‘Politics by other means’: Jaishankar criticises detractors and the Opposition

Foreign affairs minister S Jaishankar dismissed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the government’s handling of the border dispute with China on Tuesday in New Delhi. He also accused foreign media of engaging in “politics by other means” by portraying a “extreme image” of India.

In a wide-ranging interview with ANI, Jaishankar characterised the government’s foreign policy as “extremely strong” and stated that India’s global status is “obviously lot higher” under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As an implementer of foreign policy, he stated, “Now, our own strategic thinking and activities are much clearer.”

In response to Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the government’s handling of the stalemate with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Jaishankar stated that it was Modi, not Gandhi, who dispatched the army as a countermeasure to Chinese troop deployments in the region. He noted that the government increased expenditure on border infrastructure by a factor of five.

Responding to criticism from Congress and other opposition parties regarding the Chinese construction of a bridge on the shores of Pangong Lake last year, he stated that China had illegally occupied the region since the 1962 war.

“When did China genuinely assume control of the region? They (Congress) must have difficulty comprehending words beginning with the letter C. I believe that they are intentionally distorting the situation. The Chinese arrived there for the first time in 1958, and they seized it in October 1962. Now you are going to blame the Modi administration in 2023 for a bridge in a region that was taken by the Chinese in 1962, but you lack the integrity to admit that it occurred there,” Jaishankar said.

Referring to the border control pacts made with China in 1993 and 1996, he stated that he did not believe they were improper. “I believe these agreements were reached at that time because the border needed to be stabilised. They also stabilised the boundary “he stated.

In response to a question regarding the contention of the Congress that the government is defensive and reactive towards China, Jaishankar stated that the greatest peacetime deployment is currently along the LAC. Please do not accept the premise that somewhere the government is on the defensive and somewhere we are accommodating. Who dispatched the Indian Army to the LAC, if we were being accommodating? It was not sent by Rahul Gandhi. He answered, “Narendra Modi dispatched them.”

With reference to a recent BBC documentary on the sectarian violence in Gujarat in 2002 and critical coverage on the Indian government, Jaishankar criticised international media of purportedly engaging in local politics. “Sometimes, India’s politics don’t even originate within its borders; they emanate from elsewhere,” he remarked.

“We are not arguing merely a documentary, a speech given in a European city, or an editorial in a newspaper…we are debating politics, which is handled purportedly as media…

This is politics in disguise. “I mean you…want to conduct a hatchet job and say that this is simply another quest for truth that we decided to release 20 years later,” he remarked.

“You believe the timing is coincidental?” Let me tell you one thing: I do not know if the election season has begun in Delhi, but it certainly has in London and New York,” he continued.

The international media, he argued, is portraying India, its administration, the BJP, and the prime minister in a “very radical” light. “Why are there suddenly so many reports…were some of these events not occurring previously? Why don’t we watch a documentary on the events that transpired in Delhi in 1984?” Jaishankar stated.

He continued, “I am aware that there are certain individuals who believe their opinion supersedes elections. Evidently, I like you, you won an election, and your democracy is fantastic. I dislike you, and yet you win the election. What kind of electoral dictatorship are you?”

Jaishankar stated that India’s relations with all major powers, with the exception of China, are excellent, and added that in the context of the Ukraine situation, both Russia and Ukraine are aware that “if we can be of assistance, we will be willing” According to him, the opinion expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russian President Vladimir Putin last September — “this is not a time of war” — is generally held. He stated that Modi wants to generate momentum for peace and has spoken with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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