Will an Indian spokesperson comment on Germany’s internal issues?

Mar 30, 2023 10:10 AM IST

The gratuitous legal advice given by German government spokesperson on Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification is not diplomacy but uncalled for interference in India’s judicial process.

At a news conclave on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made it clear that no foreign diplomat had raised the issue of disqualification of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi after a court conviction. He said: “The law is the law, unless somebody thinks that the law is not for them.”

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

While the Opposition led by Congress is well within rights to milk the disqualification issue and try to put the blame on Narendra Modi government for political gains, the reaction of official spokespersons of US and then Germany on Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification raises the question on the locus standi of the two countries on a legal issue within India. Why should the media seek validation of Anglo-Saxon powers on internal issues of India and who are they to sit on judgement on a court judgement in the world’s largest democracy?

While the US spokesperson merely replied to a question by stating that the State Department was following the issue, the German spokesperson went many steps ahead and in fact ended up giving legal options of filing an appeal to the conviction to the disqualified Congress MP. It was not so long ago that the German Foreign Minister gave unsolicited advice on Jammu and Kashmir in order to extract some leverage from Pakistan on Afghan refugees post takeover of Taliban, only to be brushed aside by the Modi government. She, however, chose her words carefully when she last visited India.

Over the past decades, the standard operating procedure of foreign correspondents covering the Indian sub-continent particularly from Pakistan is to seek replies of the US State Department spokesperson on India-Pakistan bilateral relations and on events within India. And equally galling are the replies from joint secretary level officers on topics well outside their ambit with no concern or to their own countries.

While one understands that diplomacy is a direct function of global political power of a country, only off late the Indian diplomacy under the Modi government has decided to level the playing field with the Anglo-Saxon west and unsolicited comments from Chinese diplomats. It was not too long ago that the Scandinavian countries with no locus standi were unilaterally involved in sorting out the Jammu and Kashmir issue by hosting track II dialogues and funding biased narratives.

As the European country closest to China and Russia before the Ukraine war, Germany particularly has been trying to leverage with India on Jammu and Kashmir while funding Indian journalists' visit to their country to write on issues like the 2002 Gujarat riots and other communally sensitive issues. Despite repeated requests, Germany has refused to take action against Punjab separatists, who are raising funds to polarize the Indian diaspora abroad.

While India stays clear from commenting on internal affairs of third countries, the German spokesperson has paved a path for retaliation on similar grounds as the country has a dark past written in blood of innocents. Will the Indian spokesperson next time comment on the changing German stance on the Ukraine war?


    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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