Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has asserted that India cannot be pushed around by China as he underlined that the relationship between the two neighbours is going to be "tough" and not an easy one.
Gandhi, who is in the US for a three-city US tour, made the remarks on Wednesday night in response to a question from Indian students at the Stanford University Campus in California.
"How do you see the India-China relationship evolving in the next 5-10 years?” he was asked.
Gandhi replied, "It's tough right now. I mean, they've occupied some of our territory. It's rough. It's not too easy (a relationship)."
"India cannot be pushed around. That something is not going to happen,” Gandhi said.
India and China are also locked in a lingering border standoff in eastern Ladakh for three years.
The bilateral relationship came under severe strain following the deadly clash in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June 2020.
India has maintained that the bilateral relationship cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border area.
During his interaction at Stanford University, Gandhi supported New Delhi's policy of having its relationship with Russia in the context of the Ukrainian war, despite the pressure it feels from the West.
"We have a relationship with Russia, we have certain dependencies on Russia. So, I would have a similar stance as the Government of India,” Gandhi said in response to a question when asked does he supports India's neutral stance on Russia.
At the end of the day, India has to look for its own interest. India, he said, is a big enough country whereby it generally will have relationships with other countries.
It's not so small and dependent that it will have a relationship with one and nobody else, he added.
"We will always have these types of relationships. We will have better relationships with some people, evolving relationships with other people. So that balance is there,” the former Congress president said.
Supporting a strong relationship between India and the United States, Gandhi underscored the importance of manufacturing and both countries collaborating in emerging fields like data and artificial intelligence. Simply focusing on the security and defence aspect of this bilateral relationship is not enough he said.
Gandhi also said that he did not imagine his disqualification from Lok Sabha was possible when he joined politics but asserted that it has given him a "huge opportunity" to serve the people.
The Wayanad (Kerala) Member of Parliament was disqualified from Lok Sabha earlier this year after he was convicted by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark.
In his remarks, Gandhi said that when he joined politics in 2000, he never imagined this is what he would go through. What he sees is going on now is way outside anything that he had thought when he joined politics.
Referring to his disqualification from Lok Sabha as a Member of Parliament, Gandhi, 52, said he didn't imagine that something like this was possible.
"But then I think it's actually given me a huge opportunity. Probably much bigger than the opportunity I would have. That's just the way politics works,” he said.
"I think the drama started really, about six months ago. We were struggling. The entire opposition is struggling in India. Huge financial dominance. Institutional capture. We're struggling to fight the democratic fight in our country,” he said, adding that at this point in time, he decided to go for the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra'.
"I am very clear, our fight is ours fight,” he said. “But there is a group of young students from India here. I want to have a relationship with them and want to talk to them. It's my right to do it,” he said during his interaction with Indian students and academicians of Indian origin at the university.
He also emphasised in his frequent foreign trips like this, he is not seeking support from anybody.
"I don't understand why the prime minister doesn't come here and do it,” Gandhi asked amidst applause from the audience who had packed the entire auditorium at Stanford.
The moderator said that the Prime Minister is welcome to come to Stanford anytime and interact with the students and academicians.
Some of the students were denied entry as the auditorium was packed. Students started queuing up two hours before the event started.
In the last one and a half years, several Indian ministers have interacted with Indian students.