External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took a veiled dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that there are "sometimes things bigger than politics when one step outside the country."
The EAM was hitting out at Gandhi for his statement that Prime Minister Modi was a "specimen."
Speaking at a diaspora event in Cape Town after attending the meeting of BRICS foreign ministers, Jaishankar said that he can talk for himself and does not do politics while travelling abroad. His response came after a member of the Indian community, without naming Rahul Gandhi, asked Jaishankar what he would like to say about remarks made by "someone" in the US.
"Look, I said I can only talk for myself I try when I go abroad not to do politics." "I'm perfectly prepared to argue and argue very vigorously at home. Okay, so you will never find me wanting in that regard," he said in response to a question.
"But I think you know, even a democratic culture has a certain collective responsibility. There is a national interest there is a collective image. There are sometimes things bigger than politics and when you step outside the country, I think that's important to remember.
"So I might differ strongly with someone. I could say to you, I differ with them. But how I counter it, I would like to go back home and do it. And watch me when I get back," India's top diplomat said.
The EAM went on to stress that one part of the Indian foreign policy today was to ensure the welfare of Indian citizens abroad, especially during difficult situations.
"Sometimes they can be very country-specific. We had a few weeks ago, very nasty situation in Sudan, and we have 5,000 Indians died last year, when the fighting started in Ukraine. We had more than 20,000 Indians now. In fact, when I look at these last nine years, almost every year, we've had one situation somewhere.
"So, it's something which will keep happening. And we have that fundamental obligation today to take care of Indian Indians. Working, living, travelling abroad," he said.
"It could be something like providing a flight, it could even be sometimes there are people who are stuck abroad, who have no money who are stuck in cases, they can't afford it. You know, we, unfortunately, have cases sometimes that people will pass away," he added.