MEA Dr S. Jaishankar held a meeting with MPs on the Ukraine crisis, India's stand at UNSC, UNGA and the evacuation process of the Indian citizens from the war-torn country.
New Delhi: Unthinkable things happen in Indian politics too. The Consultative meeting of the Members of Parliament attached to the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday (March 3) came as a morale booster for the Modi Government as nine lawmakers from six parties backed New Delhi's decision to abstain during voting at the UNSC and the UN General Assembly on the Ukraine crisis.
There were two certain takeaways from the two-hour-long meeting, which has been described as 'good' and 'excellent' by vocal opposition MPs.
Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, with considerable experience in handling foreign policy matters, said, "….. a reminder that when it comes to national interests we are all Indians first and foremost".
Another message in effect came from External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar when he said, "India is not Ukraine". Of course, Dr Jaishankar's remarks were provoked by none other Congress leader and MP from the southern state of Kerala, Rahul Gandhi.
One insider said, Rahul Gandhi asked about the 'impact' of Russia's attack on Ukraine and wanted to know if what Russia is doing in Ukraine can become an example even for China in its dealings with India, to which he got a mild snub. — "India is not Ukraine," retorted suave-diplomat-turned-minister Dr Jaishankar, who has also served in Beijing.
After the meeting, Dr Jaishankar tweeted: "A national consensus on the importance of dialogue and diplomacy. Thank all members for their participation. Just completed a MEA consultative committee meeting on developments in Ukraine. A good discussion on the strategic and humanitarian aspects of the issue."
He also wrote: "Strong and unanimous message of support for efforts to bring back all Indians from Ukraine."
Congress lawmaker Tharoor wrote – "Excellent meeting of the Consultative Committee on External Affairs this morning on Ukraine. My thanks to @DrSJaishankar and his colleagues for a comprehensive briefing and candid responses to our questions and concerns."
He even recorded his appreciation in public by writing on microblogging site, "This is the spirit in which foreign policy should be run."
Nothing could have been more satisfying, understanding and appreciable for the Narendra Modi government as the opposition parties have been critical of the ruling dispensation's handling of evacuation of Indian citizens and students from Ukraine.
Tharoor himself has been critical of the government's stand on abstaining during voting on the Ukraine crisis both at the UNSC and UNGA.
"Our stand has been that we do not support invading other countries and regime change through violence and war… After our abstention, many regretted that India had placed itself on the 'wrong side of history'," Tharoor tweeted last week.
However, he seemed to have seen reasons after the meet wherein Dr Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla briefed the members of the government's handling of the globally unforeseen crisis after Russia attacked or 'invaded' Ukraine on February 24.
"I have declined media requests for comments since the meeting is confidential," he wrote on Thursday, adding – "However we urged MEA to issue a more detailed statement than usual. The meeting took place in a constructive spirit and all parties are united in their desire to see our nationals return safely home."
He further wrote, "Nine MPs attended from six political parties. @INCIndia MPs present were Rahul Gandhi, Anand Sharma and myself."
"Frank discussions took place in an amicable atmosphere, a reminder that when it comes to national interests we are all Indians first and foremost," he added.
Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena wrote, "Attended the Consultative Committee meeting chaired by Hon Minister, @DrSJaishankarji. Foreign Secretary @HarshShringla ji briefed us about the situation in Ukraine and the evacuation efforts made by Govt of India. Thank them for the briefing and all stand united in the efforts to bring our students back home."