As Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a roadshow with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the Congress on Wednesday said such events with leaders of other countries were no substitute for diplomacy. It said the fact that the visiting Japanese Prime Minister’s official engagements are all in Assembly election-bound Gujarat does raise a question that a state visit is actually being used for political purposes. Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said while the party would not like to “transgress propriety by commenting on a state visit”, it is strange that the “Prime Minister of a country as important as Japan, which is almost India’s strategic partner in many respects, is strangely not even being hosted in Delhi”. “And with an election in Gujarat round the corner, it does raise a question that a state visit is actually being used for political purposes. Because the manner in which it is structured is rather awkward, to say the least,” he told reporters at the AICC briefing.
Attacking the government on the foreign policy front, he said the kind of criticism India has been subjected to by the United Nations Human Rights Council is absolutely unprecedented. He recalled New Delhi had come under a lot of attack from the UN human rights body in the first half of the 1990s.
“Even then India did not have to face such ignominy and this international humiliation. You can rail against the UNHRC, you can call them all kinds of names but the fact remains that it is an inter-governmental body,” Tewari said.
“India is a member of the UNHRC and (what it has said on) this government’s track record on intolerance, on the killing of journalists, on the manner in which dissent is stifled, on the manner in which environmental activists are persecuted and about the stand the government had taken on Rohingyas which is totally contrary to India’s traditions…. this kind of ignominy India has never faced,” he said.
Referring to the BJP’s criticism of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, he said: “You can be critical about Gandhi, but I think the time has come that the Prime Minister needs to introspect that merely speeches and roadshows with leaders of other countries does not substitute for diplomacy.”