Rahul Gandhi's there's not enough conversation refrain on Saturday found its latest target in the Indian Foreign Service, which the Congress leader alleged has become arrogant and does not listen. The comment drew a sharp and public rebuttal from the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
"I was talking to some bureaucrats from Europe and they were saying that the Indian foreign service has completely changed. They don't listen to anything; they are arrogant. Now, they are just telling us what orders they are getting. There is no conversation. You can't, you can't do that," alleged Rahul Gandhi at 'Ideas for India' conference in London.
Minister S Jaishankar, a former diplomat, countering the remarks, called it "defending national interest" and a sign of "confidence".
"Yes, the Indian Foreign Service has changed. Yes, they follow the orders of the Government. Yes, they counter the arguments of others. No, its not called Arrogance. It is called Confidence. And it is called defending National Interest," the Minister tweeted with a 19-second video clip of Rahul Gandhi's statement.
Yes, the Indian Foreign Service has changed.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) May 21, 2022
Yes, they follow the orders of the Government.
Yes, they counter the arguments of others.
No, its not called Arrogance.
It is called Confidence.
And it is called defending National Interest. pic.twitter.com/eYynoKZDoW
Joining the exchange was Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, who posted a counter to the Minister's rebuttal.
"Yes, it is also called being subservient to the political masters in face of foreign policy bloopers. Yes, it is called not being able to stand up to China in face of illegal occupation of our territory. Yes, it is called furthering the agenda of a party rather then the Nation," Randeep Surjewala responded to the Foreign Minister's tweet attacking Mr Gandhi.
Yes, it is also called being subservient to the political masters in face of foreign policy bloopers.— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) May 21, 2022
Yes, it is called not being able to stand up to China in face of illegal occupation of our territory.
Yes, it is called furthering the agenda of a party rather then the Nation. https://t.co/GUWBfTyzCr
Asked about the Russia-Ukraine conflict during the conference, Mr Gandhi drew parallels with the Chinese actions in Ladakh. Like Pakistan, the "deep state" is eating India, he alleged.
Reports have claimed that the Chinese side was constructing a second bridge over the Pangong Tso Lake in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
India on Friday said that a second bridge being constructed by China on Pangong lake is in an area that has been under illegal occupation of that country since 1960.
"We have seen reports of a bridge being constructed by China on Pangong Lake alongside its earlier bridge," said the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. "Both these bridges are in areas that have continued to be under the illegal occupation of China since the 1960s," Mr Bagchi said.
At the conference, Mr Gandhi slammed the BJP government at the Centre on multiple fronts and alleged that the "deep state" in India is attacking institutions and capturing them.
"What is happening today is that there is a systematic attack on the institutions that allow conversations to take place. There is an attack on the Constitution of India. The result of this attack is that the states of India are longer able to negotiate with the government," said Mr Gandhi.
The BJP accused the Congress leader of harming India in his "hate" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and alleged his frequent critical remarks about the country from foreign soils amounted to "betraying" it.