All-party leaders assert they should speak in one voice, but Govt must keep them posted
Days after 20 Indian jawans were killed by the Chinese soldiers in an ambush at Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh on the intervening night of June 15-16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told an all-party meeting that Chinese army neither entered the Indian territory nor any of “our posts has been taken over by them on the Indian side.” The meeting was called to discuss India-China stand-off on the line of Actual Control (LAC),
“Neither have they intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them (China). Twenty of our jawans were martyred, but those who dared Bharat Mata, they were taught a lesson,” said the PM in the virtual meet with around 20 political parties.
Modi said no one can take even an “inch of the land”.
“Today, we possess the capability that no one can eye even one inch of our land. India’s Armed forces have the capability to move into multiple sectors at one go,” announced the Prime Minister.
The important interaction was an attempt by the PM to evolve a national consensus on political, economic and military response by India after the violent incident at Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh.
Modi said Indian Armed forces are doing what they have to do to protect the country, whether it is deployment, action or counter-action.
Incidentally, while the PM said no intrusion took place inside the India territory, External Affair Minister S Jaishankar said on June 17 that, “Ground commanders were meeting regularly to implement this consensus throughout the last week. While there was some progress, the Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan Valley on our side of the LAC. While this became a source of dispute, the Chinese side took pre-meditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties. It reflected an intent to change the facts on the ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo.”
It was obvious that Chinese jawans had entered the Indian side of the LAC and tried to raise a structure.
It’s also not clear if there was no intrusion by the Chinese why the two armies were face-to-face for nearly two months. After the PM spoke, several military experts have asked if “everything was so smooth and no incursion took place, then why did we lose 20 of our jawans.”
Modi was chairing an all-party meet to discuss the volatile India-China border situation as the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh earlier denied intelligence failure in the border face-off as Opposition raised the question while extending full-support to the Modi Government in its response to the Chinse intrusions on the border.
The virtual meeting began with participants standing in two-minute silence to pay tributes to the Indian soldiers who fell in the border face-off. All party leaders said they were one with the Government and should speak in one voice.
The Opposition leaders, however, asked the PM to allow authentic information on the border development to come to them uninterruptedly so that there could be a coordination on the sensitive issue of national importance.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi whose party had been, for last one week, throwing several questions at the Modi Government on the border escalation said the nation needs assurance of restoration of status quo on the India-China border.
Posing several questions, Sonia enquired whether the military intelligence alerted the Government about the intrusion and the build-up of Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control.
“Did our external intelligence agencies not report any unusual activity along the LAC? Did the Military Intelligence not alert the Government about the intrusion and the build-up of massive forces along the LAC? In the Government’s considered view, was there a failure of intelligence?”, Sonia asked the Government at the all-party meeting.
She also sought to enquire from the Government the roadmap ahead and stressed that the entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert back to the original position on the LAC.
In the meeting NCP Chief and Former Defence Minister Sharad Pawar said issues of whether soldiers carried arms or not are decided by international agreements and we need to respect such sensitive matters.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said, “Don’t let China enter telecom, railway and aviation sectors. We will face some problems but we won’t allow the Chinese to enter.”
While backing defence forces ,Mamata wanted the Government to be “transparent” and maintain “flow of information” on the issue to the Opposition parties.
Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav said, “Nation is one. ‘Neeyat’ of Pakistan and China is not good. India will not be China’s dumping ground. He demanded imposing “300 per cent duty on Chinese goods.”
Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray said India wants peace but that doesn’t mean we are weak. “China’s nature is betrayal. India is ‘Mazboot’ not ‘Majboor’. Our Government has the ability to – ‘Aankhien Nikalkar Haath Me de dena’…We are all one. This is the feeling. We are with you, PM. We are with our forces and their families,” he said.
It is understood that Maharashra CM wanted clarity on the Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in India following the border row as the State has recently cleared a Chinese company’s investment in the State.
The meeting started with the presentation by Rajnath Singh who detailed armed preparedness on the India-China border and mobilisation in a presentation which was followed by Jaishankar briefing political leaders on the diplomatic efforts in the light of the border skirmishes.
Defence Minister Singh had said Indian soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army. He denied any intelligence failure when Opposition parties sought him to ask on the alleged intrusion of China on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control.
Presidents of various political parties, including the BJP, Congress, TMC, AIADMK, DMK, TRS, JD(U), BJD, LJP, BSP, SP, Shiv Sena and NCP among others, participated in the meet.
Former Prime Minister and JDS president HD Dewe Gowda and DMK leader MK Stalin were also in the meet. Uddhav, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, TRS leader and Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao, YSR Congress Party’s leader and Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Mamata were among other top leaders who attended the important meet.
A row erupted as why AAP and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and RJD leaders were not invited to the meeting while Government apparently sought to explain that invitation was extended to those parties having a minimum of five MPs in the Lok Sabha. Though Kejriwal whose party has four MPs did not express his annoyance and expressed solidarity with the Government, the RJD with five MPs said it want answer from Rajnath for not inviting the party .
Parties with lesser MPs in the Lok Sabha than RJD and AAP were given the opportunity to interact with the PM on the border escalation with China included TDP (four MPs), CPI (three) and JMM (1). There are 37 political parties in the Lok Sabha of which around 20 parties were invited for the important interaction.
Appreciating Modi’s decision to call for an all-party meeting, Dewe Gowda suggested that a senior serving military officer and a senior serving diplomat should make a detailed presentation to Opposition leaders on the ground situation and the progress of talks.
BJD ‘s Pinaki Misra said Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s appeal to all parties is not to indulge in a blame game at this point. We must be in lockstep with the Government, the entire country needs to talk in one voice.
Nitish said there was nationwide anger against China. “There should be no differences among us. We are together. Parties should not show any disunity that can be explored by other nations. China’s stand on India is known. India wanted to give respect to China. But what did China do in 1962,” he said.
Saturday, 20 June 2020 | Deepak K Upreti / Sunil Kumar | New Delhi
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