Good relations with China not at cost of security, dignity: Congress

Taking potshots at the Narendra Modi government over its talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Congress on Friday said good relations are important but not at the cost of "security and dignity".

New Delhi: Taking potshots at the Narendra Modi government over its talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Congress on Friday said good relations are important but not at the cost of "security and dignity".

Congress spokesperson Salman Khurshid also questioned why the NDA government 'hid' Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju during the visit saying it was the best opportunity to show to the Chinese that a minister from Arunachal Pradesh, over which China claims authority, holds such an important portfolio.

The former external affairs minister said Modi should have raised the issue of Arunachal and dams on Brahmaputra more seriously.

"We should not be self conscious with China when it comes to our northeast and our citizens there. Our belief is that on this occasion, we should not have been afraid about Arunachal Pradesh. We should have said things clearly whether it was the visa policy or anything else," he said.

"This was an opportunity when Minister of State for Home Affairs should have been brought to the front to show that we are proud that a minister from Arunachal is also at such an important role. Was it necessary to hide him or keep him behind? I think these questions should be answered," he said.

Attacking the government for trying to "event manage" the visit, Khurshid said it is being projected as "enormously successful" but the fact was different.

"We want good relations but the important thing is our security and our dignity. Self respect is very important to us," he said at the weekly press conference.

According to Khurshid, he was saying this now only because the "Chinese President has left". Incidentally, a Congress delegation led by Sonia Gandhi today met Xi and discussed a number of issues including the border problems.

He said it was understandable that "big visits are event managed but it should not take away the substance" of what one need to do with the visit.

"The sad thing is that this visit is being projected as enormously successful even while the visit was taking place, there were unfortunate incidents of intrusion into Indian territories," he said.

Khurshid said that it is for the first time that there were not only uniformed troops of China but also either civilians or people from the military dressed as civilians trying to establish their claim over Indian territory.

He said every time the UPA government tried to respond to such an issue by saying that one must show patience, care and sensibilities, it was always decried.

"We were always run down by the BJP... We would like to know have they reviewed their position, have they realised their position was wrong, have they realised they were shortsighted? Have they realised that it was myopic or are they willing to admit that they behaved differently in opposition," he asked.

Queried if Congress was happy with the way Modi took up the border issue with China, he said, "I felt that Prime Minister took it much more strongly when he spoke to us, meaning the people of India, than it seems when he spoke to the Chinese President."

Khurshid admitted that he knows it is not an easy subject if one is trying to be courteous and friendly to someone who is visiting at their invitation.

"It is not an easy thing but then it is not an easy thing to be Prime Minister. And therefore one does expect much higher standard of clarity from Prime Minister. I think that message has not gone very clear," he said.

Khurshid underlined that there is too much tom-tomming about inflow of funds and investment.

"We are not investment company. This is a country that has history, character and substance. I think we should not appear that we have one point agenda of finding money across the world," he said adding that if the economy is good, money will come.

Taking a dig at the government, Khurshid said, "I think there was an expectation created, not by us but by the government that a huge figure was going to be invested but less than one fourth materialised which I do believe is a tale by itself."

He said that while China's response has always been positive in principle when it comes to border issues, the concern was the gap in fulfilment of that aspiration.

He said under the UPA government, there were 17 rounds of discussion between the countries' special representatives for border talks, but it seemed that the process is not moving forward now.

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