Why experts look askance at Congress’ proposed ‘foreign policy’ in poll manifesto

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | April 06, 2024 IST

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New Delhi, April 6 : The Congress’ proposed foreign policy in its 48-page manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections has triggered a huge social media debate, with netizens, many of them diplomatic experts, comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘impressive’ stewardship of India’s foreign policy with the “poor” track-record of the erstwhile Congress-led regimes on different key global issues.

The stand on Gaza is one of the crucial points included in the Congress manifesto, evoking massive reactions from global affairs experts on social media.

As the grand old party says that it wants to “reverse the shift in India’s foreign policy” citing the Gaza strife as an example, many experts on X wondered “what that shift is".

Reacting to Congress’ point that it will restore India’s position on the Gaza conflict, they argued that “India has not changed its position on the two-state solution even under PM Modi".

“Yes, India has condemned Hamas terrorism. Does the Congress want to reverse this,” the experts asked taking a dig at the grand old party, reminding that PM Modi has zero tolerance for terrorism.

In fact, the Congress said in its manifesto, “There was a consensus on foreign policy since Independence. Unfortunately, in many areas, foreign policy under the BJP/NDA government has witnessed marked departures from this consensus, notably on the ongoing Gaza conflict. Congress pledges to restore India’s global reputation as a voice of peace and moderation in world affairs.”

What the Congress is referring to is PM Modi’s message on X on October 7, 2023, condemning the “terrorist attacks in Israel”, and expressing “solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour”.

The opposition, including the Congress, had said then that PM Modi did not mention India’s stand on the two-state solution, which has been its position on the issue for many decades.

But the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement soon after, reiterating India’s call for the creation of a sovereign Palestine state.

The MEA said that there was an “obligation” to uphold humanitarian principles. The ministry also clarified that India continues to abide by its “long-standing position” on the resumption of negotiations towards a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict.

PM Modi also spoke to the Palestinian leadership later and even got humanitarian aid dispatched for the war-hit people of Gaza. This was seen as a balanced approach towards the Gaza issue.

In the backdrop of all this, the experts are questioning Congress’ claim that “the Modi government has shifted” the stand vis-a-vis Gaza. Where is the shift, given all these details, they asked on X.

Social media is also flooded with views alleging that “the Nehruvian idealism cost India its self-interest in many domains such as UNSC seat, Kashmir issue to UN, appeasement of China and so on… not to mention the "slow economic growth”, adding that and no one in their right mind wants any of it back.

A diplomatic affairs expert said, “PM Modi’s foreign policy is based on realistic principles where he is increasing India’s comprehensive national power by leveraging relations with big powers as a part of multi-alignment. This is just what India needs in the 21st Century.”

Similarly, Congress’ promise to conclude the pending negotiations on trade has come to be ridiculed on social media, with some X users alleging that what the UPA government had done led to the loss of producers in India.

“Under the UPA, indiscriminate signing of trade agreements led to a loss for Indian producers,” they said.

Likewise, the experts are not impressed with Congress’ promise that it will work with other countries to end terrorism.

“This is nothing but a soft launch of talks with Pakistan,” said an expert.

Many also said that PM Modi’s policies have dealt sternly with the terrorists.

“This is a new India under PM Modi which believes in neutralising enemies inside their territory (Ghar mein ghus kar marte hai),” said a netizen.

“What could the UPA government under the Congress leadership do after the Mumbai attacks? It failed to get the Pakistan-based masterminds and handlers punished,” said another.

On Congress’ claim that “Modi has ruined India’s image”, experts said that it suggests that the grand old party is pedaling the narrative built by anti-India forces.

It means if Congress comes to power, it will enable unwanted and unnecessary interference from the human rights lobby which is seen at regular intervals today.

The Congress manifesto also says that when in power, the party will “adjust” its policy with China.

However, many on social media believe that PM Modi had to devote a lot of time correcting the UPA government’s policy of “giving China entry into the strategic economic sectors”.

The netizens also appreciated PM Modi’s 'extraordinary' efforts to build border infrastructure, which was “ignored by the previous regimes led by the Congress”.

The Congress also says that it will help Sri Lanka solve the Tamil issue. However, this move will not be good for India’s interest, feel experts, with many saying that doing so is fraught with the risk of bringing back the period of strained relations that had resulted from interference in internal affairs (Tamil-Sinhala issue in Sri Lanka) which cost India a Prime Minister's life.

Ther Congress has also expressed its desire to “engage with Pakistan”.

However, experts are of the view that the national consensus does not approve of any such engagement with Pakistan. (IANS)


 

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