Listing priorities Indian Ambassador in Turkey Sanjay Bhattacharyya said advancing strategic autonomy on diplomatic front and engaging global community to fight terrorism would remain focus areas of the new Indian government, which is likely to take over by the end of May.
India’s emphasis and spelling out the need for strategic autonomy is significant, in the wake of host of actions by the world powers in recent past and more recently, the tensions building between Iran and the U.S., in the region. In diplomatic parlance, strategic autonomy is seen ability of countries to set, modify and enforce international rules, as opposed to [unwillingly] obeying others. Significantly, like Turkey, India has also inked a deal to deploy the S-400 missile system from Russia, thus rattling the U.S.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Bhattacharyya stated that governance, development and security would remain top priority areas of new government. Emphasizing on more cooperation and coordination between Turkey and India, he said both were natural partners in 21st century and also major players in regional and global affairs.
“We see a shift towards multi-polarity and a need for more democracy, development, transparency and rules based system in a reformed global order,” he said.
India recently concluded a mammoth five-week long electoral exercise. The results announced on May 23 witnessed a landslide victory for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bhattacharyya said that over 900 million voters took part in the elections. Asked about the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs) – questioned by opposition parties – the Ambassador said there was no chance to interfere in their mechanism, as they were not linked to any network or outside devices.
In the bitterly fought elections, a ruling party candidate Pragya Singh Thakur, who won election from the central India city of Bhopal had eulogized killer of India’s freedom icon Mahatma Gandhi – revered all over world for his non-violent philosophy. The ambassador said: “The status of Mahatma Gandhi as Father of the Nation and as a moral compass for generations of Indians remains undiminished.”
The just concluded elections saw 27 Muslims winning elections, a dismal proportion as compared to their 180 million population. Bhattacharyya rejected the idea that this number in anyway reflects any discrimination.
“India is a secular country and elections are not contested on communal lines. Separate representation for Hindus and Muslims was followed in colonial times. All Indian citizens enjoy equal opportunity under the Constitution in Independent India,” he clarified.
Regarding a low voting percentage in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir, the ambassador said the region was subjected to intense cross border terrorist attacks from Pakistan. He said despite odds, all mainstream political parties participated in the elections in the region.
On relations with Turkey, Indian ambassador said there was a strong momentum to deepen cooperation between the two countries. “PM Modi and President Erdogan have very good understanding. They will continue their high level exchanges in the second term”.
He said as both leaders have returned to power with strong mandate, there was confidence that bilateral relations will continue to deepen and expand to new horizons.
“Our growing relationship will make us natural partners in 21st century and major players in regional and global issues.”
Maintaining that both countries were coordinating on political and security issues, he said Turkey and India were facing similar challenges in cross border terrorism and thus have a shared responsibility to deal with this menace and strike at the roots of sponsors of terrorism.