than a charitable act. The Congress’s intervention is an example of true patriotism. Upholding the dignity of a democratically elected prime minister is akin to honouring the nation.

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