The Congress Party’s former president should have been more cautious before he made his ‘Surender Modi’ tweet. It did not take the Prime Minister long to hit back hard. Last week his government revealed that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation accepted largesse from China in 2005 after which Sonia Gandhi’s government started showing unusual camaraderie with our old enemy. Concessions were made in matters of trade that benefited China more than India and the Gandhi family appeared to develop a close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.
The disclosure that the Dynasty’s personal foundation received $300,000 from the Chinese government in 2005 is truly damning. But, personally, I was not surprised. This is because when Sonia Gandhi was India’s unofficial prime minister and Rahul her designated heir, I noticed that they took a keen interest in closing down major projects that would have benefited India enormously but that China clearly did not like. One example will suffice.
If Vedanta had not been stopped from refining bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills, because of the personal intervention of Rahul Gandhi, Odisha may today have been the world’s centre for aluminium production. Anil Agarwal, who invested more than Rs 11,000 crore in the Lanjigarh refinery, has said more than once that the international price of aluminium would have come down by half if the refinery had been allowed to mine bauxite in the surrounding hills. And, Jayanthi Natarajan has publicly admitted that she was ordered to close this project, and other major projects, by Sonia Gandhi.
China knows that India will only match its might if it succeeds in building an economy as powerful. In the decade before Sonia became India’s de facto leader, we were beginning to get there. The Indian economy was booming. This is because Atal Bihari Vajpayee continued the process initiated by P V Narasimha Rao to dismantle the awful licence raj. So, our private sector companies began to compete with the best. It was around 2006, as I remember, that the dead hand of the government reappeared and manifested itself through the Ministry of Environment. People like me supported Modi in the hope that he would unshackle the economy and bring back real growth. Sadly, he has turned out to be a socialist and a central planner and the economy was already in serious trouble before the Chinese virus hit.
It is my considered opinion that a powerful economy is our greatest weapon against both our main enemies. China is ruled by a totalitarian dictator who knows this well. So he got the Dynasty to submit and then lulled Modi into a false sense of security by agreeing to all those picturesque but futile summits. At that first one, even as he shared a Gujarati swing with Modi, Chinese troops entered Ladakh for what then seemed like a picnic. They now come with much more ugly intentions. It is unfortunate that our response has so far been surprise and not strategy.
Where are the men who are in charge of national security? Where is the National Security Advisor? He has not been seen since he trotted off to the Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters in Delhi in the early days of the pandemic. That should have been the job of the city’s police chief. What is happening now is his. Where is the general who became our first Chief of Defence Staff? He has not been seen in a very long while. In this time of open hostilities with China it should be his job to brief the country on what is happening. It should be the job of the NSA. Instead, all we have seen are BJP spokesmen whose job it is not to speak for the Government of India.
At the best of times these spokesmen are bad and they have been atrocious since the crisis began in Ladakh. They have behaved like childish, belligerent schoolboys. Whenever they have been cornered in some primetime debate they have resorted tediously to either invoking Jawaharlal Nehru’s China war or to accusing those asking questions of treason. This is a time of national crisis, they shriek, how dare you ask questions that could hurt the morale of ‘our bravehearts’.
Actually, it is because not enough questions have been asked about national security that not enough has been done to strengthen India’s defences. We did not ask enough questions after 26/11 so our cities remain as vulnerable to another jihadi attack as Mumbai was in 2008. We did not ask enough questions after the attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama so we do not know how the suicide bomber acquired RDX. He could not have been acting alone but we do not know the names of those who helped him. If it was Pakistan behind that attack then we should at least know if it was the work of the State or freelance jihadists.
In the Kashmir Valley we have asked so few questions since the abrogation of Article 370 that we now hear of jihadi attacks every other day. Were we not told that one of the reasons for Kashmir to come under direct rule from Delhi was to stop jihadi groups from continuing their horrible violence? If we cannot control attacks within our borders, what chance is there for us to be able to control attacks on our borders? Things have gone very wrong with national security for a very long while.
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