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Business News/ Politics / News/  PM Modi gave clean-chit to China: Chidambaram spars with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Katchatheevu Island row
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PM Modi gave clean-chit to China: Chidambaram spars with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Katchatheevu Island row

Katchatheevu Island row: Former Home Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram reacted sharply to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's insinuations on Katchatheevu Island controversy, digging out a 2015 Right to Information (RTI) response to nail the Narendra Modi Govt on the issue.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram engaged in a war of words on the Katchatheevu Island issue. (Mint/Agencies)Premium
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram engaged in a war of words on the Katchatheevu Island issue. (Mint/Agencies)

Katchatheevu island row: Ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Government is trying to corner Congress on former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's 1974 decision to hand over Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka,  prompting the Congress to come out with a sharp rebuke on the BJP goverment's failure to check China's aggression into the Indian territory.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram engaged in a war of words on Monday, sparring on the historical aspects of the Katchatheevu Island issue.

After PM Modi's remarks on the Katchatheevu Island issue, Jaishankar read out the observations made by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the issue, to put the Congress on the back foot.

"This is an observation by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in May of 1961. He says, I attach no importance at all to this little island, and I would have no hesitation in giving up our claim to it. I do not like matters like this pending. Indefinitely and being raised again and again in Parliament. So, to Pandit Nehru, this was a little island. It had no importance. He saw it as a nuisance," the foreign minister quoted India's first PM as saying.

"This view continued to Indira Gandhi as well," Jaishankar added.

Former Home Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram reacted sharply to S Jaishankar's remark, quoting from a 2015 Right to Information (RTI) response in which the Narendra Modi-led government justified the circumstances under which India acknowledged that the small island belonged to Sri Lanka.

"Tit for tat is old. Tweet for Tweet is the new weapon. Will Foreign Minister Mr. Jaishankar please refer to the RTI reply dated 27-1-2015? I believe that Mr Jaishankar was the FM on 27-1-2015. The Reply justified the circumstances under which India acknowledged that the small island belonged to Sri Lanka. Why is the Foreign Minister and his ministry doing a somersault now? How quickly can people change colors? From a suave liberal Foreign Service officer to a smart Foreign Secretary to a mouthpiece of the RSS-BJP, the life and times of Mr Jaishankar will be recorded in the annals of acrobatic sports," P Chidambaram said in a post on X.

'PM Modi gave clean-chit to China'

P Chidambaram didn't just stop at S Jaishankar and questioned why PM Modi raked up the 1974 Katchatheevu Island issue while Chinese troops occupied 2,000 sq km of Indian territory. The senior Congress leader alleged that PM Modi has given a clean chit to China and should speak about what happened in the last three years.

"Why is the PM raking up an issue that was settled in 1974? In 1974, the Indira Gandhi government, in order to help lakhs of Tamils, negotiated with Sri Lanka. Katchatheevu Island was acknowledged as belonging to Sri Lanka. In return, 6 lakh Tamils were allowed to come to India. The issue was closed 50 years ago," P Chidambaram said.

“2,000 sq km of Indian territory has been occupied by Chinese troops. The PM says no Chinese troops are present in Indian territory and no part of Indian territory is in occupation of Chinese troops. You gave a clean chit to China. He should talk about what has happened in the last 3 years instead of what happened 50 years ago. Chinese occupation is aggression. I would request the PM to speak about that," the former home minister said, putting the ball on to the BJP"s court as the controversy escalates.

The controversy over Katchatheevu Island was raked up by BJP's Tamil Nadu unit president K Annamalai, who dug out RTI documents to charge that former PM Indira Gandhi had callously given away the island to Sri Lanka. 

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Published: 01 Apr 2024, 05:12 PM IST
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