With India and China locked in a standoff on the border area abutting Bhutan, the Congress today said party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had met the ambassadors of the two neighbouring countries.
The party said Gandhi met the ambassadors of China and Bhutan, but did not specify when or where the meetings were held.
Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter in the evening to admit that he had met the Chinese envoy.
He wrote, “It is my job to be informed on critical issues. I met the Chinese Ambassador, Ex-NSA, Congress leaders from NE & the Bhutanese Ambassador.”
It is my job to be informed on critical issues. I met the Chinese Ambassador, Ex-NSA, Congress leaders from NE & the Bhutanese Ambassador
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 10, 2017
In further tweets, Gandhi said, “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. And for the record I am not the guy sitting on the swing while a thousand Chinese troops had physically entered India.”
Downplaying the meetings, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called them a “courtesy call” and said “envoys of neighbouring countries” met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the vice-president from “time to time”.
The envoys of G5 – a group that consists of China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, apart from India — also meet the two Congress leaders, he said.
The party VP had met Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui, Bhutanese ambassador Vetsop Namgyel and former national security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, he said.
But “nobody should try to sensationalise such normal courtesy calls to term them an event like the sources of the Ministry of External Affairs are attempting to do,” he said.
Surjewala had earlier tweeted that the news about Gandhi meeting the Chinese envoy was “planted” by government agencies through “bhakt channels”.
Before MEA & IB sources plant news with 'Bhakts', they should reverify that we still have diplomatic relations with all our neighbours.2/n
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 10, 2017
The spokesperson said the party VP and other opposition leaders were “fully aware of national interests” and were concerned about the “grave situation” on the India-China border as well as “the situation arising in Bhutan and Sikkim”.
The troop impasse is in the Doka La or Doklam area, near Sikkim.
Tension on the border built up after a Chinese army construction party attempted to erect a road in the region three weeks ago.
Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as a part of its Donglang region.
(With PTI inputs)