Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of destroying the “web of relationships” that his party had cultivated over the years with neighbouring countries. He warned the Centre that living in a neighbourhood with no friends would be dangerous.

Gandhi made the comment in response to a report published in The Economist on September 19, about Bangladesh’s improving relationship with China and deteriorating ties with India.

“Mr Modi has destroyed the web of relationships that the Congress built and nurtured over several decades,” Gandhi said in a tweet. “Living in a neighbourhood with no friends is dangerous.”

The Congress leader’s remark came amid border tensions between India and China. On Tuesday, however, the two countries said in a joint statement that they had resolved to stop sending more troops to the frontline amid the border standoff. India and China added that they will refrain from unilaterally changing the situation along the Line of Actual Control.

The statement, however, did not mention if the senior commanders from both the sides reached a breakthrough on disengagement and restoration of status quo ante. The de-escalation talks between both the sides on Monday went on for over 12 hours.

Gandhi has repeatedly criticised the Centre for not being clear about the situation at the border and giving conflicting statements. He has also been accusing the prime minister of being scared of China.

Last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs had informed the Parliament that there had been no Chinese infiltration into India in the last six months. A day before that, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had told the Lok Sabha that China had mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the “depth areas”.

India-China standoff

Military heads of the two countries have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months. But these talks have failed to break the impasse. Tensions between India and China flared up after the June 15 clash in Galwan Valley, when 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed.

On September 10, India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”. They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should “continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.

On September 7, China had accused India of “outrageously firing warning shots” in a new confrontation on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake, describing it as as “a serious military provocation”. India denied this and said Chinese troops attempted to close in on Indian forward positions along the Line of Actual Control and “fired a few rounds in the air”. This was the first confirmed use of firearms on the Line of Actual Control by troops in more than four decades.

On September 1, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” on August 31, while discussions between ground commanders were underway. The new escalation in tensions came a day after the Indian Army had said that its soldiers had thwarted similar “provocative” movements by China’s military on August 29 at the South Bank area of Pangong Lake.

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