Domestic politics can’t be reflected in foreign policy: BJP, Congress

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New Delhi, Dec 16 (IANS) Emotions and domestic politics cannot be reflected in a country’s foreign policy and that national interest must reign supreme, two senior leaders of the BJP and Congress said.

“I don’t think we should bring our ideology in our foreign policy,” BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said at a panel discussion at the launch of a book “Open Embrace: India-US Ties in the Age of Modi and Trump” by senior journalist Varghese K. George here on Saturday evening.

Madhav said that relations between India and the US had been steady between the two governments, highlighting the continuation in New Delhi’s policy vis-a-vis Washington.

He said that in the last four-and-a-half years, the NDA government tried to manage India’s relationship with the US, becoming a major defence partner of Washington and being treated at par with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies.

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“I don’t see any commonality how Trump deals with his voters and how Modi deals with his domestic constituency,” he said. “I don’t think it is right to give any colour to the India-US relationship.

“Foreign policy cannot be made through emotions but should be made keeping national interests in mind.”

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said that there cannot be abrupt departures in foreign policy with change of governments.

“You cannot allow your domestic politics to be reflected in your foreign policy,” he said.

Stating that the Congress had been formulating the foreign policy since the time of the freedom movement, Sharma said that India made it clear after Independence that it should be respected for what it is.

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“You must have the confidence to deal as an equal partner (with major powers).”

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s engagements with the Indian diaspora on his travels abroad, Madhav said that the NDA government was trying to give a new dimension to New Delhi’s foreign policy by including the diaspora.

“Modi wanted to leverage the Indian diaspora and that is why we made the diaspora an important part of our foreign policy,” he said.

In reply to a question on US President Donald Trump trying to bring in fundamental changes in Washington’s foreign policy, Madhav said: “You have to ensure that India is least affected by these policy changes.”

In this connection, he mentioned the US exempting India from Washington’s fresh bans on deals with Russian defence firms and Iranian oil imports.

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Asked about Trump’s tough immigration policies, Madhav said New Delhi had ensured that Indians were least affected by these.

Academic and foreign policy analyst C. Rajamohan was of the view that large countries cannot be turned around by individual leaders.

He said that Trump was trying to change three fundamental things in US foreign policy: tough immigration laws, going against globalisation under the slogan of “America First”, avoiding from interfering in the affairs of other countries, like in the case of Afghanistan.

Varghese, who started working on the book before Trump assumed office in 2016 after being posted as the Washington Correspondent of The Hindu daily, said he looked at foreign policy purely from the perspective of domestic politics.

–IANS

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