New Delhi: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said China is a bigger threat to India than Pakistan and India’s foreign policy towards China has remained unchanged from first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to incumbent PM Narendra Modi.
During a conversation with coalition ally Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, the executive editor of his party’s mouthpiece Saamana, Pawar said India’s relations with its neighbouring countries had worsened and China had distanced these countries from India lately.
The second part of the three-part interview with the NCP president was published Sunday.
“In our country, whenever we think about who is our friend and who is our foe, we always think of Pakistan as the enemy. But, my opinion since many years has been that we don’t have any real worry from Pakistan,” Pawar told Raut, who is also Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP.
“Pakistan takes steps that go against our wellbeing, but from a longer-term perspective, only China has the power, vision and programme to cause us trouble,” he added.
Pawar also talked about the “huge difference” in the strengths of the Chinese and Pakistani armies. He noted that even when one compared India’s Army, Air Force and Naval capacity to China, the ratio would be 1:10.
“Over the years, China has knowingly built this with focused efforts,” he said, adding that India’s issues with China cannot be sorted by military strength, but only through a diplomatic strategy.
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‘China has distanced every neighbouring country from India’
Pawar said India’s diplomatic policy has remained fairly unchanged under Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihar Vajpayee and now PM Modi.
Relations with our neighbouring countries have in fact worsened of late, noted Pawar, in an indirect reference to the Modi government.
“When Modi came to power, he displayed that he had taken a different perspective, but that did not last,” he said, adding that China has distanced every neighbouring country from India.
“Pakistan has anyway been with China. Nepal, which had always been with us, has now been distanced. If you remember, when Modi first became PM, he had been to Nepal, performed a puja at the Pashupatinath temple, had praised the country as the first Hindu nation and our friend, but now Nepal is also not with us. It is with China,” Pawar said.
The former Union defence minister also highlighted that the situation with Bangladesh was no different. While India had put in a lot of effort towards Bangladesh’s formation, the country recently signed a trade deal with China, he said.
Recently, Pawar had also said that the standoff with China should not be politicised.
Explaining his statement in the interview, the NCP chief said, “The reason I say don’t bring politics in this issue is because if tomorrow we send our force, we attack, though we can do that, the counter attack will be such that the country will have to pay a huge price for this. That can’t be ignored.”
“It would be wiser to first try and find a solution through negotiations, diplomatic pressure with the help of other countries and with the help of organisations such as the United Nations,” he added.
Need a Manmohan Singh for the economy today: Pawar
Pawar also talked about the economic crisis in the country, noting that the Modi government should take the aid of experts and engage in dialogue with other parties to revive the economy.
“There was one respected person as the RBI Governor. I don’t know what happened, but unfortunately he resigned,” Pawar said, without naming anyone. Both Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel had resigned as RBI governors under the Modi government.
“We should talk to such people who we can call experts or there are people like Dr Manmohan Singh too… The country 100 per cent needs a Manmohan Singh today,” Pawar said.
“In the set-up that Modi saheb has today, there are so many such people who don’t have any experience of handling a situation like this,” the former chief minister of Maharashtra said.
He also criticised the Modi government’s handling of the Covid crisis.
“With regards to the coronavirus, none of us have the experience of dealing with a situation like this in the past. But, the way everyone should be taken along in taking steps to beat this danger, we don’t see that happening,” said Pawar.
“There should be a dialogue with everyone. I don’t see that dialogue,” he added.
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