At a gathering of the Consultative Committee on External Affairs on Saturday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar faced probing questions from opposition Congress members, including Rahul Gandhi, on the government’s policy . The minister was told the govt should be mindful that a number of its internal policies and decisions are critically viewed by some countries.

Among the raft of questions — posed by Gandhi and Congress members Anand Sharma and Shashi Tharoor — were those on how the govt plans to interact with the new US administration, its strategy to counter China, the necessity to seek out a balance between India’s ties with the US and Russia and therefore the geopolitical contest that has broken out between the US and China. the govt was also asked to revive the interior dialogue and consultation process on policy issues.

Gandhi, it’s learnt, asked the govt to spell out its strategy to counter an increasingly aggressive and assertive China. He said there are fears that the planet could gravitate towards a bipolar global order where the US and China may emerge because the two major powers. Observing that China may fail in its design, Gandhi acknowledged that India should nevertheless have a technique to pre-empt that sort of a situation.

Jaishankar, it’s learnt, replied that the planet won’t turn bipolar within the immediate or foreseeable future and acknowledged that the role of massive powers like Russia, Japan, Germany and therefore the European Union can’t be discounted.

Sharma, it’s learnt, acknowledged that there has always been a national consensus on policy which is being diluted now because the government doesn’t hold dialogue or discussion within the country even when there are abrupt changes and turns in policy. He demanded that the interior dialogue and consultation process be restored.

All the members, it’s learnt, complemented the MEA for its prompt response during the lockdown, especially for evacuating Indian citizens and students from abroad.

Congress members also asked the govt to be mindful that a number of its policies and internal developments are becoming negative comments globally. Some domestic politics also had an adverse fallout in some neighbouring countries, they acknowledged . Both Sharma and Tharoor were Ministers of State for External Affairs within the UPA government. Sharma was also Commerce Minister.

Earlier this month, several British MPs across party lines had urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to require up the farmers’ protest in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sharma said the protesting farmers cannot just be labelled “Khalistanis” and acknowledged that given the presence of an outsized Indian diaspora in many countries, questions are sure to be asked.

In 2019, the Congress had held a hearing on India’s removal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. Earlier, the United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee, a strong bipartisan committee within the Congress , made critical observations about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

In Saturday’s meeting, some Congress members are learnt to possess asked the govt about its plans to interact with the incoming Joe Biden administration within the US, and acknowledged that New Delhi should balance its ties between the US and Russia.

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