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After Rahul Gandhi’s Odisha Dialogue, BJP targets him over Kailash yatra

The BJP has alleged that Rahul Gandhi’s Kailash yatra was an excuse for meeting Chinese ministers in secret.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2019 17:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sambit Patra,Rahul Gandhi,Odisha
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, January 25, 2019.(Photo: Twitter/@BJP4India)

Hours after Congress president Rahul Gandhi told a conference in Odisha that he would respond with “a hug” to the “abuses” given by the BJP, party spokesperson Sambit Patra picked up a remark from the same meeting to launch counter-attack on the main opposition party. Sambit Patra sought to know from the Congress and Rahul Gandhi the details of his “meeting with Chinese ministers in Beijing” during Kailash Mansarovar yatra in “August-September 2018”.

Patra said, “We want to know from the Congress what transpired between Rahul Gandhi and the Chinese ministers. Why the protocol (of informing the Ministry of External Affairs) was not followed for the meeting?”

The BJP’s offensive against Rahul Gandhi followed the Congress president attack on the RSS, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interaction with the intellectuals in Bhubaneswar as part of the Odisha Dialogue earlier in the day. At the public meeting, Rahul Gandhi referred to his Kailash Mansarovar yatra to say that he “met a couple of Chinese ministers” during his visit to China.

Responding to a question from the audience on the state of education and job creation in India, Rahul Gandhi said, “When I had gone to Kailash, I met a couple of their ministers and they said that job creation was not a problem here. We are creating plenty of jobs. In fact, we have too many jobs.”

The BJP picked the mention of meeting with Chinese ministers from Rahul Gandhi’s remarks and turned the table on the Congress president. Patra said, “We had raised questions back then saying that we had information that in the name of paying a Kailash Mansarovar, Rahul Gandhi had gone to China to meet their ministers.”

“When Rahul Gandhi went for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, a letter was sent by the Chinese ambassador to the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) that he wanted to give him a ceremonial see him off. This protocol is limited to the heads of the state or the Leader of Opposition,” said Patra alleging that he had a tacit understanding with a foreign country leadership.

He said, “Now it is clear why China wanted to extend this protocol to Rahul Gandhi. Yatra was just an excuse, he had meet Chinese ministers and discuss something. The cat is out of the bag today. He had to go to Beijing…The BJP had back then asked Rahul Gandhi to clarify which Chinese minister he was planning to meet in Beijing. The Congress had then said that Rahul Gandhi would not meet any Chinese minister as it was a personal religious tour.”

“Why did not he inform this to the Ministry of External Affairs? Why was the Indian embassy kept out of the loop? What he had to discreetly discuss with the Chinese ministers that Rahul Gandhi did not keep the MEA in loop,” asked Patra.

The BJP spokesperson alleged this is not the first time that a discreet meeting between Rahul Gandhi and Chinese authorities has happened, Patra said referring to “a meeting of the Congress president, sister Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra when Doklam stand-off was going on.”

In summer of 2017, the troops of India and China were engaged in an over two months standoff at a high-altitude plateau in Bhutan. The issue was resolved through talks that resulted in the decision for mutual withdrawal of troops as against the Chinese demand for unilateral withdrawal by India.

First Published: Jan 25, 2019 17:11 IST