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In a first, PM Modi comes close to acknowledging 'victory' at Doklam

Slanted reference to Doklam comes amid reports of troop build up by China and Foreign Secretary's visit to Bhutan

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the Golden Jubilee Year Celebrations of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Prime Minister on Wednesday termed critics of his government as those suffering from ‘Shalya-vrutti’, or pessimism, who are exultant about economic slowdown on the meagre evidence of a dip in growth in one quarter. The PM also seemed to suggest that such pessimists were dismissive of India’s strength in standing up to on the issue.

This is the first instance of the PM uttering the word in a reference to the 73-day military stand-off between and He referred to ‘Doklam’ during his speech to company secretaries from across the country. 

The PM’s reference to ‘Doklam’ comes on a day that Foreign Secretary is on a four-day visit to Bhutan. It is the Foreign Secretary’s first visit to Thimphu after and resolved standoff on August 28. Jaishankar's visit comes amid reports that was amassing troops near plateau, which New Delhi and Thimphu consider Bhutanese territory.

While officials and ruling party politicians in had termed resolution of the dispute as a moral victory for India, the PM, any of his senior ministers or Security Adviser have been yet to refer to it as such on record.

But this changed on Wednesday. In his speech, the PM likened critics of his government’s handling of the economy to ‘Shalya’. He said ‘Shalya’ was a character in the epic Mahabharata. He was the charioteer of Karna, who fought on the side of the Kauravas. Modi said Shalya would continuously utter comments to discourage Karna during his battle with Arjun.

The PM said that not just in the era of Mahabharata, but there are Shalyas present in contemporary times as well. “Nothing can be done, how will you do it? When happened these same people…” the PM, gesticulating with his hands, indicating that such people were dismissive about India’s ability to stand firm against during the stand-off.

The Ministry of External Affairs said that during the Foreign Secretary’s Bhutan visit, which began on Monday, he has met with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji. Jaishankar has also held wide-ranging talks with his counterpart Dasho Sonam Tshong.

This is the first high-level visit from after the end of the stand-off between Indian and Chinese armies at Dokalam, a strategically key area at the Bhutan-India-tri-junction in the Sikkim sector.

Asked whether the Dokalam stand-off figured in the talks, the MEA officials refused to comment. The MEA said discussions included implementation of the ongoing India-assisted projects under Bhutan's eleventh five-year plan.

The ministry said priorities of Bhutan for the twelfth five-year plan and bilateral cooperation in areas of trade and economic ties, hydropower cooperation, and people to people contacts, were also discussed.

Indian and Chinese troops were locked in a 73-day-long stand-off in since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and have a dispute over Bhutan and were in touch with each other during the course of the face-off that ended on August 28.

First Published: Thu, October 05 2017. 01:21 IST