Congress on Thursday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned India’s foreign policy into a “photo opportunity”. Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate made the comment at a press briefing, while responding to a question on the party’s stand on Modi’s five-day visit to the United States.

Shrinate said that Modi’s approach is the reason why India was not finding a place at the “deciding table” on major international matters.

“There was a time when no decision of international importance was taken without India’s participation,” she said. “But today, India is not being made a partner.”

On Thursday, the prime minister held talks with US Vice President Kamala Harris on various matters, including the coronavirus pandemic and the situation in Afghanistan. He also held meetings with with his Japanese and Australian counterparts Yoshihide Suga and Scott Morrison.

On Friday, Modi is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with US President Joe Biden and attend the first in-person summit of the Quad grouping. He will address the General Assembly of the United Nations on Saturday.

The Quad is an alliance of the US, India, Australia and Japan.

Shrinate, however, said that India’s role at international conventions was diminishing.

She said that while representing India at international meetings, the prime minister should use the opportunity to talk about India’s interests.

“Foreign policy is not just about embracing,” she said. “Its essence lies in prioritising India’s interests. But, be it Afghanistan, Russia, China or America, talks are not held while keeping India’s interests in the forefront.”

Compensation announced for Covid fatalities is ‘humiliating’, says Congress

The Congress spokesperson also criticised the Modi-led central government for compensation amount it has announced for families of those who have died due to coronavirus. On Wednesday, the Centra had announced that states will pay Rs 50,000 as ex-gratia compensation to the families of the deceased.

Shrinate said that the amount was “humiliating”.

“The government has been dragging its feet on compensation [for the families of deceased Covid-19 patients] from day 1,” she said.

Shrinate demanded that Rs 5 lakh should be paid as compensation. She said it was possible to give the amount, claiming that the central government had collected Rs 4 lakh crore from excise duty on fuel in the last one year.

The Congress also demanded that the central government should carry out a state-level survey to find out the exact toll due to the pandemic.

Several states have excess deaths during the initial months of this year which coincided with the severe second wave of the pandemic. Excess deaths is the divergence between deaths all-cause deaths reported this year and in normal years.