Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "strongman image" is "now India's biggest weakness", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said this morning as he sharpened his attack on the government in his latest video on the issues facing the country.
"PM fabricated a fake strongman image to come to power. It was his biggest strength. It is now India's biggest weakness," Mr Gandhi, 50, wrote in a tweet as he shared a video message, referring to the June 15 clash with China in Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers died in the line of duty.
In the nearly two-minute video, shared two days after the Congress leader said India will pay a "huge price because of the government's cowardly actions", Rahul Gandhi is heard talking about China's "strategy to restructure the planet".
"Chinese don't do anything without thinking about a strategy. In their mind, they have mapped out a world and they are now trying to shape the world... that's what is the scale of what they are doing. That's what Gwadar is, that's what Belt and Road (project) is. It's the restructuring of the planet," Mr Gandhi said today.
PM fabricated a fake strongman image to come to power. It was his biggest strength.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 20, 2020
It is now India's biggest weakness. pic.twitter.com/ifAplkFpVv
"At the tactical level, they are trying to improve their position whether it's Galwan, whether it's Demchok or whether it's the Pangong Lake. They are disturbed by our highway, they want to make our highway redundant. And if they are thinking larger scale, they want to do something with Pakistan in Kashmir," he added.
The tensions between India and China cannot simply be defined as "a border issue", Mr Gandhi is heard saying in the clip as he stresses: "It's a border issue designed to put pressure on the Prime Minister and they are trying to attack his image."
"They understand that in order for Narendra Modi to be an effective politician, he has to protect the idea of the "56 inch (chest)" and this is the idea that Chinese are attacking. They are basically telling Mr Narendra Modi that 'if you do not say what we are saying we will destroy the idea of the Mr Narendra Modi as a strong leader'," Rahul Gandhi said today.
"Now the question is how will he (the Prime Minister) react... will he say I will take you on and say "I am the PM. I do not care about my image"...or he will succumb. The worry I have is that PM has succumbed... that the Chinese are sitting in our territory today and PM has publicly said that they are not. To me, it indicates that he is worried about his image. If he allows the Chinese to understand that they can manipulate him, the Indian Prime Minister will no longer be working for the country," he further says in the clip.
Today's attack is the latest in the series of comments made by Mr Gandhi criticizing the government's handling of tensions at the border and the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Yesterday, he had tweeted: "BJP has institutionalised lies. 1. Covid19 by restricting testing and misreporting deaths. 2. GDP by using a new calculation method. 3. Chinese aggression by frightening the media. The illusion will break soon and India will pay the price".
On Friday, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had countered Mr Gandhi in a series of tweets, ending the posts with a suggestion: "Ask yourself".
Mr Jaishankar gave examples to highlight his points that India has been working to improve ties with its neighbours and also wielding more weight in geopolitics.