Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been waxing eloquent about his government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative but his political party has been accused of not practising what he has been preaching.
The BJP, it is alleged, distributed around 750 Chinese-made tablets in the party-state executive held under the shadow Sardar Patel’s towering Statue of Unity in Kevadia last month.
Ironically, the tablets were distributed under the Digital India campaign of BJP chief CR Patil, who had the country’s highest victory margin in the last Lok Sabha elections and is considered the father of booth management in Gujarat.
The tablets are loaded with info about the party’s schemes and their implementation, with testimonials. It has the entire history of the RSS and the BJP and every speech made by BJP MPs and MLAs of Gujarat. Patil has vowed to distribute 10,000 more such tablets.
After the made-in-China gaffe was highlighted, Gujarat BJP spokesperson Yagnesh Dave said a non-issue was being blown up.
“We distributed branded Lenovo tablets in Kevadia,” Dave said. “They were purchased and manufactured in India. Lenovo manufacturing plant is in Gurgaon. We are accused of distributing Chinese products but it is a created issue, not a real one.”
He said the BJP could not be blamed if most gadgets had some China link.
“Everything from our phones, laptops, cameras to most electronic devices in India are either assembled or registered in China,” he said. “But we have to check if the company is registered or based in India. Neither we purchased anything from China nor did we buy something unbranded. We are blamed without a valid reason.”
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia accused the BJP of being two-faced and twisted the knife with a reference to soldiers.
“They ask citizens to ban Chinese products but they themselves distribute them in Kevadia. While our committed soldiers fight for the country’s safety in the Indo-Chinese border conflict, the BJP pays no heed to the sacrifices of our soldiers. The recent incident just reflects BJP nu Chinese prem (BJP’s love for Chinese). Their facade of nationalism is only for the public,” he said.
China: Hot button topic
The Narendra Modi government has banned scores of Chinese apps in moves that have been touted as patriotic. The June 29, 2020 order banning Tiktok, UC Browser and 57 other apps was justified as necessary to “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and Internet users”.
A government press release then said: “There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.” Whilst the press release did not identify any of the apps as ‘Chinese’, it was widely seen as a retaliatory measure to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan, Ladakh — the biggest military confrontation in over five decades, prompting a rise in the anti-China sentiment on India’s streets.