Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that the United States was silent about the developments in India. He made the remark during an online discussion with Harvard University Professor Nicholas Burns, who is also the former US under secretary of state.
“I don’t hear anything from the US establishment about what’s happening in India,” Gandhi said during the discussion. “If you are saying partnership of democracies, I mean what is your view on what is going on here.”
The US State Department had on Tuesday released the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The report identified “unlawful and arbitrary killings, arbitrary arrest and detention by government authorities, overly restrictive rules on non-governmental organisations, violence against women and minorities and restrictions on freedom of expression and the press” as some of the concerns in India. On Friday, the Centre dismissed the report, saying that it was clearly an internal exercise of the US.
During the discussion, Gandhi alleged that there was a “wholesale capture” of India’s institutional framework by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, PTI reported. He added that this had changed the paradigm under which Opposition parties functioned after 2014.
“To fight elections, I need institutional structures, I need a judicial system that protects me, I need a media that is reasonably free, I need financial parity, I need a set of institutional structures that allow me to operate as a political party,” the Congress leader said. “I do not have them.”
Gandhi cited the example of Assembly elections in Assam. “The gentleman who is running our campaign has been sending me videos of BJP candidates running around with voting machines in their cars,” Gandhi was quoted as saying by PTI. “He is screaming at the top his voice saying look, I have got a really serious problem here, but there is nothing going on in the national media.”
The Election Commission had on Friday suspended four officials and ordered repolling in a booth in Ratabari constituency of Assam, after the electronic voting machine used to cast the ballots was found in a car belonging to a BJP candidate.
On what he would do as PM
On being asked what his priority would be if he were the prime minister, Gandhi said that he would move from a growth-centric idea to a job-centric idea of the economy, PTI reported.
The Congress leader opined that the growth of an economy was meaningless if it didn’t generate enough jobs.
“Currently if look at our growth, the type of relationship that should be there between our growth and job creation, between value addition, between production is not there,” Gandhi said, according to NDTV. “The Chinese lead value addition, I have never met a Chinese leader who says to me ‘I’ve got a job-creation problem.”
On India-China conflict
The Congress leader said that China was occupying Indian territory but there was no talk of it in the media.
“Why they are able to do this is because they see a weakened India,” Gandhi said, according to PTI. “They see an India that is internally divided, an India that is not acting strategically, an India that is not seeing the larger picture.
Gandhi, while speaking about the Quad alliance, said that both military and economic strategies were required to counter China.
Border tensions flared up in June after deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clashes. China identified the casualties on its side only in February, saying that four soldiers died.
The talks between the militaries of the two countries began soon after the clashes. However, a breakthrough came only in February this year as Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed Parliament about the disengagement agreement reached between India and China. The disengagement process along Pangong Tso in Ladakh began on February 10 and the process has been completed. On Friday, India asked China to build on the progress that the two countries had made in Pangong Lake in Ladakh and disengage from other friction areas in the region too.