Jaishankar slams Rahul Gandhi over his comments during US visit
Jaishankar made the remarks while addressing a special media briefing on foreign policy during nine years of the Modi government
External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday countered Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the Narendra Modi-led Union government during a visit to the US, saying the successful holding of elections won by different parties proved democracy is thriving in India.
Jaishankar made the remarks while addressing a special media briefing on foreign policy during nine years of the Modi government alongside ministers of state V Muraleedharan, Meenakshi Lekhi and Rajkumar Ranjan Singh. He has criticised Gandhi several times, in recent days, over the Congress leader’s comments during public events in the US attacking the government and the state of democracy in India.
Gandhi is in the habit of criticising India and commenting on domestic politics whenever he travels out of the country, Jaishankar said while fielding several questions on the Congress leader.
“The world is watching, and what are they seeing? Elections are held. Sometimes one party wins, and at other times, another party wins. If there is no democracy in the country, such a change wouldn’t be happening. Every election should have the same result. But we know what the result of the 2024 election will be,” Jaishankar said, speaking in Hindi.
Gandhi also expects that his approach would lead to support outside the country. “If you see, all these narratives (against the government) have been made in India. If this narrative does not work in India or gets less attention in the country, then this narrative is taken outside. He expects that outside support will work in India,” he said.
Jaishankar said he had no objection to whatever Gandhi does within the country. “But I don’t think taking the country’s politics abroad is in the national interest. I don’t think his credibility will increase because of this,” he added.
Addressing the Indian diaspora in the US earlier this week, Gandhi contended there was an attack on India’s democratic structures. “Full-scale attack on our institutions, our judiciary, on our media, and it is your responsibility and our responsibility to defend the idea of India,” he said.
Jaishankar said India is now perceived by the global community as a trusted collaborator and a player with an independent stance at a time when the world is being buffeted by challenges such as the Ukraine crisis. After nine years in power, the Modi government has a “very solid report card” as it has been able to make the country more secure while taking steps to ensure the best interests of millions of Indians living and working abroad, he said.
India’s image today is of “an economic collaborator not just with the developing south, but with the global economy”. This can be seen in terms of FDI flows, increased exports, and trusted collaborations, he said. Jaishankar recalled that during his last visit to the US, the American Semiconductor Association told him it has some 40,000 engineers in India working on chip designs alone.
“The point I want to make here is [that] apart from development in terms of South-South, there is a larger economic impact we are making, and that is today increasingly recognised,” he said. The Global South perceives India as a “credible and effective development partner with delivery on the ground”.
NEED A CONGRESS REACTION
Jaishankar described the government’s 2019 decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir as a “very crucial and long-awaited step for national security”. The special status of the region had been “kept beyond its shelf life” and the bottom line was that the whole world was using this status against India, he said.
“They saw it as a vulnerability, as something they should keep pressing and keep using as a way of keeping India off balance. If we don’t get it right, how do we expect the world to get it right,” he added.
Responding to a question on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s possible participation in the G20 Summit to be hosted by India in September, Jaishankar said the meeting is only for G20 members and countries and organisations invited by the Indian side. “So, it is not something that we have reviewed, and it is not something, very honestly, which we have discussed with anybody,” he said.
Jaishankar said the Indian side is endeavouring to find common ground in the upcoming G20 Summit and have a consensus on the leaders’ declaration. “I remember last year there were a lot of challenges in getting the final G20 declaration...But I would also share with you that even at that time, a lot of us worked alongside Indonesia...and all of us put our collective energies together in that regard,” he said.
“There are differences of opinion even about what was agreed to in Bali last year. ...Diplomats are still working on it. So, I don’t want to predict, I don’t want to...give too many details. I accept your point that it’s a challenge, but diplomacy is a business for optimistic people,” he added.
- External Affairs Minister