Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at the all-party meeting that nobody had entered Indian territory triggered a political firestorm on Saturday with the Opposition asking whether he had “surrendered” Indian territory to China.
The Congress asked the government to immediately clarify its position on China’s claim to the entire Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
“PM has surrendered Indian territory to Chinese aggression. If the land was Chinese: why were our soldiers killed? Where were they killed,” senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
“China has now claimed the entire Galwan Valley as theirs… the Chinese are present in the Galwan Valley. The Prime Minister says there are no Chinese troops in Indian territory. Keep the two statements next to each other, the conclusion is horrifying,” senior party leader P Chidambaram said.
“Before we spell out those horrible conclusions, I would ask the government to answer China’s claim today and not wait until tomorrow… so that our position is made clear,” he said.
Saying that Modi’s remarks had “left all of us confused and concerned” about the thinking in the government, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said it amounts to “over-simplification” and “denial of the gravity” of the situation.
Other Opposition parties also questioned Modi’s remarks. “The nation stands with the government against Chinese incursions. But was the incident in which our soldiers were martyred an incursion? If not, then why did the MEA ask for status quo ante? Is the Galwan Valley Indian or not? We do not need clarifications. We need the truth,” said Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav.
“Whatever the government may say, the reality is that China has occupied some of our territory,” SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said at the all-party meeting on Friday.
“Mr Modi should first make up his mind and then speak, unless his attempt was to mislead all the political parties and weaken our position in diplomatic talks,” said CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury.
CPI leader D Raja asked how Modi could be so “ambivalent” on such a sensitive issue. “The leaders were misled in a way. Whether today’s clarification was correct or yesterday’s statement was correct…nobody knows,” he said.
“The PM’s statement is away from reality. In his presentation, the Foreign Minister highlighted the intrusion. How can he (PM) make such an asatya bhashan (false speech). He should not indulge in jumlebaazi on border-related issues,” said a leader who participated in the all-party meeting.
Rejecting the government’s clarification, the Congress called it a “lame attempt to obfuscate the truth.”
“Is Galwan Valley not part of Indian territory? Why is the government not coming forward and strongly rebutting the Chinese claim over Galwan Valley? If Chinese troops are present there, does it not amount to intrusion into and occupation of Indian territory? Also, why is the government silent on intrusions in the Pangong Tso area,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Addressing a press conference, Chidambaram said: “PM’s statement clearly runs counter to what the Army chief said, runs counter to what the Defence Minister said — that the Chinese, in large numbers, have entered India – and clearly contradicts what the Foreign Minister said, that we want restoration of status quo ante.”
Asking if Modi had “given a clean chit to China”, he said: “If no Chinese troops crossed the LAC… what was the ‘face-off’ on May 5-6? Between May 5 and June 6, what was the issue on which local Indian commanders were talking to their Chinese counterparts? What was the subject matter of the negotiations between the Corps Commanders of the two countries on June 6?…If no Chinese troops were inside Indian territory, where did the clashes take place on June 15-16? Where were 20 Indian soldiers killed and 85 injured.”
“If no Chinese troops are in Indian territory, why did Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s statement and other MEA statements demand the ‘restoration of status quo ante’? What was the meaning of ‘status quo ante’ What was the meaning of the ‘disengagement’ that the government said was ‘underway’? If no Chinese troops are inside Indian territory in Ladakh, why did 20 soldiers have to make the supreme sacrifice,” he said.
Referring to Modi’s earlier statement that the deaths of 20 soldiers would not go in vain, he said: “What did he have in mind? Why and where did the soldiers sacrifice their lives, and how will the government ensure that their sacrifice will not be in vain?”
“The clarification issued on behalf of the PM says: China’s structures were across the LAC. The MEA statement had said: China’s structures were on our side of the LAC. Will the PMO now issue a clarification on the clarification to enlighten the nation on the situation,” said senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
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