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In Rahul Gandhi, Jaishankar picks an easy target. Modi govt’s real task is to push China back

Everything the BJP govt has done since 19 June is to tiptoe around PM Modi's statement on the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh during the all-party meeting.

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi shed the politician’s uniform, the white kurta-pyjama, for a light blue boardroom shirt in two beautifully – and expensively – shot videos over the last week, as he attempted to pin the Narendra Modi government down on its foreign policy mistakes, especially on China.

In the first video released on 17 July, Gandhi asked: Why has China chosen this particular time to violate the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh?

In the second video, posted on 20 July, Gandhi pointed out that the Chinese don’t do anything without thinking about strategy, so what’s their tactical and strategic game-plan?

Perhaps the question to be asked here is how Rahul Gandhi found the time to make these China videos — notice the care with which they have been shot, the ombre merging into a dark background, the post-production work showing up his tanned lines — but hasn’t said a word in defence of his former friend and colleague, Sachin Pilot, who has been roundly humiliated by senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot these last few days.

Clearly, Rahul Gandhi would rather speak of the enemy at the gates in Ladakh instead of addressing the enemy within. A leader who cannot protect his own, who would stand by and allow the older generation to eat their young, how can he protect India when it is in trouble – never mind that the Congress party is thrilled that their Dear Leader’s second China video has been trending on Twitter all morning?

In response to Rahul’s first video, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar let fly a storm of 10 tweets. Unlike Gandhi, Jaishankar certainly doesn’t want to be prime minister ; he knows he has unprecedented power already. But loyalty to the PM demanded that he respond to the Congress leader, even if it meant unfairly targeting the previous government that did not fall because of foreign policy miscalculations – and even if the attack on the past showed up his own ministry in bad light.

So let’s analyse five of Jaishankar’s responses to Rahul Gandhi:

1. SJ: India engages with China on more equal terms politically.

It is true that PM Modi has met China’s top leader, President Xi Jinping, more times than any previous leader, which is a good thing. But Modi’s team is certainly emboldened by soldiers such as 23-year-old Gurtej Singh and several others, who displayed incredible courage on 15 June night on the frigid heights of the Galwan Valley, when they killed several Chinese soldiers, including their commanding officer.

The point here is that in dealing with the Chinese, Jaishankar should know that the moral high ground belongs to India, and not just PM Modi.

Also read: Balancing LAC tension with economic strategy — How India can walk the tightrope against China

2. SJ: We speak our mind more openly now…Ask the media.

Being a former diplomat, Jaishankar understands dissent. He has dealt with journalists and tried to win them over because he knew it was important in order to spread India’s message. But as EAM, he presides over a ministry that would rather speak to journalists who agree with him. ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’ is his ministry’s message.

3. SJ: Address the border infrastructure legacy… Ask our jawans.

In this school of thought, the building of India can only be compared in six-year blocks, because Modi has completed 6 years in power. It doesn’t matter that Manmohan Singh was PM from 2004-2014, during which period the China Study Group first proposed that border infrastructure should be vastly improved. To its credit, Modi has carried that idea forward, as he should have.

But what if Jaishankar were to also look up the previous six-year period, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was PM and under whom the Special Representative mechanism with China was set up? He will find that infrastructure along the border with China was either non-existent or abysmal.

Also read: Modi’s underrated strategy of neutralising criticism helps him retain the Teflon coating

4. SJ: Nepal after 17 years is getting… a swathe of developmental projects. Ask their citizens.

Someone badly messed up on this tweet. In 2015, the Modi government decided to support the Madhesi agitation; in 2017, the Ministry of External Affairs failed to understand the anti-India politics of Communist leader K.P. Oli; and in 2020, Nepal is releasing new maps claiming disputed territory as its own. From 2015 onwards, India’s Nepal policy has gone only in one direction: southward.

5. SJ: And Pakistan notes the difference between Balakot & Uri on the one hand and Sharm-el Sheikh, Havana & 26/11 on the other…Ask yourself.

One wonders what Jaishankar would have said about Vajpayee’s Lahore bus ride in 1999, the IC-814 hijacking that saw the Vajpayee government give up three terrorists, and then, only two years later, invite Pervez Musharraf, the author of the Kargil conflict, to peace talks in Agra? And when all those measures failed, Vajpayee didn’t give up but set up another summit in January 2004 with Musharraf in Pakistan?

So, the question is, should Jaishankar resist the temptation to score political points off an opposition leader – Rahul Gandhi, in this case – who doesn’t really know better? Surely, the good EAM knows that there are several people with longer memories and better understanding of context?

Rahul Gandhi is an easy target. The tough work will come when the Modi government will have to use all its persuasive power as well as its friendships with powerful nations like the US and Russia to get China to fully withdraw on its own side of the LAC.

One last question: Who sanctioned PM Modi’s talking points at the 19 June all-party meeting on the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, when the PM said “no one had intruded into Indian territory or taken any post”? Everything the government has done subsequently is to tiptoe around that statement and walk back the Chinese on the ground. Can someone in the MEA explain that one, please?

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  1. India is not going to push them back. China has in fact made us move back. And Modi cronies are claiming victory! That mus t be music to Chinese ears.

    All the govt. is focusing on now, is to try prevent China from coming in further.

  2. The title gives it away. Jyoti speaks like the spokesperson of the dynasty. A dynasty who singularly possess the right to vilify others, albeit by hurling lies, but hey how dare you question them.

    No one can deny India must stand upto China, and get its land back. But this charge against Modi coming from Congress and the scion of the Dynasty sounds ludicrous at best and immoral at worst.

    Let Rahul promise to get the land his ancestors have lutaoed to China and Pakistan, let him set a time period and the whole country would vote for him.

    Jyoti, you are both: benevolent to Rahul and unfair to Doctor at the same time. Your arguments are as forceful or as facile as Rahul’ s messages.

    • Looks like you only read the title. Next time read the article before commenting! The author soundly criticises RG too!

  3. Isn’t pushing back the China sympathizers within us an equally important task? One set back in this complex China relationship inherited by MODI is for some a matter celebration, one just needs to watch the language.

    • Criticizing Modi does not makes us China sympathizers. And pushing back against us, is exactly what China wants.. a divided nation!

  4. The Print can try hard …….. but the fact on the ground is that Mr RG has 0 credibility left. Speaking in China’s voice is a huge mistake from which Congress and Mr RG will never recover from.

  5. Probably, Jyothi Malhotra feels matronly affection for Rahul Gandhi who is getting verbally bashed every now and then. But, if Rahul Gandhi flies off the handle and tweets the first though that comes to his little mind, one has to conclude that he is suffering from “bayan dene ka bimari”. If he frequently suffers attacks of foot-in-the-mouth disease, proper course is take advice from veterans like P.Chidambaram, or Abhishek Singhvi, the slick lawyer.

  6. Despite writing REAMS, you haven’t still proven that PM Modi was inaccurate to say that China hasn’t intruded into Indian territory or taken any post. The Chinese, be it an Pangong Tso or Depsang Plains have stopped short of even their own claim line, even if they have deployed extensively and with pre-meditation in these areas . Even in the Galwan River valley, they have intruded into an area which India didn’t patrol or have a permanent presence. The idea that China has “taken” Indian territory is a journalistic narrative that doesn’t recognise reality . There are standoffs at multiple locations, initiated by the Chinese, standoffs that India is answering with equal force and presence. The Chinese are under no delusion that India is ceding land or amicable to their change of the LAC. So there are two real choice before the Chinese – stay and drive relations with India south or leave and lose face AGAIN.

    • You idiot, they have come beyond their 1960 claim lines.. what more proof do you need. I understand it hurts that all the gas has been beaten out of your master’s 56-inch chest. But that does not allow you to abandon your motherland!

      In Galwan, the clash took place at Patrolling Point 14 – that’s India’s PP14, not the Chinese! Why do you think our soldiers died?! Because we wanted to take over their territory?! And FYI, Chinese have never lost face when it comes to the border. They have always taken territory, including this time.

  7. As a common man I flummoxed by the title of this article. How a person who wishes to be future prime minister of such complex nation can be an easy target of a career diplomat? I fear to think what will happen if he faces leaders like xi or Putin? His surname may be useful to Indian elites represented in the entire spectrum of five pillars of democracy to get their share of pie but as a common Indian we understand how this family fooled us for so long years. The journalist may not be able to generate much needed sympathy by writing such articles.

  8. RG is the one providing the reason for existence of ruling party mandarins, their media friends and supporters. In the last 6 odd years apart from blaming RG, there has been no real steps taken by the ruling party to improve economy, defense, people’s livelihoods or soldier’s lives – yet it is RG who gets blamed for anything and everything. What happens if RG stops asking questions? Will our China problem get solved? Will the Chinese stop supporting Pakistan and vacate our land? No other politician from the opposition is even bothering to raise any questions – questions that you yourself have acknowledged legitimately exist and which the EAM continues to ignore.

    About Rajasthan – please enlighten us madam what should RG have done – supported Pilot who himself commands loyalty of 15 MLAs versus Gehlot who holds sway over 90 odd? If he had supported Pilot and let the Rajasthan govt fall, your media friends would have then accused him of supporting a dynast and not paying heed to the majority. It is like RG is playing a game where he cannot win regardless of what he does.

  9. Heard on Republic TV …. “Which Dumbo wrote Rahul Baba’s script for his videos”.
    Hilarious…. just hilarious. Rahul G please make more videos, the country needs to laugh in these crazy times – you are too funny.

  10. It’s past time that the ruling party gives up its obsession with the Gandhi parivar and Congress party. Time to buckle up and address real challenges whether it is defence, economy, foreign policy, governance, Covid 19 and healthcare, education and much more. Rather then constantly being distracted by pinpricks let some real action do the talking.

  11. An undeserving dynast who is not even fit to sell vegetables is creating videos on international affairs. Listen to the subtle & not so subtle pro-China messages in these videos – this will turn the fence sitters into pro-BJP.
    Congress and Pappu are now viewed by everyone as Chinese termites.

  12. Rahul tweeted and moved to another topic without waiting to hear any response from Modi. Just as Modi does not bother to reply to Rahul, Rahul does not bother to wait for Modi’s reply and he fires the next salvo forgetting earlier ones. However, Jyoti has now taken up cudgels on behalf of Rahula and sickular gang and tired to show down Jaishankar. Shekhar would say-Jyoti- there is no need for the article; ‘Samjhane wale samajh gay hai!!

  13. The Congress is a laughing stock in India; what do they expect if they project a Clown as their “Leader”?

  14. Why not Journos faithful to dynasty tell RG should be allowed to look for some new profession. In politics he is/ will be utter failure. In politics no one takes him seriously except some pliant journalists on the payroll of the dynasty and party. If he does not want to leave politics, at least he should scale down his ambitions. At the most he can be an M.P, ,that too ,, from a non -Hindus majority seats in non-Hindu majority state like Kerala. RG worshiping journalists will keep on drowning down the prestige of their employers / publishers like this portal is doing . Congress party is on ventilator and is on its last legs, Most of its present members are reconciled that fate, otherwise they would have thrown out/ expelled this moron from harming the party.

    • Vikram Haar-ora, Kerala is Hindu majority. Unlike your kind, they’re educated and evolved! Also, the constituency he was elected from has 41% Hindus, 45% Muslims and 14% Christians. His vote share was 65% and the voter turnout was a record 76%. The NDA candidate’s vote share was just 7%!!

      • Subin Kerala is now Islamic republic of Kerala whose moron chief minister is involved in gold smuggling

  15. Dr S Jaishankar and General V K Singh rose to the top of their respective services, served the country with distinction and integrity for a lifetime. During which time governments of different political hues held office. Many fine achievements, some failures. They were part of it all. They are now political appointees in a government for which domestic politics segues seamlessly into foreign policy and national security. To split the history of modern India into BC and AD phases is troubling. All the more for their junior colleagues who are still in service. They might get ideas about the post retirement careers they should be dreaming of. Not everyone has the integrity of FS Sujatha Singh who declined a five year sinecure in the UPSC, faded honourably into the sunset.

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