Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on farmers’ agitation in India were “uncalled for”, “disconnected with ground realities”, and “served merely to fan the flames”, said a group of former Indian ambassadors on Monday in a sharply worded open letter condemning what they called “vote bank politics in Canada”.
Interacting with the Sikh community last week on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Trudeau had said that the “situation is concerning, and we’re all very worried about family and friends.”
“Such blatant interference in India’s internal affairs to appease a section of the Liberal Party’s voter base is completely unacceptable and cannot but cast a long shadow on bilateral relations,” the former diplomats wrote.
Several farmers’ unions have been protesting on the boundaries of the national capital for more than two weeks now, demanding repeal of the new farm laws. They also want a new law to guarantee them minimum support price (MSP).
The letter, signed by at least 22 retired diplomats, including former Indian High Commissioner to Canada Vishnu Prakash, underlined that Trudeau’s support to Indian farmers’ demand for MSP contradicts the stance it took in the WTO, where Canada was one of the most strident critics of India’s MSP system.
The former diplomats said that Ottawa conveniently ignored that the Indian government has, in good faith, been holding talks at ministerial level with the representatives of agitating farmers. They wrote that while Canadian investment in India is well-positioned to scale up, “yet the fact remains that not unoften, bilateral political equations develop stress, due to the propensity of certain Canadian political parties and leaders to engage in vote bank politics.”
The letter also condemned Canada’s indifference towards separatist Khalistani elements who “carry out anti-India activities, from the safety of Canadian soil.” “They (Khalistanis) are also radicalising the Canadian youth with far-reaching consequences, which is being ignored at the altar of short-term political expediency,” the ex-diplomats wrote.
Khalistani elements in Canada control several prominent gurudwaras, which gives them access to substantial funds, some of which are allegedly diverted to electoral campaign of political parties, especially the Liberals, said the former diplomats.