At the weekly BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday morning, commerce minister Piyush Goyal spoke at length on how RCEP would have ‘harmed the country’s economic interests’. He made the point that India objected to 70 issues in RCEP linked to agricultural and dairy products. Goyal said that the UPA government was willing to make India a part of RCEP ‘without going into details of how it would impact’ India’s interest. This was checked when Nirmala Sitharaman, as commerce minister in the last government, wrote in an official file India’s interests would be impacted by China and other RCEP members.
Later, external affairs minister S Jaishankar made a presentation on Modi’s recent foreign tours. He referred to the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, attended by US President Donald Trump, and Modi’s address at the United Nations General Assembly. Jaishankar said India thwarted Pakistan’s attempt to raise dilution of Article 370 at international fora and Islamabad stood isolated.
A BJP source said that the presentations were to educate MPs on why India took the stand of not joining RCEP and gains Modi’s foreign tours had made. Modi did not attend the meeting due to other engagements. Home minister Amit Shah and senior ministers were present at the meeting moderated by parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi. Concerned about attendance of MPs in standing committee meetings and Parliament, the party directed them to be present in the House and panel meetings.
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