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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Meeting of House panel: Rahul Gandhi seeks discussion on China, Afghanistan; chairman declines

Rahul left the meeting before it concluded, leading to speculation that he had walked out of it.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 15, 2021 7:40:17 am
"There are many people who are not scared, but are outside the Congress. All these people are ours. Bring them in, and those scared within our party should be shunted out," he told the social media workers. (File Photo)

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday demanded a discussion on the border tension with China, the volatile situation developing in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US-led forces from that country and national security issues vis a vis Pakistan at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, it was learnt.

His plea was, however, rejected by chairman Jual Oram, who said that these issues were not part of the pre-decided agenda of the meeting, it was learnt.

Rahul left the meeting before it concluded, leading to speculation that he had walked out of it.

He found support from opposition members like BSP’s Kunwar Danish Ali.

The agenda of the meeting was a review of the working of various Cantonment Boards. The committee was to be briefed by representatives of the Ministry of Defence on the subject.

Halfway through the meeting, Rahul, it is learnt, said the committee rather than discussing the functioning of Cantonment Boards should deliberate on more important issues. He wanted the members to be briefed about developments in India’s neighbourhood and its impact on the country as also the border standoff with China, the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s capture of many cities and national security issues in the context of Pakistan.

Oram, it is learnt, told him that the agenda of the meeting was decided in advance and circulated to the members. The issues Rahul wanted to discuss were not part of the agenda, he is learnt to have said. He pointed out that if any member wants a discussion on any subject, he or she should give a notice identifying the topic 14 days in advance. Oram is from the BJP.

Ali, it is learnt, suggested that while the members are interested in discussing issues related to Cantonment Boards, the panel must revive its plan to visit the border areas in Ladakh.

Rahul had been critical of the government’s foreign policy trajectory as also its handling of the border standoff with China. Referring to a media report, he had earlier in the day tweeted that the Narendra Modi government’s “use of foreign and defence policy as a domestic political tool has weakened our country” and that “India has never been this vulnerable”.

Later, the Congress at a meeting of its parliamentary strategy group decided to raise the issue of border tension with China in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament.

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