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Cong calls Jaishankar ‘failed’ foreign minister, slams remarks on China

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NEW DELHI, Feb 22 (PTI): The Congress on Wednesday hit out at external affairs minister S Jaishankar, calling him a “failed” minister and alleging that his remarks on the China issue have “demeaned” the valour of India’s armed forces.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate also alleged that foreign policy has been reduced to photo-ops and a chest-thumping exercise and is being used to secure contracts for a businessman.

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She claimed that the minister had said that “we are the smaller economy and China is the bigger economy and we cannot go and pick a fight with them”.

“What exactly does he mean by saying this? Is he telling us that we are not capable of protecting our territorial sovereignty,” she said.

“What he is trying to do by saying this is essentially ‘break and shake’ the confidence of our Indian economy and demean the valour of our armed forces. This is one of the most blasphemous statements made by any foreign minister,” she told reporters.

On Jaishankar’s reported remark that he has been the longest-serving Indian Ambassador in China, the Congress said in that capacity he will tell when the status along the Line of Actual Control will be restored to the April 2020 position.

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“Why do the prime minister and you stay quiet in China? Why have we increased the trade deficit to 100 USD with China and we are almost funding the Chinese Army to do the incursions that they do,” she said.

“As India’s longest-serving Ambassador to China, what do you have to say on Chinese aggression at the border,” she asked.

She also criticised the minister for targeting the Congress-led governments over their China policy, saying, “You can keep attacking your political opponents but do not do this at the cost of our national security… some things are sacrosanct”.

The Congress spokesperson also listed several steps taken by the UPA government to strengthen border infrastructure, including sanctioning of a 50,000 strong two new mountain divisions and stationing armoured units in Ladakh and Arunachal

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“Foreign policy is supposed to further the interests of this country. Foreign policy is not supposed to be a tool to manage and allocate projects from foreign countries to one business group – that is Adani,” the Congress leader alleged.

Shrinate also spoke of reported remarks of Jaishankar’s father K Subrahmanyam, who she said had written in 2002 after the Gujarat riots that religion has been attacked and “those who did not save innocent citizens are ‘Asuras’ (demons)”.

“You may attack anyone, but you must listen to the words of the elderly who have wisdom and experience. You should listen to your father… He may be old but has wisdom and experience and you should listen to him,” she said.

She claimed that the border with China was largely silent for 50 years after 1967, barring an incident in 1987 and asked why there are so many multiple incursions happening now.

She claimed the UPA government had in 2006 adopted the current active border infra policy and roads, and tunnels, actively marked, were mostly planned by the Shyam Saran task force in 2006.

The construction of roads, tunnels and high landing grounds for heavy aircraft began in 2008 and was largely completed by 2014, she claimed.

The Modi government has repeatedly accused the previous Congress-led governments of deliberately not working on infrastructure in the border areas.

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