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China potential threat number one: George

Venting anger over the Tibet crisis and India's response to it, the NDA leader says the Olympic torch should not be allowed to come to India.

delhi Updated: Mar 30, 2008 14:50 IST

Describing as an "error" the NDA government's decision to recognise Tibet as a part of China, former Defence Minister George Fernandes has said the Communist nation was "potential threat number one" to India and flayed the UPA dispensation for allowing it to be "bullied".

Venting anger over the Tibet crisis and India's response to it, the NDA leader said the Olympic torch should not be allowed to come to India and that he had asked his "colleagues" and others to make "whatever effort" to prevent the flame's run in this country.

"It was not a mistake but an error. It should not have been done," he said about India's decision to recognise Tibet as part of China during the previous Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in which he was the Defence Minister.

Fernandes told Karan Thapar's 'Devil's Advocate' programme on CNN-IBN that China is "still potential threat number one" and "could become an enemy", as he recalled his statement on similar lines 10 years back.

Commenting on the recent incident of Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao being summoned by the Chinese Foreign Ministry past midnight, Fernandes said New Delhi had "surrendered" over the issue.

"Well, our government allowed it. It has no shame," he said, adding that the government should have advised its envoy to wait till the next day. "Elsewhere that's what would have happened."

Rao was summoned past midnight to register concern over breach of security at Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.

"India has sold out to China," he alleged. Asked whether India was being "bullied" by China, Fernandes replied "absolutely, and it accepts it."

The former Defence Minister said India's attitude towards China was because of the 1962 war. "I have a feeling that what happened in 1962 is still affecting people's mind and they can't get out of it," he said.

Fernandes also took exception at the Chinese government lauding India for its handling of the Tibetan protests in the country.

"It is a disgrace that China should say that India has done well," he said. He termed as "inadequate" India's response expressing distress at the events in Tibet, saying New Delhi "should have shown more courage."

He said India should boycott the Olympics in Beijing scheduled in August and not allow the torch to pass through its territory.

"I have asked all my colleagues and those who are with Tibet that they should prevent China from crossing our border with this torch," he said.

On Indo-Pak relations, Fernandes said he had had a "series of secret dinners" with Pakistan High Commissioner to India Ashraf Jahangir Qazi in the run up to the 2001 Agra summit.

The series of meetings, he said, helped improve the relationship between India and Pakistan. Fernandes said the decision of the then NDA government to expel Qazi in 2002 in the aftermath of the attack on Parliament was a "mistake."

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