In an attempt to forge a broad political consensus on the situation at the India-China border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday called for an all-party meeting on June 19, Friday. The move comes a day after the Army disclosed that 20 military personnel, including a colonel-rank officer, were killed in the worst flare-up on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in nearly five decades.
The decision to call an all-party meeting comes after protracted discussions at top-level last night and this morning. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had met the prime minister late Tuesday night where they were said to have been joined by Home Minister Amit Shah, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Follow India-China border news LIVE UPDATES
The BJP-led NDA government has come under severe criticism from the Opposition for not taking them as well as the country into confidence on the developments in Ladakh. Several opposition leaders have questioned the silence of PM Modi and Rajnath Singh on such a serious confrontation with China.
Leading the charge was senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. “Why is the PM silent? Why is he hiding? Enough is enough. We need to know what has happened. How dare China kill our soldiers? How dare they take our land?” he tweeted this morning.
He then put out a video asking the prime minister to tell the truth to the nation. “Two days ago, 20 Indian soldiers were martyred…China has snatched India’s soil…they have occupied Indian territory. Why are you silent Prime Minister? Where are you hiding? Come out. The entire country…we all…are with you. The entire country is standing with you. Come and tell the truth to the nation. Don’t be scared,” he said.
The government would hope to forge a bipartisan consensus on the standoff with China and ensure that parties cutting across the political spectrum speak in one voice.
The violent faceoff in Galwan Valley is unprecedented in nature and has huge strategic and diplomatic implications. The government, many in the Opposition believes, would want a greater political consensus if it plans to move ahead to meet the challenge in the present and future.
The criticism by the Opposition so far has been confined to the lack of communication on part of the government. Sources in the Congress, however, said the government will have to explain how the situation has led to such a pass. A section of the Congress leaders believe the government should now try to galvanise international support to expose China.