Modi Govt to blame for Covid “mismanagement”, fuel price hike, border crisis: Sonia Gandhi

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Lambasting the Modi government over the border standoff with China, the Congress on Tuesday asked as to what steps it was taking to ensure that the earlier status is restored in eastern Ladakh as party chief Sonia Gandhi blamed the Centre”s “mismanagement” and “wrong policies” for the crisis.

Deliberating on the issue during a four-hour virtual meeting, the Congress Working Committee said the party has consistently raised the issue but the only replies by the government and its allies were in the form of “denials, disinformation and diversions”.

It urged the prime minister to uphold his promise that the sacrifice of Indian soldiers would not go in vain.

At the meeting, Rahul Gandhi, who has been firing salvos daily at the Modi government over the Ladakh situation, said there has been a “complete and total failure” of foreign policy and accused the prime minister of “destroying” India”s position and “betraying our Army” by accepting China”s stand that it did not occupy any Indian land.

Adopting a resolution that expressed grave concern on the issue and posed several questions to the government, the CWC noted that the PM”s statement denying Chinese intrusion has had far reaching implications.

“The Prime Minister cannot allow his words to be used by the Chinese as a vindication of their position, when it is clear that the brazen transgressions into our territory were committed by them and our armed forces were, and are, steadfastly defending our territorial integrity,” the resolution said echoing former prime minister Manmohan Singh”s remarks made on Monday that the PM should be “mindful of his words”.

The crisis on the border, if not tackled firmly, can lead to a serious situation, Manmohan Singh said at the meeting of the Congress” apex body on the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — the 3,500-km de-facto border with China.

The CWC in its resolution observed with grave concern reports of brazen Chinese transgressions into the Galwan Valley, the Pangong Tso Lake Area and the Hot Springs.

“Let no one, including the Chinese, be in doubt that these are inalienable and integral parts of India”s sovereign territory,” it said.

The CWC asserted that India”s territorial integrity is non-negotiable and noted that it remains firmly committed for building a strong national consensus to defend India”s national interest and defeat the nefarious designs and agenda of China.

“What steps will the government take to ensure restoration of status quo ante,” the apex body of the Congress asked in its resolution.

“For China to make audacious claims over our territory, including the Galwan Valley, by resorting to unilateral and unprovoked acts of transgression and incursion, simply cannot be tolerated or accepted,” it said.

The central government is duty bound to protect every inch of India”s territory and repulse every intrusion firmly and decisively, it said.

The CWC also passed two other resolutions criticising the government over its handling the COVOD-19 crisis and the raising petrol prices for 17 consecutive days.

Targeting the Modi government, Rahul Gandhi said India”s relations with once friendly neighbours lie in tatters.

“The established institutional structure of diplomacy has been demolished by the PM. Our relations with our once friendly neighbours lie in tatters. Our time tested relationship with our traditional allies has been interrupted,” he said.

“China has brazenly occupied our territory. The PM has destroyed our position and betrayed our army by accepting their position that they occupied no Indian land. “The Chinese can”t be permitted to get away with this unacceptable usurpation of our land,” he said.

Noting the Congress has consistently raised the issue, the CWC said the only replies by the government and its allies were in the form of denials, disinformation and diversions.

“The facts emerging now are in direct contrast to the narrative that the government is seeking to propagate to the people, it said.

Chairing the meeting which also discussed the situation due to coronavirus, Sonia Gandhi said that the “mismanagement” of the COVID-19 pandemic will be recorded as one of “most disastrous failures” of the Narendra Modi government.

She also hit out at the government for “mercilessly” raising petrol and diesel prices for 17 consecutive days, even when global prices of crude oil were falling.

“Misfortunes do not come singly. India has been hit by a terrible economic crisis, a pandemic of huge proportions and, now, by a full-blown crisis on the borders with China.

Much of each crisis is attributable to the mismanagement of the BJP-led NDA government and the wrong policies pursued by it,” she said.

On the LAC standoff, Gandhi said, “The future is yet to unfold but we hope that mature diplomacy and decisive leadership will inform the government”s actions in protecting our territorial integrity.”

“Undeniable fact is that since April-May, 2020 till date, Chinese troops have committed brazen transgressions into our territory in Pangong Tso area and the Galwan Valley, Ladakh. True to its character, the government is in denial,” she said.

Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a six-week standoff in several areas of eastern Ladakh.

The ties between the two countries came under severe strain after Chinese military killed 20 Indian Army personnel and injured around 76 in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15.

Sonia Gandhi said though the Congress party was the first to offer its total support to the armed forces and the government, there is “a growing feeling among the people that the government has gravely mishandled the situation”.

“We urge the government that peace, calm and the restoration of the status quo ante along the LAC be the only guiding principles in our national interest. We will continue to closely watch the situation,” she said.

On the COVID-19 pandemic, Gandhi said, “The grave deficiencies in the health infrastructure have been exposed. The promised ”peak” is nowhere in sight.

The Centre has passed the buck to the state governments, but given them zero extra finances. Actually, the people have been left to protect themselves as best as possible.”

Despite assurances of “the prime minister, who centralised all authority in his hands, the pandemic continues to rage”, she said.

Endorsing Gandhi”s remarks, Manmohan Singh said, “The pandemic is not being tackled with the courage and magnitude and effort needed to tackle the crisis. Another instance is the crisis on the border, which if not tackled firmly, can lead to a serious situation.”

As the coronavirus-induced lockdown halted economic activities, the Congress president said the economic crisis has only become worse. “The Modi government refuses to listen to good advice.”

“I am afraid there will be high unemployment, falling incomes and wages, and lower investment. Recovery is likely to take a long time, and that too only if the government corrects its course and adopts sound economic policies,” she said.

The meeting of the CWC, the highest decision-making body of the Congress, started by paying homage to Col B Santosh Babu and the brave soldiers who laid down their lives in the clash with Chinese troops.

At the meeting, Former defence minister A K Antony briefed on the border situation and Leader of Opposition and former health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on the COVID pandemic.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram briefed the CWC on the economy and the impending recession. PTI

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