Yesterday, it appeared for a brief period of time that tensions were going to mount between New Delhi and Colombo after a report appeared in a national daily, The Hindu, claiming that Sri Lanka’s president Sirisena had alleged that R&AW was plotting his assassination. This was enough to create tensions between the two countries and disrupt their friendly relations. Hours later, the Sri Lankan government denied having made any such allegations and made it clear that these were purely rumours without any authenticity. President Sirisena had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Modi, wherein he categorically denied having made any such allegations. He made it clear that these media reports were an attempt to sabotage the friendly and cordial relationship between the two countries. From this, it becomes clear that there is some entity which is trying to disrupt Modi government’s foreign policy initiatives.
This is not for the first time that there has been an attempt to derail the Foriegn Policy of Modi government. Very often, the opposition parties, predominantly the Congress, have been the ones to be caught trying to intervene in the government’s foreign policy. The attempts by Congress to wrongfully influence the foreign policy of the government first came to light when the then Congress vice-president secretly met the Chinese envoy, Luo Zhaohui. He met the Chinese envoy at a time when the tensions between the two countries were rising over the Doklam standoff. Both the countries were refusing to back down from the area which holds great strategic importance. It is interesting to note that the Congress had probably been caught by surprise when this meeting was reported by media outlets. The Congress first denied the reports and then mysteriously accepted them. This was enough to give a hint that something was fishy especially because the meeting took place at a very sensitive and critical juncture.
What makes these attempts resemble a concerted effort by the opposition to derail the foreign policy of Modi government, is the unconditional love shown by Mani Shankar Aiyar towards Pakistan. The senior Congress leader went to the extent of requesting Pakistani news channel that the Pakistani establishment should help the Congress in bringing down the Modi government. Earlier this year, he went further and tried defaming India on his visit to India’s terrorist neighbour Pakistan over the issue of Jinnah’s portrait in Aligarh Muslim University, a central Indian university. He had stated that Hindu goons removed the portrait of the quaid-e-azam (Jinnah is referred to as quaid-e-azam in Pakistan as a mark of respect).
Most recently, it is the cricketer turned politician Sidhu who has been trying to derail Modi government’s foreign policy. He not only attended Imran Khan’s oath taking ceremony but also went on to hug chief of Pakistani Army, General Bajwa and sat beside the PoK Prime Minister during the ceremony. While the policy of the Modi government is not to engage in talks at any level with Pakistan, the way Sidhu embraced the newly appointed Pakistani prime minister and even their Army chief and showed deference to the PoK PM which India does recognise as a sovereign, sent wrong signals about India’s stand on Pakistan. Thereafter, he again made a distasteful statement indicating his love for the culture of Pakistan and indifference towards South India. It does not send a very good message if the political spectrum does not speak in one voice and tries to take a stand different from the one taken officially by the government, especially on sensitive issues like dealing with a hostile neighbour in the form of Pakistan.
During the 84th plenary session of the Congress, the Palestinian president had sent a suspicious note which persuaded the Congress and its leadership to use its “political influence” in order to advise the government of India to participate in any planned international multi-party peace conference. It went on to state that such participation would be a contribution to the resolution of Israel-Palestinian conflict. This suggested an active concert between the Palestinian leadership and the Congress Party with regard to long standing border dispute between Israel and Palestine. However, there was clear overwriting on the note, changing the sentence to the effect that the Congress Party may, with the government of the day, participate in such a conference. This indicated that Palestine banked on the Congress to influence the government into bringing about a resolution on the border issue which might be favourable for Palestine.
In a similar fashion, during the Kerala floods the opposition created unnecessary controversy regarding foreign aid while India’s stance was clear on the issue. Without the government’s authorization, a prominent Congressman went on a world tour to ask for ‘help’ even though it has been India’s policy not to accept foreign aid during calamity.
It is clear that these are not isolated incidents of transgression by individual politicians but a concerted effort to derail the foreign policy initiatives of the Modi government. It is clear that the opposition can go to any extent in order to bring down the Modi government and now it seems that it has started interfering with and attempting to derail its foreign policy in order to malign the government and replace it in 2019. The opposition has dragged the political battle to a new low and national interest has taken the back burner for those who are indulging in such distasteful activities.
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