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SOURCE: ANI

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday slammed the anti-India ecosystem calling them the “International Khan Market gang” – an upscale, liberal westernised elites who are disdaining India in an election year, who want to influence the direction of Indian politics to benefit a narrow minority. In an exclusive interview with ANI, Jaishankar stressed that there is a symbiotic relationship between Western media and the International Khan Market gang – a kind of elitist left-lib thought process, that picks up from the Indian media or picks up the cues from the Indian political system to demean India.

“In the country today, there is a certain thought process, or entitlement process for which the metaphor of ‘Khan Market Gang’ is a very good description. I want to tell you there is an international Khan Market Gang as well,” said Jaishankar. “These are people who are sort of linked, you know, to the entitled people out here.

They are socially comfortable with them. They know them. They feel like they advance similar viewpoints. They are essentially a kind of an elitist left-lib thought process. So there’s a symbiotic relationship between the two,” he told ANI. Taking a swipe at the anti-India ecosystem over their ‘negative’ portrayal of India, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that these groupings had even endorsed political parties in India.

“When the sales are down in the domestic Khan Market, the International Khan Market gang feels like, I need to pep up these guys and give them support and you can actually see which stories they play up, how do they slant things and in previous elections perhaps even in this one they’ve actually openly endorsed parties and will openly endorse leaders and openly said that this party or this leader is bad for India,” EAM Jaishankar said. The EAM said that this amounted to election influencing and an attempt to sway the voter.

“I believe it is election influence certainly…And it’s not just them, you know, there’s a… See, it’s a… press, university, think tank, and in some cases maybe some degree of officialdom at some kind of medium level because the guys up there are very smart. They don’t get into this. So there is a very clear attempt being made, a very persistent attempt being made to actually influence the direction of Indian politics and the choices of the Indian voter,” he said. Jaishankar added, “It peaks at election time and continues even after that.

They’re all an attempt to demoralize you, delegitimize you to kind of shape, you know, all these things are wrong with India because India is going to give them a result they don’t like.” Slamming the Western media, Jaishankar said, “…It’s difficult to not get influenced because there is a systematic bombardment of information like this, first from the foreign media, then domestic media, then think tanks, then university level conversations, which happens.” EAM further highlighted that during campaigning also, this issue comes up a lot, however, “the Indian public, by and large, recognizes it for what it is,” he said. He further recalled the 26/11 attack and said that the decision to hold back at that time was praised by the Western media as they called it a “mature decision”.

“Let me come to 26/11 and that period when inaction or deliberate inaction was seen as a positive. At that time, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, all saw this as a fantastic decision by the then dispensation, a very mature decision to hold back. And it was appreciated worldwide. When those guys praise you, get worried,” he said. Responding to whether the Ministry of External Affairs got riled up over editorials, Jaishankar denied it saying that it is their job to contest, convince and communicate. “I don’t think we get riled up.

But it is our job to contest, to convince and where necessary to communicate. If somebody, some newspaper or some medium whatever you know has a narrative and that narrative is unfair, if that narrative is untruthful, and we often encounter this, if it is very, very slanted, I do not think we should hesitate to call it out,” he said.

He added that it is not diplomacy to turn the other cheek “It’s weakness. Don’t be confused. Diplomacy is not continuously taking blows from people who mean you ill, you know.” Jaishankar said that diplomacy is to assess the situation and do what is in the interest of your country. Further, the EAM said that when these kinds of narratives are advanced, there is a need to call them out. “I just saw the freedom of press rankings, I mean, I think it’s ridiculous. I mean, can you imagine? Please look through…I tell all the journalists of this country should be outraged that you rank in one year. I mean, not this year, last year, we were ranked below Afghanistan.

Now, I mean, what can I say?” he expressed. Responding to the US State Department’s comments that democracy is under threat in India and the Chief Ministers are being put in jail, Jaishankar said that the law is the law, it goes at its pace and politics goes in its cycle. “In other countries, when politicians have charges against them, what happens? Are they exempt from legal processes? You say, there’s an election coming. So guess what? You are a practising politician. So you are exempt from any legal scrutiny. You don’t have to come to any hearing. There’ll be no charges pressed against you. Do you press the pause button on the law when an election comes up? Is that what other countries do? No, they don’t. The law is the law.

The law goes at its pace. Politics goes in its cycle. From time to time, they could intersect,” he said, EAM added that India is not the only country where this is happening, adding that if anybody has done something that warrants legal proof, there is no way to stop it because of any political compulsion. “We’re not the only country where this is happening. You can see it in other parts of the world as well. So if a Chief Minister or any other…I mean, if anybody has done something which warrants a legal process, There is no way you can stop it because there is a political compulsion to do so,” he said.