Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi 'weak' after China blocked a fresh attempt to blacklist Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), drawing a sharp response from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which asked why the opposition leader was in a 'celebratory mood' at a time when Beijing's move had pained the nation.
In response to Gandhi's tweet targeting the Prime Minister, the BJP also said on Twitter that the country's first Prime Minister and Gandhi's great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, compromised India's interests at the UNSC. It shared an image of what it said was Nehru's letter dated August 2, 1955, supporting China's bid for a UNSC berth.
As the war of words over national security continued, Gandhi was first off the blocks. 'Weak Modi is scared of Xi [Chinese president Xi Jinping]. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India,' he tweeted, questioning Modi's policies on Beijing.
'NoMo's China Diplomacy: 1. Swing with Xi in Gujarat 2. Hug Xi in Delhi 3. Bow to Xi in China,' he said in the same tweet, recalling the Chinese leader's three-day visit to India in 2014 during which the two leaders sat on a swing in Ahmedabad at the Sabarmati riverfront.
His Twitter tirade came a day after China, for the fourth time, put on hold a request by the UK, France and the United States to add Jaish-e-Mohammed leader, Azhar, on a UN sanctions blacklist that would subject him to a global travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo. In its response, India said it was 'disappointed' by Beijing's stand.
Azhar's JeM has claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide bombing of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 security personnel. The attack brought India and China's all-weather ally, Pakistan, to the brink of a military standoff, and prompted the international community to urge the neighbours to exercise restraint.
Responding to Gandhi, finance minister Arun Jaitley posted on Twitter, 'Will the Congress President tell us who the original sinner was?'
'Pt. Nehru's infamous letter... dated August 2, 1955, states Informally, suggestions have been made by the US that China should be taken into the United Nations but not in the Security Council, and that India should take her place in the Security Council.'
'...We cannot, of course, accept this as it means falling out with China and it would be very unfair for a great country like China not to be in the Security Council,' he tweeted, quoting from the letter.
The original mistake, both on Kashmir and China, was committed by the same person, he added.
Mounting pressure on the opposition party, BJP leader and Union minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, asked at a press conference, 'Why is Rahul Gandhi in a celebratory mood when the country stands pained with this attitude of China?' He added that foreign policies were not run on Twitter.