The more one wants to appreciate Mr Rahul Gandhi, the more one ends up rejecting him. Either he does not understand the sentiments of the people of his country, or he is too much in awe of his media friends who assure him that they would be able to create optics of an anti-NDA, anti-BJP and anti-Modi narrative which he can encash.
No one with a balanced mind would blame the Indian establishment or the Prime Minister for the present stand-off with China. The whole world knows that China has been an aggressor and is trying to create problems for India to assert its expansionism and proclaimed superiority. It knows that India is not the initiator and at best can be accused of safeguarding its borders more vigorously than ever before.
Twenty soldiers have sacrificed their lives to maintain the integrity of the borders. They fought bravely, men to men in close combat and, as reported by ANI, killed 43 of the aggressors. Rahul Gandhi has problems why the government is not naming China. Simply foolish. Who are these aggressors? Whom did the Indian army kill?
Our soldiers deserve all praise. They had their firearms but did not use them as per the international agreement with China for border patrolling. Such bravery and such discipline needs to be saluted. Their martyrdom should make us proud and should not be the reason for petty politicking. Rather than explaining to the people why such an agreement was signed that binds our soldiers, Mr Gandhi is asking questions as to why our soldiers were killed. He should ask the Chinese why they did not stick to the agreed border norms and used lethal weapons.
The soldiers decided to implement the understanding reached among corps commanders of both sides — India and China — of going back to the pre-determined positions on the respective sides of the LAC. They could have easily looked the other way.
Close to 600 soldiers including young officers sacrificed their lives during Operation Vijay in Kargil in 1999. But we were able to inflict heavy casualties on the other side (Pakistan), got the captured territories vacated and won a war that looked impossible for most world military experts. It is only through such a gallant display of soldiering and sacrifice that the nation rises in its self-esteem and worth. We do not bewail the sacrifice of soldiers but salute their martyrdom.
Issues such as why they violated the international agreement on borders should be asked to the aggressor and not to the one defending the same. Our abilities should be seen in the context of our determination to flush them out, should the adversary make such an attempt.
If our adversary is not dependable and uses chicanery and deceit as medium these should not become the reason to praise them. Every Indian is proud that the aggressor is dealt with firmly and professionally.
Now some embarrassing questions for Mr Rahul Gandhi. “Pakistan has been in illegal and forcible occupation of approximately 78,000 sq km of Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir. China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq km in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, under the so-called `Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5180 sq. kms of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China.” This was stated in Parliament by MoS External Affairs, Mr E Ahamed, in November 2012.
Will Mr Gandhi explain to the people of this country why the Congress remains silent on these issues? He should explain how the Congress leaders built personal rapport with the leaders of these countries despite them being an aggressor? He must explain why the Congress signed an MoU with Chinese Communist Party for cooperation and better understanding We have numerous examples where Congress leaders have demonstrated their dubious design to befriend Pakistani establishment with a desire to throw the Modi government out.
The Government of India has compulsions of protocol to entertain leaders of foreign countries even if the country is hostile. But a political party in the country has no such compulsions. The MoU signed between the Congress and the Chinese smacks of some hidden agenda. How can Mr Gandhi claim that he is not doing the bidding of the Chinese?
Why would he ask such questions to the government without any basis? The army’s statement should be the last statement. The Prime Minister’s statement should be considered final. What is Mr Rahul Gandhi trying to do?
Mr Gandhi should introspect why he has got increasingly isolated in the polity of the country. The same all-party meeting where Prime Minister Narendra Modi briefed leaders of leading political parties, had leaders of the allies of the Congress too. These leaders lauded the briefing by the Prime Minister and expressed confidence in him. Does Mr Rahul Gandhi have a different agenda hidden from everyone? Calling the Prime Minister names or trying to show him in bad light only demonstrates the frustrations of Mr Gandhi for his inability to increase his political stocks in India.
So far as the Modi government is concerned, it is determined to secure its borders and make the country strong. The UPA government decided to build border roads but it failed to accomplish the task. Mr Narendra Modi has brought operational efficiency by giving faster environmental clearance, by giving more financial independence to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and by increasing the pace of infrastructure development in the border areas. Now the task of building motorable roads that can carry heavy armoured vehicles is almost complete.
China obviously does not want this since this would increase Indian army manoeuvrability and lead to better border patrolling. This would neutralise the advantage the Chinese have. India is not ready to back down. China after constructing border roads and war infrastructure along the borders cannot object to the same being built by India. Has Mr Rahul Gandhi spoken on this?
We have a Prime Minister who can manage optics of being very friendly when it comes to hosting the Chinese, but he is equally determined to equip the forces with the latest weapons and technology to deal with any crisis. Unlike Jawaharlal Nehru he is not going to be duped into over-confidence due to the call of Hindi-Chini bhai bhai . He knows that India has to become strong to get respect on the borders even if we are not the aggressor. Mocking the Prime Minister for the first and not recognising him for the second is childish or rather naive.
When Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted in Parliament about the need to get PoK vacated and also that Akshai Chin is an integral part of India, he demonstrated the strong will of the Indian state not to compromise with the land captured by China through illegal means. Mr Gandhi has not spoken a word against Pakistan for allowing China to construct CPEC through PoK. How can Pakistan give away territory that does not belong to it?
Mr Rahul Gandhi’s statements have also intended to demoralise our defence forces. Or, maybe, he is himself scared since the UPA government did not have a good record of facing Chinese eyeball to eyeball. For the benefit of Mr Rahul Gandhi it is necessary to know that Indian army is one of the most professional armies in the world. They are a battle-baked ferocious force and not like the conscripts that man the army of the adversary. Brave soldiers of the Bihar regiment have shown their mettle to the Chinese during the recent Galwan valley stand-off. The same was shown by our soldiers even in the Doklam standoff in 2017.
At a time when our soldiers are standing on the borders to ward off the evil, it is sad that Mr Gandhi will ask questions from the government based on motivated narratives. Those who wonder how Indian moles helped foreign invaders in the past have to just analyse present developments with an open mind. But nothing to worry: India would win despite these Mir Jafars and Jaichands. We are more guarded and there is no room for complacency.
(The author is national panel spokesperson of BJP and an author. Views expressed are personal.)