The Shiv Sena on Monday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his just-concluded China visit, claiming it was a “casual” tour during which he avoided taking up crucial bilateral issues with President Xi Jinping in view of the next year’s general elections. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party claimed that Modi was trying to resolve pending issues with Beijing through “Panchsheel”, five principles of peaceful coexistence propounded by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru of whom he had been critical.
The Sena sought to know what the RSS, the ideological mentor of Modi’s party the BJP, had to say about this stance. It said Modi had ‘chai pe charcha’ with the Chinese president during which he avoided discussing controversial issues in view of the general elections due next year.
Issues related to Doklam, border incursions and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), among others, were not taken up with the Chinese side, it said in an editorial in the party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’. “Pandit Nehru’s friendship with China had backfired. Modi has lever lost an opportunity to criticise Nehru. But it seems the current prime minister is trying to solve the issues with China through Nehru’s Panchsheel,” the Sena claimed.
“Modi is backing Panchsheel but the thoughts behind it belonged to Nehru. Like Nehru, Modi is also convinced about ‘no to war, yes to peace’ (yuddha nako, buddha hawa) approach (to resolve pending issues),” it maintained. The Sena said the Ministry of External Affairs had maintained that Modi’s two-day visit to China last week was without any agenda.
“It means the country’s prime minister has got no work and hence, he casually toured China,” the Marathi daily claimed. The publication said China continued to support Pakistan which had been sponsoring terrorism in India. “China is a major supporter of Pakistan. Pakistan can create troubles for India only because of the active support it gets from China.
“The world has isolated Pakistan because of its soft-pedalling on terrorism. Still, China has continued to provide aid to Pakistan with an aim to destabilise India,” it said. The editorial also mentioned about Beijing’s growing footprints in India’s neighborhood.
The Sena said Nepal, once the world’s only Hindu nation, had been “almost taken over” by China and Kathmandu had started considering India as an adversary. The Communist giant was also trying to spread its influence” in India’s neighboring countries such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, it said.
“It has also augmented its forces near the border of Bhutan at Doklam (the site of a tense stand-off last year) and increased India’s headache, but none of these issues were discussed between the two countries,” the Sena said. The Doklam issue was not taken up to avoid any uncomfortable moment during the “informal summit” held in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, it said.
The Sena said China has also undertaken construction near the border of Arunachal Pradesh. The site was used for incursion by Chinese soldiers into the north-eastern state, it said. “This issue was also not discussed between Modi and Xi,” rued the party.
The CPEC passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government had opposed it. But such a serious issue was also not discussed during talks between the two leaders, it said. “The foreign secretary maintained both the leaders avoided discussion on any controversial issue. Then what did Modi do in China?” the BJP’s bickering ally asked.
Both the leaders agreed that terrorism was a major threat to world peace, “although not a single word on Pakistan’s great work of nurturing terrorists was mentioned in the meeting,” the editorial said. “How can you hit out on terror without any reference to Pakistan?” it asked.
“It seems Modi’s stand is to maintain peace across the border as general elections are just one year away. He does not want headache of unrest over the border during an election period,” the party said.
The Sena is part of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and also in Maharashtra, but it often criticises their programmes and policies.