New Delhi: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi stepped up his attack on the government over Chinese transgressions in Ladakh, claiming that “troubled economy, foreign policy and neighbourhood” prompted Beijing to take an aggressive stand against India.
On Friday, Gandhi released a video on the India-China border stand-off in Ladakh as part of his move to share his thoughts on national issues through a series of short and incisive videos.
“The question is why have Chinese chosen this particular time to move? Why have Chinese chosen to violate the LAC (Line of Actual Control) with India at this point in time? What is it about India situation that has led China to act in such an aggressive way? What is it about this moment in time that has allowed the Chinese to have the confidence they can move against a country like India?” he asked a flurry of questions to the Narendra Modi-led Central government.
“To understand that you have to go into multiple spaces. Countries are protected not by one particular thing but by a confluence of forces, by a confluence of systems. A country is protected by its foreign relationships, it is protected by its neighbourhood, it is protected by its economy, it is protected by the feeling that its people have, the vision that its people have,” he added.
Gandhi has been critical of the government on its handling of the border stand-off with China and has repeatedly asked it to come clean on the alleged intrusion by Chinese forces in Ladakh and also on the disengagement process.
“And what has happened over the last six years is that in all those areas India has been disturbed and disrupted. And I’ll cover each one of them,” he said.
Gandhi attacked the government over its foreign policy and the “soured” relationship with neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, claiming the ties have become transactional.
“Let’s start with foreign policy. Our relationship with the outside world used to be with multiple countries. We had a relationship with America, strategic partnership with America I would say. That is very important. We had a relationship with Russia. We had a relationship with Europe. And these countries used to help us manoeuvre in the world,” he said.
“Today, our relationship has become transactional. We have a transactional relationship with the United States. We have disturbed our relationship with the Russians. We have a transactional relationship with Europe,” added Gandhi.
Talking about the neighbourhood, he said earlier Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka were India’s friends and except Pakistan, the entire neighbourhood was working and partnered with New Delhi.
“Today, Nepal is angry with us. If you go to Nepal and you speak to the Nepalese people they are furious with what has happened. Sri Lankans have given a port to the Chinese. The Maldives is disturbed. Bhutan is disturbed. So, we have disrupted our foreign partners, we’ve disrupted our neighbourhood,” the Congress leader claimed.
He also took on the government over economy and unemployment amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Now let’s come to the economy. Our pride, something that India used to go to the rest of the world and talk about and boast about. We have the worst economic growth in 50 years no end in sight, absolute disaster. Unemployment is the highest in 40-50 years. So, our strengths have suddenly become our weaknesses,” he said.
Gandhi said his party had repeatedly urged the government to inject money into the economy and announce a financial package for the small and medium businesses, but no action was taken.
“We told the government that look, please realise that we are becoming vulnerable. All these things are connected. They’re not separate. When you look at a nation you have to look at all these factors and you have to act, taking into account all these factors,” he said.
“We told them to listen; for God’s sake inject money into the economy. Fire the economy and do it immediately; protect the small and medium businesses. They refused to do it,” claimed Gandhi.
He claimed that a weak economy, troubled foreign policy and disturbed neighbourhood prompted China to take an aggressive stand against India over the past few months.
“So, today you have a country which is economically in trouble; in trouble as far as foreign policy is concerned; in trouble with its neighbours; and that’s why the Chinese have decided that this is possibly the best time to act and that is why they have acted,” he said.
Later, Gandhi tweeted: “Since 2014, the PM’s constant blunders and indiscretions have fundamentally weakened India and left us vulnerable. Empty words don’t suffice in the world of geopolitics.”
Earlier, while announcing that he would release videos on different issues, Gandhi had said: “Today a large part of the Indian news media has been captured by fascist interests. A hate-filled narrative is being spread by television channels, WhatsApp forwards and false news. This narrative of lies is tearing India apart. I want to make our current affairs, history and crisis clear and accessible for those interested in the truth.”