Rahul Gandhi’s Chinese romance
by G B Reddy on 15 Jul 2017 8 Comments
Analysts, academics, and the intelligentsia must apply their minds to a critical issue: did Congress Party vice president Rahul Gandhi commit treason by surreptitiously meeting the Chinese ambassador to India? Or is this just another faux pas by the immature politician, another Bhatta-Parsaul (2011) where he mistook a mound of cow dung for a mass grave?


The Congress created needless confusion over whether Gandhi met Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui on 7 July 2017. Initially, the party spokesman, Randeep Singh Surjewala, denied the meeting and slammed the media for posting “fake news”. Furthermore, he blamed the Ministry of External Affairs posting such news.


Then, as the Chinese embassy pulled down its own news bulletin from its official website and deleted its Twitter (Weibo) post, Rahul Gandhi did a volte face and confirmed, on Monday, 10 July, that he had, in fact, met with the Chinese envoy to India, and sniggered, “It is my job to be informed on critical issues.”


With this incredible about turn, Rahul Gandhi demanded an explanation from the central government as to “why three senior Indian ministers, including Prakash Javadekar, visited China while the border tensions with the neighbouring country had escalated.” Even the otherwise fawning media treated the question with the contempt it deserved, as the said ministers were attending important bilateral meetings.


Why was Rahul Gandhi so cagey about meeting the Chinese ambassador and what was the need for secrecy at all? As a result, Congress is on the back foot, unable to give credible reasons for the foolish manoeuvre.


Given the fact that former minister and close family friend, Mani Shankar Aiyar, has been captured on camera telling Pakistani television anchors that Pakistan should “remove’ Narendra Modi from office, it is imperative that Rahul Gandhi disclose what he discussed with the Chinese envoy, especially the portions that he desperately wanted to keep secret? This is all the more relevant in the light of the fact that the Chinese embassy, doubtless after consultations with Beijing, obliged him by pulling the official announcement of the meeting down from its website.


It defies logic that Rahul Gandhi should meet the Chinese Ambassador to know the “reasons for the current armed forces face-off or confrontation in Doka La (tri-junction of Sikkim-Bhutan-China). There is abundant material available in the public domain. Moreover, as a Member of Parliament, he could have asked the External Affairs Minister to arrange a detailed briefing for him and his party.


Clearly, there is more to the meeting than meets the eye.


History has innumerable accounts of high treason, intrigue and treachery, that is, political backstabbing for the sake of power or booty. The Athenian, Hippias, conspired to work with the Persians to lead them ashore during the first Persian invasion of Athens in the pivotal Battle of Marathon.


Ephialtes, son of Eurydemus of Malis, betrayed the Spartan king Leonidas and his homeland by showing the Persian army a secret trail to bypass the Greek forces at the Thermopylae Pass, which helped Persia to win the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Herodotus records that the 4,200-strong Greek and allied forces hoped the block the much larger Persian army at Thermopylae. But knowledge of the trail helped the Persians to outflank the Greeks. The Spartans and Thespians fought to death; the Thebans joined the Persians. But Ephialtes was left unrewarded for his treachery as the Persians were defeated at the Battle of Salamis.


Other traitors include Alcibiades, son of Cleinias of Athens; Dona Marina of Mexico; Robert Kett of U.K.; Japan’s Samurai general, Akechi Jubei Minamoto-no-Mitsuhide; the fifth Earl of Nithsdale of UK, William Maxwell; and the Fascist politician of France, Marcel Bucard, to name a few. America has convicted some high profile traitors. General Benedict Arnold’s name has become a synonym for a traitor.


Indian history has its own pantheon. Most famous is Mir Jafar who helped Robert Clive win the famous battle of Plassey (1757) that paved the way for British rule in India for nearly two centuries. He is known as Gaddar-e-Hind.


General Labh Singh fled from the battlefield at a critical time during the first Anglo-Sikh war (1845), denying victory to the Sikh Army. Labh Singh had agreed to betray the Sikhs to the English in return for right to rule Kashmir as maharajah. The East India Company, however, sold the kingdom to Gulab Singh.


Further back in time, the eldest son of Shivaji joined the Muslim force against his father. Raja Jai Singh aligned with the Moghuls and won a string of victories for them; he also fought against Shivaji.


In the first recorded foreign invasion of India, the king of Taxila aligned with Alexander again Porus (326 B.C.). But Alexander’s army was badly mauled and retreated from India immediately after this encounter.


Treason is generally defined as an act that helps a foreign country attack, make war, overthrow, or otherwise injure the traitor’s own country.


This is a strong word to use against anybody. But in the current context of the prolonged stand-off with Chinese troops at the sensitive Doka La, and given the vicious political environment that has been fostered by political parties that lost the general elections of 2014, there is legitimate uneasiness over the Amethi MP meeting the Chinese envoy and denying the meeting.


The devil is in the denial. And the Chinese attempt to support the subterfuge.


So, did Rahul Gandhi attempt to use the Doka La impasse to wage some kind of political war against the Narendra Modi government? What did he expect to gain from this episode?


As of now, the Congress needs to come clean on the details of the meeting. Did it take place in the embassy or did Gandhi call the envoy to his residence? Did he go alone, or was he accompanied by any of the persons he later claimed to have also met regarding Doka La, viz., former National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, the Bhutan ambassador to India (highly unlikely), and other leaders from the northeast. On whose advice did the meeting take place and when was the appointment with the envoy sought?


The questions are important. Given the important positions he has held in the Indian government, it would be in the fitness of things if Shiv Shankar Menon began to answer some of these questions. Menon would be aware that he is viewed as a ‘China dove’. He should set the record straight.


Rahul Gandhi can take his next foreign holiday. He has just taken Congress credibility a few notches lower.  

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