Six hours after an assertive denial of meeting between Rahul Gandhi and Chinese envoy Luo Zhaohui, the Congress did a major flip-flop and said that not only did the party vice-president meet the latter, but the Bhutanese envoy as well.
"Various ambassadors and envoys keep meeting the Congress president and the vice-president from time to time on a courtesy basis, particularly those of G5 nations and also of the neighbouring countries - be it the Chinese Ambassador, or the Bhutanese Ambassador or the former national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon," Congress spokerperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told ANI.
"Rahul Gandhi met all of them. So, nobody should try to sensationalise such normal courtesy calls or term them as events, like the sources from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) are trying to do. Rahul Gandhi and other Opposition leaders are fully aware of or national interests and other concerns about the grave situation on the Indo-Chinese Border and Bhutan, including Sikkim," he added.
Surjewala also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, "Despite having sour relations with the China, our Prime Minister met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Germany."
Earlier in the day, the Chinese Embassy in Delhi first posted and later removed a statement on its website saying that the two met after the Congress denied it as "fake news".
Surjewala, in a series of tweets, said some news channels were running "fake news" on Rahul's alleged meeting with the Chinese Ambassador.
"A wanting to be 'Bhakt' channel will not question 3 Union Ministers visiting China or PM's bonhomie & praise at G20 yet run fake news! Before MEA & IB sources plant news with 'Bhakts', they should reverify that we still have diplomatic relations with all our neighbours.2/n" he tweeted.
A wanting to be 'Bhakt' channel will not question 3 Union Ministers visiting China or PM's bonhomie & praise at G20 yet run fake news!— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 10, 2017
Before MEA & IB sources plant news with 'Bhakts', they should reverify that we still have diplomatic relations with all our neighbours.2/n— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 10, 2017
"Ohh! And 'Bhakts' are precluded from questioning this doublespeak too. We forget-two BJP mouthpieces & sundry wannabe's get a script!"
Ohh! And 'Bhakts' are precluded from questioning this doublespeak too.— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 10, 2017
We forget-two BJP mouthpieces & sundry wannabe's get a script! pic.twitter.com/KfrofnNh6Z
Earlier on 7 July, Rahul had asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been "silent" on China, in a tweet."Why is our Prime Minister silent on China?" he had posted.
Why is our Prime Minister silent on China?— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) July 7, 2017
This comes amid a lengthy standoff between the Armies of the two countries on Line of Actual Control adjoining Sikkim on India's eastern border.New Delhi has expressed its serious apprehensions over Beijing constructing a road in the Sikkim sector of the LAC.
India claims Sikkim border as part of its territory, while China has said that the area falls on their side as per the 1890 treaty signed between British and China.
Consequently, China suspended the annual Kailash Manasarovar yatra and conceded that the decision to suspend the pilgrimage was due to the border scuffle.
It also alleged that the Indian troops had crossed the Sikkim sector of the Indo-China border. Beijing has accused New Delhi of violating a convention signed in 1890 between Britain and China relating to Sikkim and Tibet.