New Delhi: Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the border standoff in eastern Ladakh, saying that the Chinese were targeting the PM’s image as a strong leader, and that he feared that Modi was succumbing to it.
“They (Chinese) understand that in order for Narendra Modi to be an effective politician, in order for him to survive as a politician, he has to protect the idea of ‘Chhappan (56) inch’, and this is the real idea the Chinese are attacking,” Gandhi said in the second part of a series of short videos on the India-China border face-off he released on Monday.
His reference is to a comment made by Modi in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, where he referred to his 56-inch chest — to reiterate his strongman image.
That “strongman image” is Inia’s “biggest weakness” now, Gandhi tweeted in a message accompanying the video.
His comments drew a swift riposte from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda, who said that the Congress leader preferred to believe the Chinese army over India’s own government, and described him as “weak on facts and strong on mud-slinging”.
In his first video released on Friday, Gandhi claimed that a “troubled economy, foreign policy and neighbourhood” had prompted China to adopt an aggressive posture against India.
Titled China’s Strategic Game Plan, the second video, which is two-and-a-half minutes long, is Gandhi’s take on how the Chinese have triggered the border issue to put pressure on Prime Minister Modi.
“It is simply not a border issue. The worry I have is that Chinese are sitting in our territory today. Chinese don’t do anything without thinking about it strategically. In their mind they have mapped out the world and they are trying to shape the world. That’s the scale of what they are doing,” he said.
“And they (Chinese) are thinking of putting pressure in a very particular way. And what they are doing is that they are attacking his (Modi’s) image… They are basically telling Mr Narendra Modi that if you do not do what we say, we will destroy the idea of Mr Narendra Modi as a strong leader,” Gandhi claimed.
He then went on to ask how Modi will react to the situation.
“Will he take them on? Will he take on the challenge and say absolutely not, I’m the Prime Minister of India. I do not care about my image, I’m going to take you on. Or will he succumb to them?” asked the former Congress chief. “The worry I have so far is that the Prime Minister has succumbed.”
The BJP’s Nadda, in a series of tweets, said the video showed Gandhi wanted a weak India and a strong China.
“We saw yet another (failed) edition of ‘Project RG Relaunch’ today. @RahulGandhi Ji was, as usual, weak on facts and strong on mud-slinging,” Nadda tweeted.
“Why does one dynasty want a weak India and a strong China? Many leaders in Congress also disapprove of one dynasty’s shenanigans!” he added, in a reference to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
“For years, one dynasty has been trying to destroy PM @narendramodi. Sadly for them, PM Modi’s connect with 130 crore Indians is deep-rooted. He lives and works for them,” Nadda wrote. “Those who want to destroy him will end up only further destroying their own party,” he said in a fourth tweet.