Recent intemperate and ill-considered statements of Rahul Gandhi (RG), de facto chief of the Congress party, on the military stand-off on the sensitive India-China border issue, signal that it’s high time RG retires from politics in which he has sporadic interest. Following a statement made in Parliament on February 10 by Union defence minister Rajnath Singh that India and China have reached an agreement on military disengagement in the North and South bank of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh, RG accused the BJP and prime minister Narendra Modi of ceding Indian territory to China. Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Rahul opined that the prime minister is a “coward who cannot stand up to the Chinese” and that he was guilty of betraying the “sacrifices of our Army”.
Anyone with a modicum of commonsense knows that the India-China border dispute requires sensitive handling and multi-party unanimity. The last thing India needs at this juncture when it is limping out of the worst viral pandemic and economic recession of the past century with the economy set to contract by 8 percent in fiscal 2020-21, is for the simmering Sino-Indian border dispute to escalate into a full-fledged war with a belligerent neighbouring country whose GDP of $15 trillion is five multiples larger, and army twice the size of ours.
Moreover, RG should be aware that a major share of the blame for failure to negotiate the border dispute with China for over half a century has to be laid at the door of the Congress and Nehru-Indira dynasty which ruled India for almost 60 years after independence in 1947. Even after the crushing defeat of the Indian Army in the Sino-India border war of 1962, neither RG’s grandmother Indira Gandhi who served three terms as prime minister, nor his father Rajiv (one-term) and his mother Sonia as de facto prime minister (2004-14), accorded importance to settling the festering India-China border issue.
In the circumstances, Rahul’s reckless outbursts criticising prime minister Modi for not displaying belligerence after the Pangong Lake skirmish last summer in which 20 Indian jawans were clubbed to death and the Indian and Chinese troops are in eye-ball to eye-ball standoff on several points along the 4,800 km border, is the height of immature irresponsibility, and indicates that he needs to abdicate his position as de facto president of the Congress party.
Clearly, the national interest demands that the Sino-India border stretching from Aksai Chin in the North-west to Arunachal in the North-east needs to be patiently and painstakingly demarcated and redrawn in a spirit of give-and-take, and settled once and for all. This is an issue that requires the unanimous support of all political parties, especially the two national parties. Playing electoral politics in this situation which could plunge this under-weight nation into an armed conflict with the world’s second most militarily powerful country, is irresponsibility of the worst sort.