This is not the time for politics
Parties shouldn’t question each other’s patriotismUpdated: Jun 26, 2020, 19:31 IST
India is facing its most serious national security crisis since the Kargil conflict. Given that the stand-off this time is with China — a country with more resources, and arguably, superior military capabilities — the situation is particularly grave. And the fact that this external security threat has emerged at a time when India is battling a serious health and economic emergency makes it even more critical. This is not a business-as-usual situation; what citizens expect from the political class right now is a sense of responsibility and unity.
Unfortunately, the accusations and counter-accusations between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and the Congress reflect the opposite. The nature of these accusations is a particular cause for worry, since it is not just confined to the Opposition asking legitimate questions about the government’s handling of the issue or the government pointing to the legacies of the past. Both sides are effectively questioning each other’s patriotism.
Both are to blame. The government was less-than-transparent about the Chinese aggression, which is now officially acknowledged as having started earlier than previously thought. It left the all-party meeting for too late, and even then, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s statement was ambiguous enough to require a subsequent clarification. For its part, the Congress, as a party which has been in power for decades, should be more understanding of national security imperatives, and stop making personal attacks on PM. The BJP has now accused the Congress of having presided over the spiralling trade deficit with China because China was a donor to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. The optics of the donation are wrong and the foundation should not have taken financial support from Chinese government, but to suggest that is what led to a deliberate attempt to harm India’s economy is a stretch. Similarly, the Congress has accused the BJP of having close links with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But to suggest that because party delegations have visited Beijing or interacted with CCP leaders, the BJP has compromised Indian interests is equally a stretch. The Congress has also launched an aggressive online political campaign, built around the theme of Indian soldiers; this is not the time for it. It is time for both the government and the Opposition to step back, have a quiet dialogue and present a united front publicly.