Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar retorted to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday after Gandhi asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “blunders and indiscretions have fundamentally weakened India and left us vulnerable”.
“Since 2014, the PM’s constant blunders and indiscretions have fundamentally weakened India and left us vulnerable,” Gandhi tweeted. “Empty words don’t suffice in the world of geopolitics.”
In response, Jaishankar tweeted a series of responses, telling Gandhi that India’s major global partnerships and international standing were higher than before. He said that while India now engaged with China on politically more equal terms, it also has regular summits with the United States, Russia, Europe and Japan.
“Bhutan finds a stronger security and development partner,” he said. “And unlike 2013, they don’t worry about their cooking gas. Ask their households.” In July 2013, India had withdrawn all subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene being provided to Bhutan, affecting ties between the two countries.
“Afghanistan sees completed projects (Salma Dam, Parliament), expanded training and serious connectivity,” Jaishankar tweeted. “Ask the Afghan street.” Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited Nepal after 17 years, and the country is getting developmental projects from India.
He added that Pakistan knows the “difference between Balakot & Uri [strikes] on the one hand, and Sharm-el-Sheikh, Havana & 26/11 [Mumbai attacks] on the other”.
In the cases of Uri and Balakot, India had responded to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Congress-led central government had signed two agreements with Pakistan.
“We speak our mind more openly now,” Jaishankar said. “On CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor], on BRI [Belt and Road Initiative], on South China Sea, on UN-sanctioned terrorists. Ask the media.”
The external affairs minister said business ties between India and Maldives have “transformed”, years after they worsened due to the toppling of President Mohamed Nasheed from power in 2012. Jaishankar also claimed that terrorists do not find safe haven in Bangladesh any more, and India had concluded a land boundary agreement with that country.
Jaishankar also claimed that border infrastructure projects had been considerably sped up under the National Democratic Alliance government. “Ask the Army,” he told Gandhi.
The Congress leader has been attacking the government over a variety of foreign policy matters over the past month. Earlier on Friday, Gandhi had asked why the Chinese moved to attack Indian soldiers across the Line of Actual Control at this time (when a coronavirus pandemic is raging around the world).
On July 12, Gandhi had asked what exactly transpired that China “took away” India’s land in Ladakh when Modi is at the helm of affairs. Gandhi cited a report by The Wire, which quoted defence expert Ajai Shukla as saying that the government was misleading the media on Chinese disengagement along the Line of Actual Control, and that the de-escalation process at Galwan Valley was disadvantageous to India. Last month, the Congress leader had accused Modi of “surrendering” to China.