Kolkata, April 9 (IANS) Attacking the Congress-led UPA government, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday termed the diplomatic row with Italy over two Italian marines as an “insult” to India and advocated a pro-active foreign policy.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, who has been inducted into its all-important parliamentary boards, was sharp in his criticism of the UPA government over the way it handled the issue related to the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala last year.
“Even Italy tries to frighten us. This was a diplomatic matter. But the Supreme Court had to get involved. Why? The way things were handled, it was an insult to the country,” he said at a meeting of business chambers here.
Modi’s reference was to the Italian government’s refusal to send back the two marines to India accused of killing two Indian fishermen, after they were allowed to travel to Italy to vote in elections.
The marines eventually returned to face trial in India after delicate diplomatic negotiations and after the Supreme Court barred the Italian ambassador from leaving New Delhi.
Modi said trade relations today mattered in diplomacy and regretted that India had failed to give leadership even to the SAARC grouping on economic issues.
According to him, India was “a small soldier” in most international groupings and this needed to change. India, he said, needed a “proactive” foreign policy.
Pointing at an embarrassing faux pas committed by a former union minister at an international forum, Modi also questioned the ability of those governing the country.
“How would you react if I read a speech prepared on women empowerment here? What will you think if I talked about women when men are sitting here?”
“An external affairs minister from the country read from the speech of another country. This happened because all non-serious people are running the country,” said Modi.
“(This is why) people laugh at us. All non-serious people are sitting on seats of power. There is nowhere a sign of governance,” added Modi.
Modi was referring to former foreign minister S.M. Krishna who, in 2011, during a debate at the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, inadvertently read out a part of Portuguese minister’s speech before being corrected by an Indian envoy.
He also regretted that the prime minister had not acted on his suggestion that instead of fencing the international border with Pakistan, solar energy should be tapped from there and the project be given to the Border Security Force. Along with protection, energy can also be harnessed, he said.
“The prime minister liked the suggestion but still nothing has been done in this field,” lamented Modi.