Appalling response to ‘genuine appeal’: Cong slams Jaishankar for accusing Siddaramaiah


New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday slammed External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for accusing former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of politicising the issue of Indians stranded in Sudan, saying it was an “appalling response” to a “genuine appeal” for assistance.

The Opposition party lashed out at the Modi government over the issue, saying the problem with most of ministers is that they are so eager to prove their loyalty to “their master and be his voice” that they have forgotten that they are sworn to certain responsibilities.

The issue began with Siddaramaiah posting a series of tweets saying “it is reported that 31 people from Karnataka belonging to Hakki Pikki tribe, are stranded in Sudan which is troubled by civil war” and the government is yet to initiate action to bring them back.

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The former Karnataka chief minister urged the prime minister’s office, the union home minister’s office and the ministry of external affairs to “immediately intervene” and ensure the safe return of the Indians.

Siddaramaiah also said the ‘Hakki Pikkis’ in Sudan are left stranded without food since the last few days.

He said the BJP government should immediately open diplomatic discussions and reach out to international agencies to ensure the well-being of Hakki Pikkis.

Jaishankar then came down hard on Siddaramaiah and tweeted, “Simply appalled at your tweet! There are lives at stake; don’t do politics.”

“Since the fighting started on April 14th, the Embassy of India in Khartoum has been continuously in touch with most Indian Nationals and PIOs in Sudan,” Jaishankar tweeted.

“Their details and locations cannot be made public for security reasons. Their movement is constrained by fierce fighting that is ongoing,” he added.

Jaishankar said plans regarding them have to take into account a “very complicated” security scenario and that the Indian embassy in Sudan is in constant touch with the Ministry of External Affairs over the situation in that country.

“It is grossly irresponsible of you to politicise their situation. No electoral goal justifies endangering Indians abroad,” he said.

Assembly elections in Karnataka are due next month.

Hitting back at Jaishankar, Siddaramaiah said, “Since you are the External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar I have appealed you for help. If you are busy getting appalled please point us to the person who can help us bring our people back.”

Tagging Jaishankar’s tweet accusing Siddaramaiah of politicising the issue, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “A most appalling response from the External Affairs minister to a former CM with a genuine appeal. This level of nastiness from a man I have known so very well… who has developed new loyalties and who wants to show that in whatever he says and does.”

Ramesh added that he will not say anything on Jaishankar’s past.

Asked about the sharp Twitter exchange between Jaishankar and Siddaramaiah, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said, “I am very shocked at the reaction that came. Our leader Siddaramaiah gave him an apt reply when he said that “if he is done with appalling, he needs to start assisting citizens’.”

The problem with people in this government is that for every little thing they get so riled up, she said.

“He (Siddaramaiah) put out a message seeking the assistance of India’s foreign minister to safely ensure the passage of citizens from Karnataka struck in Sudan, what was so riling about it. The problem with most of these ministers, who are so eager to prove their loyalty to their master and be his voice, is that they have forgotten that they are sworn to certain responsibilities, they are sworn to accountability,” Shrinate said.

“This was nothing about politicising this was about seeking help. You (Jaishankar) may be helpless, you may be good for nothing and that is who you are. You have decided to turn a two-rupee troll, good for you, do all you want to do, ensure the safe passage of citizens back in India,” she said.

Tagging a tweet on the Siddaramaiah-Jaishankar Twitter exchange, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said, “On this issue Dr S Jaishankar’s response surprises me. He knows that public representatives frequently convey to Govt appeals from constituents in distress. He has helped me with several during Covid. Why was Siddaramaiah ji’s request ‘appalling’?”

Sudan has been witnessing deadly fighting between the country’s army and a paramilitary group for the last five days that has reportedly left around 100 people dead.

Meanwhile, government sources said on Wednesday said India is coordinating closely with various countries to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals in violence-hit Sudan.

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( With inputs from )

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