Mumbai: Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Shiv Sena said on Tuesday that he has “broken all previous records” of going on international tours, and asked what has the nation gained out of it. Taking a dim view of India’s defence deals with France and Russia, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party claimed that US President Donald Trump was “threatening” India with trade sanctions, if Delhi does not agree to F-16 fighter jets deal. The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, took a swipe at Modi, saying he is a “reincarnation of Lord Vishnu which is probably why he has been travelling across the world to give a darshan to his devotees”.
Though Sena is part of the ruling BJP-led alliance at the Centre and in Maharashtra, the two parties have had strained ties ever since the BJP decided to go it alone in the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections. Asked about comments made in the ‘Saamana’ editorial, Mumbai BJP spokesperson Niranjan Shetty said his party does not react to observations made in the mouthpiece of any political party. The Sena said there are several countries with which India does not have good relations. “May be the PM goes on foreign tours to improve them,” it said adding crores of rupees have been spent on his visit.
“What did India gain in return?” “First the Rafale jet deal was signed with France in which allegations of corruption have sprung up. Then, America objected to India signing a deal with Russia for its S-400 air defence missile system. When India signed the deal, America (now) wants India to buy F-16 fighter jets to placate itself after the India-Russia pact,” the Sena said.
It alleged that America is “threatening” India with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions for signing the deal for the Russian S-400 air defence system. It said the US has already sold F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, so the neighbouring country has all the “secret details” of the aircraft, yet the Trump administration wants to sell them to India.
“The day there is peace between India and Pakistan, several countries with large economies will be forced to beg for money, so they do not want peace. These nations always want instability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India,” the editorial in the Marathi daily said. He said India’s neighbours are also “not friends from heart”, it said. “Even Nepal, which is known to be a Hindu country, is dancing to the tunes of China and Pakistan. So, the question is what did India gain by spending… on Modi’s foreign tours,” the Sena said.