A new book by former Lok Sabha secretary general P D T Achary — Resurgent India: Glimpses of Rajiv Gandhi’s Vision of India — released Wednesday by Vice-President Hamid Ansari reveals glimpses of “enigmatic behaviour” of China vis- a-vis India as he recollects two rather unpleasant experiences that Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and her predecessor Somnath Chatterjee had to face from the Chinese. The book also talks about Rajiv’s China initiative — his decision to visit that country overruling the Cabinet view in 1988.
He recalls the Foreign Ministry advised him to visit China to demonstrate New Delhi’s earnestness about a solution to the border problem. The armed forces, on the other hand, proposed a “forward policy” which Rajiv accepted after which forces moved to defend Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
With China responding and deciding to send its army to the Kameng division of Arunachal, Achary recalls that the then PM reviewed the situation and asked the Army to move back to its original position although the Indian Army was well-trained and well-equipped to deal with a Chinese response. Then came Rajiv’s political initiative. There was a Chinese proposal for a summit meeting. Achary says Rajiv’s decision to go to China “was a momentous decision”.
Chatterjee led a parliamentary delegation to China in 2007 on the invitation of the Speaker of the China’s National Assembly. Achary recalls the first leg to their visit went well. The delegation was in for surprise when it reached Shanghai where the highlight was the meeting with the Mayor at his office. But the Mayor did not turn up even after half an hour and the delegation wanted to leave. Achary recalls that the “official driver of the Chinese car assigned to the Speaker refused to drive him back to hotel being under instruction not to do so without the delegation meeting the Mayor after which a senior officer from the Indian Embassy offered his car to Chatterjee”.
In the second instance, he recalls Kumar’s experience at a breakfast hosted by her Chinese counterpart for Speakers from a few countries. “The seating arrangement was quite intriguing… India’s seat was in an obscure corner. Seats on either side of the Chinese Speaker were allotted to Pakistan.”