Press Trust of india

Rahul questions Modi's patriotism, asks why he keeps silent on China

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Pledges to restore special status to northeastern states

Itanagar, Mar 19 :  With fervent nationalism becoming the flavour of the election season, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's patriotic credentials and accused him of not raising the issue of India's "territorial integrity" during his meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The Congress leader claimed the prime minister "did not utter a word" on the boundary question when he hosted President Xi in his home state Gujarat a few years ago.

"During Xi Jinping's meeting with Modi in India, the prime minister was seen sitting with him over a cup of tea without uttering a single word on the boundary dispute. Even during his (Modi) visit to China he never took up the Doklam issue," Gandhi told an election rally in the Arunachal Pradesh capital.

India and China are locked in a protracted dispute over Arunachal Pradesh, often resulting in incursions by their respective armies into each other's territory.

In June 2017, a military standoff occurred between China and India as Chinese soldiers attempted to extend a road on the Doklam plateau and Indian troops moved in to prevent them. India had claimed to have acted on behalf of Bhutan with which it has a 'special relationship'.

"How can he (Modi) claim himself a Desh Bhakt (patriot) when he did not even take up the issue of the country’s territorial integrity? The country doesn’t want such patriots.

"The people of Arunachal Pradesh are more patriotic as they are zealously protecting the country’s territory," he told the rally.

Gandhi said Modi had visited China "without an agenda" on the vexed boundary question.

The Congress president had recently called Modi "weak and scared" of the Chinese president, after Beijing once again blocked a UN resolution to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar a “global terrorist”.

"Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India. NoMos China diplomacy: 1. Swing with Xi in Gujarat. 2. Hug Xi in Delhi. 3. Bow to Xi in China," Gandhi had said on Twitter.

The Congress president repeated his allegation that Modi continued to shoot for a documentary in the Corbett National Park when the nation was mourning the killing of 40 CRPF personnel in a suicide bombing in Kashmir's Pulwama.

Referring to the recent killing of three people in police firing during the agitation against permanent residency certificates to some sections in Arunachal Pradesh, he said," Was there any necessity for police firing? The issue could have been resolved in other ways without harsh action."

He alleged that it was the BJP's "nature" to suppress those who dare to stand up against it.

Gandhi dubbed the prime minister as an "arrogant" leader who claimed India awoke only after the advent of his government in 2014. "He has no knowledge of the country's strengths," the Congress leader said.

Gandhi also said the Congress will restore special category status to all states of the Northeast if voted to power at the Centre.

He also accused the BJP of trying to destroy the social and cultural ethos of the people of the Northeast by imposing on them the "RSS ideology".

Addressing a Congress rally in the run up to the Lok Sabha and Arunachal Pradesh assembly polls to be held simultaneously, Gandhi sought to appeal to the regional sentiments, saying his party will never "attack the language, culture, customs and traditions" of the Northeastern states.

"The people of the region are close to Congress's heart. The Congress has always worked for the development of the region. My party, if voted to power, will restore the special category status to Arunachal Pradesh and other states in the Northeast," he told a well attended rally at Indira Park here.

The Congress party's last standing citadel in the Northeast fell in November last year when BJP ally Mizo National Front stormed to power in the state.

There are some states which require special status because of their "unique problems and difficulties" such as connectivity, terrain and infrastructure, he said. Gandhi said these states had special status when the Congress helmed the central government.

The Congress president called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP's slogan of "Congress mukt Bharat" an expression of "hatred" towards the main opposition party.

"However, the Congress being a secular party would not even want the BJP finished," he said.

Accusing the BJP-led central government of imposing "RSS ideology" across the country, including the Northeast, Gandhi alleged ineligible people with Sangh family background were appointed as vice chancellors.

Touching upon yest another sensitive issue of Citizenship (amendmdent) Bill, Gandhi said his party will never allow it to be passed by Parliament as it is detrimental to the people of the region.

"We will not allow the suppression of the people of the Northeast," he asserted.

"After the NDA government came to power, the Planning Commission, which was set up for meticulously planned development, keeping in mind the special requirements of the region, was replaced with Niti Aayog.

"Earlier, all schemes for northeastern states were planned in due consultation with the respective state governments, but now all planning is done in Delhi," he added.

Noting that Arunachal Pradesh has a special place in the Congress's scheme of things, Gandhi said his party wants a "bonding of hearts" with the people of the northeastern state.

The Congress leader promised his party will give a fresh impetus to infrastructure development in Arunachal Pradesh if voted to power.

He also pledged to revive the Special Plan Assistance (SPA) scheme and North East Industrial Policy for giving a boost to the region's economy.

Reaffirming the Congress's commitment to providing 'Guaranteed Minimum Income' to every citizen, Gandhi claimed that instead of giving loans to the unemployed youth of Arunachal Pradesh, the Modi government wrote off the Rs 3.5 lakh crore debt of a handful of industrialists.

He dubbed as a "blantant lie" the BJP's promise of creating two crore jobs a year. "Instead, there are more than two crore unemployed youth now," he said.

Polling for the 60-member Arunachal Pradesh assembly and the state's two Lok Sabha seats will be held on April 11.

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