‘Don’t need UN to lecture us on fair polls’

Jaishankar’s comments came in response to a query regarding a spokesperson for UN Secretary General statement that they “hope” that in India, people’s “political and civil rights” were protected…reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday dismissed a senior UN official’s recent remark on elections in India, saying that he does not need the global body to tell that the elections in the country should be “free and fair”.

His comments came in response to a query regarding a spokesperson for UN Secretary General statement that they “hope” that in India, people’s “political and civil rights” were protected and everyone is able to vote in a “free and fair” atmosphere.

Jaishankar, who was in Thiruvananthapuram to campaign for his ministerial colleague and BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the Lok Sabha polls, also said that the UN official made the comment on the Indian elections last week in response to a “very loaded question” during a press briefing at the UN.

“I don’t need the United Nations to tell me our elections should be free & fair. I have the people of India. The people of India will ensure that elections are free & fair. So, don’t worry about it,” the minister told reporters during an interaction here.

Last week, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric was asked about the “political unrest” in India ahead of the upcoming national elections in the wake of the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the freezing of the opposition Congress Party’s bank accounts.

“What we very much hope that in India, as in any country that is having elections, that everyone’s rights are protected, including political and civil rights, and everyone is able to vote in an atmosphere that is free and fair,” Dujarric had said.

Earlier, Mathew Miller, the US department of state spokesperson, was put on the spot during a press briefing on Wednesday when a journalist questioned him on the country taking a stand on the arrest of Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal but not doing the same on arrests of Pakistani opposition leaders.

At a press briefing, the journalist said the US department of state issued daily statements on the arrest of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the freezing of assets of the Congress party. He questioned why the US has such a strong stance for Indian opposition, but maintained its silence on the political prisoners in Pakistan.

Mathew Miller refused to categorise both cases into one and said that the US wanted to see everyone in Pakistan treated with consistent rule of law and human rights.

Miller said, “I would not agree with that characterisation. We have made clear on a number of occasions that we want to see everyone in Pakistan treated consistent with the rule of law, treated with respect for human rights, as is our position with respect to any country in the world.”

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21 in connection with the Delhi excise policy case. He is currently lodged in Tihar Jail, his judicial custody is expected to end on April 15.

On Tuesday, responding to the US, Germany and the UN remarks over Indian politics, after Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest, external affairs minister S Jaishankar used the word “Maryada”, saying that “we are sovereign countries and should not be interfering in each other’s internal affairs”.

“These are old habits. These are bad habits…The word I use is ‘Maryada’ among countries, we are sovereign countries. We should not be interfering in each other’s internal affairs. We should not be passing comments about each other’s politics,” Jaishankar said at a press conference.

Stating that other countries don’t hold a right to comment on India’s politics, the external affairs minister said, “Because once, if this becomes a rule, where do you stop? So we have been, in the cases where it has happened, we have told the diplomats of that country very clearly that we take very strong objection to it.”

New Delhi had earlier lodged a strong protest against Washington’s “closely monitoring” remark on the arrest of Kejriwal.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had summoned the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Gloria Berbena to its office in South Block in Delhi. The meeting lasted for more than 30 minutes.

The MEA later in a statement said, “We take strong objection to the remarks of the Spokesperson of the US State Department about certain legal proceedings in India.”

“In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others. This responsibility is even more so in the case of fellow democracies. It could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents,” the statement said.

India’s legal processes are based on “an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes,” the MEA said while underlining that “casting aspersions on that was unwarranted”.

India on Saturday (March 23) summoned the German deputy chief of mission in Delhi and lodged a strong protest against that country’s foreign ministry’s remarks on the arrest of Kejriwal.

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Kejriwal in a money laundering case linked to the now scrapped liquor policy case.

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