NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pointed dig at the erstwhile UPA Government, calling it “lethargic” and “indecisive” in Abu Dhabi, has left the Congress party fuming. It hit out saying that the PM has time and again portrayed the country in poor light on foreign soil by raking up domestic politics.
“In central Asia he called the country scam- tainted, in China he said that before his government came to power, Indians were ashamed of being from the country and now this. We did not want to make any negative comments when the PM is on foreign trip but he leaves us with no option,” R P N Singh, Congress spokesperson said, adding that he was lowering the dignity of the post he holds.
Earlier in the day, another Congress voice Meem Afzal said, “The Prime Minister should have maintained the dignity of the high office he holds. There is no problem if he targets previous governments when he is in the country. But he should have refrained from doing so on foreign soil.”
Afzal said that it was not proper for Modi to rake up domestic politics abroad despite repeated protests by the Opposition against similar remarks made by the PM earlier.
The Prime Minister, who is in the UAE, said, “I have got some problems in legacy. I cannot take only the good points and leave aside the problems. Some things were stalled due to the indecisiveness and lethargy of the previous governments. It is my priority to kick-start those things”.
Also, reacting to the projection of Modi visit to the UAE as the first Prime Ministerial visit in 34 years, R N P Singh said that when the country was formed in 1971 the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had visited it at that point.
“It’s a fruit of the diplomatic initiative taken then that maximum number of Indians are employed there, contributing to the largest (foreign) remittances,” he added.
The Congress sought to remind the current government that the vast growth in the trade turnover with the UAE, from $160 million to $60 billion, was mainly due to the efforts by the earlier governments, including the UPA.
“India receives $10 billion remittances annually from the 26 lakh NRIs in the UAE which invests $15 billion in the Gulf country”, he said.
Days ahead of the India-Pakistan NSA-level talks, Singh raised questions on the purpose of the exercise when the Line of Control has seen a series of skirmishes resulting in civilian and military deaths.
Citing the statements Narendra Modi had made as Gujarat Chief Minister when the UPA Government took initiatives to resume dialogue with Pakistan, Singh asked whether the talks being “held over the coffins of our jawans and civilian population” could serve any purpose.
The Opposition party, however, refused to clarify if it were urging the government to postpone or cancel the NSA-level talks.
“We’re only reminding the Prime Minister of his earlier position when he had advised us (the UPA) against carrying on with talks when there was no respite on the terror front,” Singh said.
Pointing to the cancellation of the Foreign Secretary-level talks by New Delhi last August over the Pakistan High Commissioner meeting Hurriyat leaders ahead of the talks, the Congress spokesperson said, “Is the current situation not far more serious? What is the purpose of holding the talks when people are dying every day and there was a terror attack in Punjab after (a gap of) 20 years?”
The NSA-level talks, scheduled to start here on August 23, have not been called off despite repeated provocation from across the border.