The diabolical reaction of the Congress to the standoff came as no surprise given that it has signed an MoU with the Chinese Communist Party and Rahul Gandhi held a secret meeting with Ambassador Luo Zhaohui which was kept a secret until outed by the media.
- Dr Sumeet Bhasin
Congress signed an MoU with CCP in 2008 and also held secret talks with China's ambassador when India was engaging with China in Doklam
Recent developments at India’s eastern border has shifted the focus to a pressing issue of resolving the border dispute with our eastern neighbour. That many such disputes have continued for decades show how successive Congress governments with a sizable mandate have often ignored such strategic issues creating several legacy problems for future governments.
The present administration has, in fact, tried its best to resolve the bulk of these problems within a short span of time. However, the border dispute continues to remain, and recent developments have shifted the focus back to our eastern border. That the present government is likely to maintain a tough stance on the issue is a foregone conclusion as it prides itself in complete dedication to India’s territorial integrity.
However, what is worrisome is the conduct of India’s grand old party which continues to undermine India’s strategic interests. The Indian National Congress, which happens to also be the single largest opposition party used the forum of the All-Party Meeting to politicize an issue which is as sensitive as this.
Such politicization has become a routine political strategy of the Congress as this was at display even during the surgical strikes or the subsequent air-strikes when the party refused to believe the word of India’s armed forces. In fact, it raised questions on the integrity and the valour of our servicemen when it asked for proof of such strikes. No wonder that the Congress continuously denied One-Rank One-Pension to our defence personnel and it took the current administration to deliver on the same.
At the All-Party Meeting on the 19th, nearly all parties provided support to the government to show a united front during this crisis. There is tremendous international support that has also been expressed by several leaders due to the immense goodwill generated by the Prime Minister’s international outreach programs. However, even at a time of such a critical situation, the Congress president could not extend support and used it as an opportunity to question India’s military intelligence.
Questioning the government is the legitimate right of an opposition, however, a responsible opposition would recognize the gravity of the situation and extend full support to the government in dealing with the crisis. Upon the crisis being over, there will be several opportunities to politicize the issue, however, Congress has not behaved like a responsible opposition. It is perhaps this reason why regional players have gained extensively at its expense as the party faces a near extinction over the coming few years.
However, Congress has repeatedly tried to undermine our forces and demoralize them over the years. A recent example is the extensive campaign of lies and half-truths before the 2019 elections on the Rafale deal which were geared with the intention of perhaps derailing the deal and crippling our Air Force capabilities.
It is now well regarded that there were capabilities within our defence establishment to undertake surgical strikes even after the 26/11 attacks, however, the then government refused to allow the forces to display their valour. Instead, we had senior members of the government come out and term it as a ‘RSS Conspiracy’ with the intention of linking the attacks to the RSS and eventually BJP. This would have gone well with the ‘Saffron Terror’ narrative that was being furthered by leaders of the Congress at that point in time. To politicize and subsequently communalize a terror attack, aided by an adversary displays the lever of regard of the grand old party towards our national security.
Another example is of UPA – 2 where nearly 600 incursions were made by the Chinese into the Indian side between 2010 and 2013. In fact, China had occupied 640 sq km of Indian territory during UPA – 2 in the Eastern Ladakh region.
The Doklam controversy is the best example of how the current administration has dealt with the issue of Chinese incursion as it has allowed the army to act in accordance with protecting the territorial integrity of the country. This is in contrast with the Congress party which saw its senior leader, Rahul Gandhi meet the Chinese envoy during the standoff. Doing so at a time of crisis severely undermines our interests but more importantly breaks away from the long-standing culture of bipartisanship support on sensitive issues.
Congress’s reaction to the standoff should come as no surprise given that in 2008 it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese Communist Party. The purpose of the same was to provide them with an opportunity to consult with each other on important bilateral, regional, and international developments. This pact and the secret meeting between Rahul Gandhi and Ambassador Luo Zhaohui raise several questions regarding the relationship between the Congress and the CCP. What is more concerning is that the meeting was first kept as a secret, later media reports were denied until the party finally acknowledged that such a meeting did take place.
(Sumeet Bhasin is director of Public Policy Research Center, a Delhi-based think tank. The views expressed here are personal.)