External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday gave a fiery speech in the Rajya Sabha and spoke on wide range of issues from Dhokalam standoff to relationship with Pakistan. She began her speech with India’s efforts to help its neighbours. Swaraj said, “India lent assistance to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal during natural disasters” She also lauded PM Narendra Modi, saying he has now become a global leader, who now sets the agenda of the world. On Doklam standoff between India and China, she said the issue can be resolved through talks bilaterally and also advocated patience. She also refuted the Opposition’s criticism on foreign policy, saying, under Modi both the US and Russia are with India. “Though we are friendly with Israel, we’ll never let down the Palestinian cause, ” she said. However, the Opposition parties are likely to move two privilege motions today against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Rajya Sabha for allegedly “providing wrong information on the Bandung Asia Africa relations conference and about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lahore visit in 2015”.
Here are the top highlights of Sushma Swaraj’s speech:
1. India lent assistance to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal during natural disasters.
2. Swaraj said “friend” can be the definition of India for its neighborhood. Bhutan is one of the closest friends of India at present.
3. Until they called Burhan Wani “a martyr”, India tried to be the friend of Pakistan, she added.
4. The external affairs minister said when she visited Pakistan for the ‘Heart of Asia Conference’ on December 9,2015, Sharif had said the dialogue should be started in a new format and it was given the name of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. Then Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi went to Lahore as part of that initiative, taking an ‘out-of-box’ decision, she said.
5. The foreign policy of India is to have friends in all parts of the world. Both EU and Britain are India’s allies; both Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the allies of India, Swaraj said.
6. Israel might be our friend. But India will never let down the Palestinian cause, Sushma Swaraj said.
7. Dokalam issue can be resolved through bilateral talks and patience can help in finding a solution to problems with neighbhours, she said.
8. Both America and Russia are supporting India in the fight against terrorism, she said.
9. Swaraj also slammed Rahul Gandhi as he first met the Chinese ambassador instead of trying to understand the situation from the Indian government. “I was very saddened that the Opposition instead of considering the point of view of the Indian government, went and met the Chinese ambassador,” she said.
10. On India’s position of Doklam crisis, Swaraj said there is 13 point common understanding between India and China. It states that “The tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalized in consultation with the concerned countries.” Since 2012 we have not held any discussion on the tri-junction with Bhutan. The Chinese action in the Doklam area is therefore of concern, she said.
11. Swaraj also added, “with regard to the boundary in the Sikkim sector there are still steps to be covered before the boundary is finalized. This understanding has been reflected in the Common Understanding of December 2012 in point number 12 which states that “There is mutual agreement on the basis of the alignment of the India China boundary in the Sikkim sector as provided by the convention between China and Great Britain relating to Tibet and Sikkim signed in 1890”
12. Modiji goes on foreign tours as a Prime Minister to set the global agenda, Swaraj said.
13. She also took a jibe on the opposition’s allegation that it is PMO, which runs the foreign policy of the country and not the MEA. Swaraj asked Manmohan Singh, “How many times did you take Salman Khurshid with you during foreign tours.” She added that “I’m fortunate to have a PM who gives me autonomy to run my Ministry and also takes my consultation in various affairs”.
14. In her own style, she took on the opposition Congress. First, she praised former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, saying he had done good work at international level. Then, she added, Nehru enhanced his personal image, the present prime minister is enhancing the country’s image through his efforts across the world.
15. On opposition’s concerns regarding India’s foreign policy, she said the “concerns” voiced by the Congress regarding Chinese involvement in the construction of Gwadar port in Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka were “born” during the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule and the present government was settling these.
16. External Affairs Minister also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his role in evacuating Indians from Yemen. She said the Saudi King was persuaded to halt firing for a while. “It was not an easy feat.” India had evacuated 6,700 people, including the nationals of 41 countries, under the ‘Operation Raahat’ in March-April of 2015 when internal strife in the Arab nation grew out of control, Swaraj said.
17. Swaraj also asserted that the opinion formed by the Opposition in the House that all our neighbours have turned against us is far away from the truth. “Whenever there is a crisis in any neighbouring country, they look up to India and we are the first to respond to them,” Swaraj said.
18. When Maldives faced water crisis, India sent them entire ship loaded with drinking water, Swaraj said.
19. Attacking the Congress for their policy towards Nepal, Swaraj said “for 17 years, no Indian PM had visited Nepal which included the UPA tenure.”
20. On Nepal blockade which was about two years back, she said such a situation had been seen even during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure.