G20 Summit: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor Terms Delhi Declaration 'Diplomatic Triumph', Calls Opposition's Exclusion Disappointing

India was able to find a formula to bridge the gap between countries over Ukraine War and that is a significant diplomatic achievement, said Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

Shashi Tharoor

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday called the issuance of the G20 New Delhi Leaders' Declaration with consensus "a diplomatic triumph for India" but also criticised the Narendra Modi government for the exclusion of the Opposition from the G20 Summit. 

Speaking after the conclusion of the two-day G20 Summit, Tharoor said that the G20 Summit under India's presidency had both and good elements. 

While Tharoor hailed the issuance of the joint statement under India's presidency as an achievement, he termed the inconvenience caused to people in Delhi from restrictions placed during the summit and "complete exclusion" of the Opposition as "two very disappointing developments".

The issuance of G20 New Delhi Leaders' Declaration with consensus amid sharp divisions among the member countries over Ukraine War has been seen as a major achievement of India. Besides the joint statement, the inclusion of African Union (AU) as a G20 permanent member under presidency of India, which has made the promotion of the interests of the developing world central to its foreign policy, has also been seen as a highlight of the G20 Summit. 

While the G20 Summit under Indian presidency has generally been hailed as a success, the Congress party has largely slammed the government over issues like alleged extravagance and the exclusion of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, from the official agenda. The chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, with the lone exception of Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, had boycotted the dinner hosted by President Droupadi Murmu in honour of visiting visiting G20 dignitaries, including the heads of state and government.

In a video shared by ANI, Tharoor said, "The Delhi Declaration is undoubtedly a diplomatic triumph for India. It's a good achievement because right until the G-20 summit was being convened, the widespread expectation was there would be no agreement and that therefore a joint communique might not be possible. We might have to end up with a chairman's summary. The reason for that, in particular, the main reason was the big gulf between those who wanted a condemnation of the Russian war in Ukraine and those, like Russia and China, who wanted no mention whatsoever of that subject. India was able to find a formula to bridge that gap. And that is a significant diplomatic achievement because when there is a Summit without a joint communique, it is always seen as a setback for the chairman."

While praising the consensus reached during India's presidency, Tharoor criticised the exclusion of the Opposition and the restrictions in Delhi.

"With the G-20 Summit itself, we saw two very disappointing developments. One was the complete exclusion of the public interest from the summit. For example, the shutdown of Delhi for three days with great difficulties for daily wage workers and others who had no income for those days...the second negative in terms of the summit itself was the complete failure to accommodate the opposition...The leader of the opposition was not invited. The opposition members of Parliament were not invited, not even the members of the relevant parliamentary committees dealing with foreign affairs. Nobody was invited to any of the events, the receptions, or the dinner... I thought that was very unfortunate," said Tharoor, Congress MP from Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram, in the video shared by ANI.

The Modi government had invited the chief ministers and former prime ministers to the dinner, but had excluded Kharge, Rajya MP and Leader of Opposition in the Upper House. While Congress CMs except for Sukhu boycotted the dinner, other chief ministers from the Opposition bloc INDIA, including Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, and Hemant Soren, attended the dinner. 

Notably, the invitation to the dinner hosted by Murmu is at the centre of a raging political storm. The invitation mentions Murmu as the "President of Bharat" instead of "President of India" and the Opposition has slammed that the Modi government for planning to change the name of the country to Bharat after getting insecure from the name of the Opposition bloc (INDIA). The speculation over the change of name of nation has found increased traction as the Modi government has called a special session of the Parliament later this month during September 18-22, the agenda of which is not known. Speculation about the agenda ranges from the change of nation's name to the passage of bills for 'one nation, one election'.