Why is PM Modi mum on parade hailing Indira Gandhi’s assassination, asks Congress

Congress says PM Modi should speak to his Canadian counterpart and convey to him that such acts are unacceptable to India; party asks Jaishankar to back up statement with decisive action

June 08, 2023 09:56 pm | Updated June 09, 2023 02:51 am IST - New Delhi

Image made from video tweeted by Congress leader Murli Deora shows a tableau that depicted the Indira Gandhi assassination at a parade in Brampton, Canada. Photo: Twitter/@milinddeora

Image made from video tweeted by Congress leader Murli Deora shows a tableau that depicted the Indira Gandhi assassination at a parade in Brampton, Canada. Photo: Twitter/@milinddeora

Questioning why External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar did not unequivocally condemn the parade in Canada that celebrated the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Congress on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak to his Canadian counterpart and convey that such acts were ‘unacceptable’ to India.

The principal Opposition party asked why Mr. Modi had not spoken to his Canadian counterpart after the viral images of a tableau/float that depicted the assassination at a parade in Brampton recently.

Asked to respond at a press conference earlier in the day, Mr. Jaishankar said that the issue was not “good for relationships” but went to raise the larger underlying issue of a country giving space to separatists and extremists who advocated violence.

“I think there is a larger underlying issue about the space which is given to separatists, to extremists, to people who advocate violence,” Mr. Jaishankar said, adding, ”I think it is not good for relationships, not good for Canada”.

Stating that Indira Gandhi was one of the tallest leaders who laid down her life for the sovereignty of India, Congress general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said Mr. Modi, the EAM and the Indian High Commission in Canada must take firm steps to convey the anger of 140 crore Indians.

“The disgusting event of Brampton, Canada, compels PM Modi to rise above partisan interests and speak against such events being allowed. Why has EAM S. Jaishankar not summoned the Canadian High Commissioner yet? In his briefing today, S. Jaishankar gave a general statement, instead of specifically acknowledging Indira ji’s martyrdom. Why did he prevaricate, and not unequivocally condemn the event,” asked Mr. Venugopal.

Addressing a press conference at the All India Congress Committee headquarters, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said the Prime Minister should immediately talk to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Khalistani elements would have “a bearing on the security situation in Punjab and rest of the country”

‘Politically partisan’

“Why does not our Prime Minister pick up the phone and speak to his Canadian counterpart [Justin Trudeau]? Why isnt the High Commissioner of Canada being summoned and a strong diplomatic protest being lodged? Why no action is being taken? Is it because this is a politically partisan thing and is this how you are going to treat India’s interest. That is our question,” he asked at a press conference.

Mr. Surjewala said that the EAM’s statement on the incident having a bearing on the relationship between India and Canada was not sufficient and “it needs to be backed up with decisive action on the ground”.

The issue was first raised by Congress leader and former Union Minister Milind Deora as he shared the video of the recent parade in Brampton that depicted the assassination.

“As an Indian, I’m appalled by the 5 km-long parade which took place in the city of Brampton, Canada, depicting the assassination of Indira Gandhi. It’s not about taking sides, it’s about respect for a nation’s history and the pain caused by its Prime Minister’s assassination,” tweeted Mr. Deora.

Despicable, says Jairam Ramesh

While Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh tweeted that the incident was despicable and Dr. Jaishankar should take it up strongly with the Canadian authorities, his colleague Supriya Shrinate tweeted, ”..all that our govt has done is make this one general comment — without even naming Smt Indira Gandhi. Our national interests and security must be above any political concerns. India must take this up officially with the Canadian government”.

Earlier, Canadian High Commissioner to India Cameron Mackay said he was “appalled” by the reports of the event in his country that “celebrated” the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister. “There is no place in Canada for hate or for the glorification of violence. I categorically condemn these activities,” Mr. Mackay had tweeted.

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