New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday said the current crisis on the border with China is attributable to the "mismanagement" of the BJP-led government and the "wrong policies" pursued by it.
The crisis on the border, if not tackled firmly, can lead to a serious situation, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) -- the 3,500-km de-facto border with China.
Addressing the meeting, Gandhi also hit out at the government for "mercilessly" raising petrol and diesel prices for 17 consecutive days, even when global prices of crude oil were falling.
She also noted that the "mismanagement" of the COVID-19 pandemic will be recorded as one of "most disastrous failures" of the Narendra Modi government.
"Misfortunes do not come singly. India has been hit by a terrible economic crisis, a pandemic of huge proportions and, now, by a full-blown crisis on the borders with China. Much of each crisis is attributable to the mismanagement of the BJP-led NDA government and the wrong policies pursued by it," she said.
On the LAC crisis, Gandhi said, "The future is yet to unfold but we hope that mature diplomacy and decisive leadership will inform the government's actions in protecting our territorial integrity."
"...undeniable fact is that since April-May, 2020 till date, Chinese troops have committed brazen transgressions into our territory in Pangong Tso area and the Galwan Valley, Ladakh. True to its character, the government is in denial. The intrusion was detected and reported on May 5, 2020. Instead of a resolution, the situation deteriorated rapidly and there were violent clashes on June 15-16," she said.
Indian and Chinese armies have been on a six-week standoff in several areas of eastern Ladakh. The ties between the two countries came under severe strain after Chinese military killed 20 Indian Army personnel and injured around 76 in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15.
She said though the Congress party was the first to offer its total support to the armed forces and the government, there is "a growing feeling among the people that the government has gravely mishandled the situation".
"We urge upon the government that peace, calm and the restoration of the status quo ante along the LAC be the only guiding principles in our national interest. We will continue to closely watch the situation," she said.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, Gandhi said, "The grave deficiencies in the health infrastructure have been exposed. The promised 'peak' is nowhere in sight. The Centre has passed the buck to the state governments, but given them zero extra finances. Actually, the people have been left to protect themselves as best as possible."
Despite assurances of "the prime minister, who centralised all authority in his hands, the pandemic continues to rage", she said.
Endorsing Gandhi's remarks, Singh said, "The pandemic is not being tackled with the courage and magnitude and effort needed to tackle the crisis. Another instance is the crisis on the border, which if not tackled firmly, can lead to a serious situation."
As the coronavirus-induced lockdown halted economic activities, the Congress president said the economic crisis has only become worse. "The Modi government refuses to listen to good advice."
She said the need of the hour is a massive fiscal stimulus, putting money directly in the hands of the poor, protecting and nurturing MSMEs, and stimulating demand.
"Instead, the government announced a hollow financial package that had a fiscal component of less than 1 per cent of GDP. The government has added insult to injury by mercilessly raising petrol and diesel prices for 17 consecutive days, at a time when world prices of crude have fallen," she said.
The result, she said, is that a sliding economy is now hurtling toward a recession for the first time in 42 years.
"I am afraid there will be high unemployment, falling incomes and wages, and lower investment. Recovery is likely to take a long time, and that too only if the government corrects its course and adopts sound economic policies," she said.
The meeting of the CWC, the highest decision-making body of the Congress, started by paying homage to Col B Santosh Babu and the brave soldiers, who laid down their lives in the clash with Chinese troops.