Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, will visit Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh next month to take stock of the ground situation on the Sino-Indian border, sources said Monday. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of the committee, may also join the visit, the sources said.
The committee resolved to examine the whole gamut of India-China relations, including Doklam, the border situation and cooperation in international organisations last year. This comes days after Rahul Gandhi demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi explain resumed road-construction by the Chinese near the Doklam plateau. The panel has since been briefed on these issues by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other senior officials.
Asked about the composition of the team which would visit the two border states, the sources said all members of the committee were welcome to join, but one had to bear in mind the fact that no meeting of the panel had drawn more than 23 participants.
The sources said they expect a good turnout given the fact that the committee was scheduled to visit places like Tawang. The committee was keen on visiting points where Chinese incursions had taken place. Efforts were on to arrange a helicopter for an aerial view. The MPs may also interact with defence personnel deployed there.
In February, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan cancelled a meeting of the committee in which it was scheduled to examine witnesses that included former Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and former Ambassador G Parthasarathy on the Doklam military build-up by China. Lok Sabha sources claimed that the cancellation followed a request to this effect from several members. Tharoor, on the other hand, described the Speaker’s action as “unprecedented”.