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EAM Jaishankar takes on Rahul Gandhi; objects to use of term ‘pitai’ for jawans


NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday strongly objected to the use of the term “pitai” (beating) by former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi while referring to the India-China clash in Tawang, and asserted that our soldiers have stood their ground in Yangtse in Arunachal Pradesh and should be “appreciated and honoured”.

There is no problem with political criticism of the government’s actions, Jaishankar said, but objected to “direct or indirect” criticism of the soldiers guarding the country’s frontiers.

His remarks during the debate on the Anti Maritime Piracy Bill in the Lok Sabha were in response to Gandhi’s allegations in Jaipur last week that China had taken away 2,000 square kilometres of Indian territory, killed 20 Indian soldiers, and was “beating our jawans in Arunachal Pradesh”.

“The word ‘pitai’ (beating) should not be used for our jawans. Our jawans are standing their ground. They should be respected, they should be honoured, and they should be appreciated. This is not something that is appropriate,” he said.

There is no problem with political differences or criticism of the government’s action,”but, I think we should not directly or indirectly criticise our jawans. When our jawans are standing in Yangtse at 13,000 feet, defending our borders, they do not deserve the word ‘pitai’,” he said.

Taking a dig at Gandhi, Jaishankar said he has heard remarks that he needed to deepen his understanding of global developments.

“I have heard that my own understanding needs to be deepened. When I see who is giving the advice I can only bow and respect,” the external affairs minister said.

Gandhi had also hit out at Jaishankar, saying he keeps making remarks but needs to “deepen his understanding.”

Jaishankar also disapproved of the Congress’ criticism of the government’s celebrations over India’s G-20 Presidency.

“This is a moment when the world is looking for Indian leadership. When the world values India’s leadership. Just because something is rotational does not mean you are not valued,” he said.

Participating in the debate, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that India’s Presidency of the G-20 was being “propagated in a manner to glamourise an individual and a government.”

“I don’t know the significance of this kind of propaganda because .. as a system of rotation we have been entrusted to host G-20,” Chowdhury said.

Jaishankar also appeared to be surprised by Chowdhury’s remarks that the government was indifferent towards China.

“If we were indifferent to China then who sent the Indian Army to defend our posts? If we were indifferent to China then why are we pressurising China for de-escalation and disengagement? Why are we saying publicly that our relations are not normal,” Jaishankar said. (PTI)

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