PM's raising of Katchatheevu issue during poll campaign was 'highly irresponsible': Congress

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for raising the Katchatheevu issue during the Lok Sabha polls campaign, the Congress on Monday said it threatened to derail India's relationship with Sri Lanka and asked if he and his colleagues would apologise for having created this "huge scare" with a neighbouring country.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also said raking up of the issue was "highly irresponsible" and a "severe distortion of history".

In the run-up to the polls in Tamil Nadu, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had claimed that former prime ministers of the Congress displayed indifference to the Katchatheevu island and gave away Indian fishermen's rights despite legal views to the contrary.

Jaishankar made the remarks at a press conference after Modi cited a media report to assert new facts revealed that the Congress "callously" gave away the Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka.

In a post on X, Ramesh noted Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe was present during Sunday's swearing-in ceremony.

"Remember the Katchateevu issue that was 'manufactured' by the 'one-third prime minister' during the election campaign and taken up by his colleagues to gather support for the BJP in Tamil Nadu. This was highly irresponsible and a severe distortion of history," Ramesh said.

It threatened to derail India's relationship with Sri Lanka, the Congress general secretary added.

Ramesh said the people of Tamil Nadu gave a befitting reply to it.

"But will Mr Modi and his colleagues apologise for having created this huge scare with our neighbour, especially when he boasts of a Neighbourhood First policy?" Ramesh asked.

Hitting back at the BJP over the issue, opposition leaders back then had cited a 2015 RTI reply that stated the agreements in 1974 and 1976 did not involve either acquiring or ceding of territory belonging to India and asked if the "change" in the Modi government's stance was for "election politics". PTI ASK ASK SZM