Raising Katchatheevu issue shows PM Modi's desperation: Kharge

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Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge addressing INDIA bloc rally at Ramlila ground in New Delhi

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge addressing INDIA bloc rally at Ramlila ground in New Delhi

New Delhi: Hitting back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his charge that Indira Gandhi gave away Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday asked why he did not take steps to get it back during his 10-year rule and alleged that raising the "sensitive" issue ahead of elections shows his "desperation".


The opposition leader also questioned why the prime minister gave a "clean chit" to China after 20 bravehearts made supreme sacrifice in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

Kharge said that Katchatheevu island was given to Sri Lanka as part of a friendly agreement in 1974 and reminded the Modi government that it too had undertaken a similar "friendly gesture" towards Bangladesh on exchange of border enclaves.

"Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi ji, You have suddenly woken up to the issues of territorial integrity and national security in your 10th year of misrule. Perhaps, elections are the trigger. Your desperation is palpable," he said in a post on X.


Citing his statement made in 2015, he said the prime minister had said, "The Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh is not just about realignment of land, it is about a meeting of hearts".

"This is your own statement in 2015 lauding your own government's realisation of Smt. Indira Gandhi's initiative in 1974," Kharge said.

He also alleged, "Under your Government, in a friendly gesture, 111 enclaves from India were transferred to Bangladesh, and 55 enclaves came to India." In 1974, the Congress chief said, a similar agreement, based on a friendly gesture, was initiated with another country - Sri Lanka on Katchatheevu.


"On the eve of elections in Tamil Nadu, you are raising this sensitive issue, but your own Government's Attorney General, Shri Mukul Rohtagi in 2014 told the following to the Supreme Court - 'Katchatheevu went to Sri Lanka by an agreement in 1974'¦ How can it be taken back today? If you want Katchatheevu back, you will have to go to war to get it back'.

"Pradhan Mantri ji, you should tell, did your government take any steps to resolve this issue and take back Katchatheevu," he asked.

"Gandhi ji, Pandit Nehru ji, Sardar Patel ji, Indira Gandhi ji, Rajiv Gandhi ji - all our beloved leaders lived and died for India's unity, our territorial integrity.


"Sardar Patel ji played a vital role in uniting 600 princely states.

"In contrast, you, PM Modi, gave a clean chit to China, after 20 bravehearts made supreme sacrifice in Galwan Valley...," the Congress chief said.

Kharge also questioned the government's foreign policy with regard to India's neighbours including Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives.


"It is the first time in history, that Pakistan bought weapons from Russia, due to your foreign policy failure," he alleged.

There is not a single village in India, he said, where a Congressperson has not shed blood for the unity of the nation.

"It was the Congress under the guidance of our leaders Smt. Indira Gandhi and Shri Rajiv Gandhi who gave away their lives to successfully fight violent secessionist forces and maintained the unity and integrity of the nation by successfully keeping Punjab, Assam, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu and Nagaland among others, within the Indian Union, and merging Sikkim and Goa with India," he said.


It was the Congress, he said, that despite severe constraints, kept the issue of Tibet's sovereignty alive, "only to be summarily squandered by a predecessor PM of your party".

"Stop this obsession with the Congress, and reflect on your own misdeeds, due to which India is suffering," Kharge said in his post.

Prime Minister Modi on Sunday cited a media report to assert that new facts reveal that the Congress "callously" gave away Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka.

"Eye-opening and startling! New facts reveal how Congress callously gave away Katchatheevu. This has angered every Indian and reaffirmed in people's minds- we can't ever trust Congress," he said on X, sharing the report.

Modi added, "Weakening India's unity, integrity and interests has been Congress' way of working for 75 years and counting."