As a controversy erupted over his meetin with the Chinese envoy, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described the instance as his "job" and denounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the BRICS informal gathering few days back.
Rahul on Monday posted an apparently sardonic tweet, along with a picture of Prime Minister Modi on a swing with the Chinese President: "And for the record I am not the guy sitting on the swing while a thousand Chinese troops had physically entered India," while quoting an article bearing the headline 'Nearly 1,000 Chinese soldiers enter India.'
And for the record I am not the guy sitting on the swing while a thousand Chinese troops had physically entered India pic.twitter.com/THG4sULJJC— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) July 10, 2017
Further clarifying his meeting with the Chinese envoy, Rahul tweeted, "It is my job to be informed on critical issues. I met the Chinese Ambassador, Ex-NSA, Congress leaders from NE & the Bhutanese Ambassador. If Govt is so concerned abt me meeting an Amb,they shld explain why 3Ministers are availing Chinese hospitality while the border issue is on."
Earlier, six hours after an assertive denial of meeting between Rahul Gandhi and the Chinese envoy, the Congress did a major flip-flop and said that not only did the party vice-president meet the latter, but the Bhutanese envoy as well.
"Various ambassadors and envoys keep meeting the Congress president and the vice-president from time to time on a courtesy basis, particularly those of G5 nations and also of the neighbouring countries - be it the Chinese Ambassador, or the Bhutanese Ambassador or the former national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon," Congress spokerperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told ANI.
It is my job to be informed on critical issues. I met the Chinese Ambassador, Ex-NSA, Congress leaders from NE & the Bhutanese Ambassador— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) July 10, 2017
If Govt is so concerned abt me meeting an Amb,they shld explain why 3Ministers are availing Chinese hospitality while the border issue is on pic.twitter.com/4FCuu9SiAe— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) July 10, 2017
"Rahul Gandhi met all of them. So, nobody should try to sensationalise such normal courtesy calls or term them as events, like the sources from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) are trying to do. Rahul Gandhi and other Opposition leaders are fully aware of or national interests and other concerns about the grave situation on the Indo-Chinese Border and Bhutan, including Sikkim," he added.
Surjewala also attacked Prime Minister Modi and said, "Despite having sour relations with the China, our Prime Minister met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Germany."
Following this, the Congress downplayed the furore and said that the meeting took place in the wake of his regular work schedule.
Asking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to not get antsy about the meet, Congress leader Manish Tewari, while addressing a press conference said that if we in India are boycotting China, then Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi also should not have made an effort to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"The Congress vice-president in the course of his regular work schedule meets with a broad spectrum of people including diplomats and in this particular instance, he did meet with the Chinese ambassador; he did meet with the Bhutanese Ambassador; he did meet with the former national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and for all these people who have been getting very antsy about it since morning I have some questions too. If so much of 'brouhaha' is being made about it, then why did the Prime Minister of India actually crossed lake Alster and go to the Grand Elysee hotel? To meet with the Chinese President Xi Jinping? Especially after the Chinese had made it known that a bilateral meeting because of the stand-off in Bhutan is not possible," said Tewari.
This comes amid a lengthy standoff between the Armies of the two countries on Line of Actual Control adjoining Sikkim on India's eastern border.
New Delhi has expressed its serious apprehensions over Beijing constructing a road in the Sikkim sector of the LAC.
India claims Sikkim border as part of its territory, while China has said that the area falls on their side as per the 1890 treaty signed between British and China.
Consequently, China suspended the annual Kailash Manasarovar yatra and conceded that the decision to suspend the pilgrimage was due to the border scuffle.
It also alleged that the Indian troops had crossed the Sikkim sector of the Indo-China border. Beijing has accused New Delhi of violating a convention signed in 1890 between Britain and China relating to Sikkim and Tibet.