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PM Modi: Ceding island part of Congress’s ‘historic failures’

Published:

NEW DELHI:

PM Modi

Tuesday kept up the attack on

Congress

and

DMK

as he linked the

Indira Gandhi

govt’s decision to cede

Katchatheevu island

in Palk Strait to Sri Lanka in 1974 to Congress’ “historic failures” in protecting the country’s territorial integrity.
“Can Congress, which was responsible for division of the country, still talks about dividing the country and gave away Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka, protect the country?” Modi asked in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand, at an election rally.

He had attacked Congress on Sunday in Meerut for giving away the island to Sri Lanka.
Bringing up the issue in the Rudrapur rally, the PM linked it to the valour of jawans from Uttarakhand who sacrificed their lives to protect the country’s borders.
“Uttarakhand is known for brave mothers, whose brave sons stake their lives for every single inch of the motherland but another startling example about Congress’s failures has come to the fore. The issue pertains to Tamil Nadu but people of Uttarakhand should also know about Congress’s sins,” the PM said.

“Located near Tamil Nadu, Katchatheevu was a part of India but Congress gave it to Sri Lanka. If Indian fishermen go near the island even by mistake, they’re arrested and jailed. Tell me, can Congress, which talks about dividing the country, which give away Katchatheevu island, protect the country?” the PM asked.
While the PM led from the front, others in the govt and BJP also went on the attack.
Union minister Hardeep Puri said the Congress govt in 1974 ought to have taken Parliament’s concurrence while ceding the country’s territory. He faulted Congress’s ally DMK as well and said, “CM M Karunanidhi concurred with the agreement. But DMK opposed it in Parliament.”

He said territorial issues were negotiated on principle of “give and take” but in case of Katchatheevu, it was only “give” and no “take”, with no effort to secure reciprocal concessions from Sri Lanka.
The attacks on Congress came amid a sense of satisfaction in party circles that the revelations about India giving up its claim on the island has led the party to defend Indira Gandhi’s 1974 deal: a change from the posture where DMK as well as Congress, at least in Tamil Nadu, had washed their hands off it and would demand that Modi govt take steps to retrieve the island.
BJP found support from former foreign secretary Harsh Shringla who said it was strange on the part of the then govt to give in to pressure from Sri Lanka when even the British had recognised the island as part of India and not Ceylon as Sri Lanka was then known. “Nehru was indifferent to the issue and Indira Gandhi gave it to Sri Lanka through the delimitation treaty, which was a historical injustice to the country,” he said.

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