While the BJP has slammed Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for raising questions on the killing of 20 soldiers in Ladakh, with party president J P Nadda accusing the Congress of being an “irresponsible” opposition party and its leaders of trying to “demoralise” the nation and the soldiers and Home Minister Amit Shah asking Rahul to rise above “petty politics”, as an opposition party during the UPA years, the saffron party had tried to corner the government several times on similar issues.
Between 2004 and 2014, the BJP had issued political resolutions, sought a white paper, sent its own delegation to the border, and held several press conferences criticising the then Manmohan Singh government.
An analysis of press releases issued by BJP in these years, available on the party’s official website, shows that it had issued almost two dozen statements on China, cautioning the then government many a times and seeking explanations.
In its June 2013 Panaji national executive meeting, for instance, the BJP passed a separate resolution on “Suraksha and Swabhiman”, which stated: “Our fishermen are being captured and killed in southern seas, our soldiers are beheaded and mutilated on our northern borders, our boundaries are violated at will umpteen times on Indo-China borders. The latest being, the incursion by Chinese troops almost 19 km inside Indian territory and holding its position for nearly a month. India is being dishonoured, trivialised and its legitimate authority questioned. Our government at the Centre, at best, is only offering platitudes to its citizens.”
In its June 2009 political resolution, passed at the national executive in Parliament Annexe, the party wanted the government to take China’s move on raising claim over Arunachal Pradesh at international forum to be “treated with utmost seriousness.” It said: “There are fresh reports of Chinese incursions on the border areas near Ladakh. The BJP demands that the Government must take the nation into confidence about the real situation. “
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, then a BJP spokesperson, had issued a statement on September 18, 2009, stating that Chinese incursions had shown a “very disturbing and ominous rise”. Pointing out that there had been 233 incursions in 2008, which not only included violation of LAC but also uncalled for entry much inside Indian territory, Prasad wanted the then UPA government to issue a white paper “on the entire ramifications of Indo-China relationship, including improvement and strengthening of the infrastructure of our preparedness at the borders”.
He had said, “The cumulative signal is indeed ominous and disturbing and yet the whole attitude of the Government is one of callous negligence. Why is there deliberate attempt to downplay it? What is the current nature of relationship? Why this drift and confusion? Is the Government finding itself not capable of handling this drift,” Prasad asked.
On October 14 the same year, Prasad again raised the issue and said, “…the BJP is dismayed to notice the almost apologetic tone and tenor of the response of the External Affairs Minister; which raises serious doubt in the minds of the people of the country about the Government’s will and capability to safeguard territorial integrity of the country.”
Prasad who alleged that the UPA government was “almost bending backward to deliberately downplay” the “increasing pressure by China” at the borders, asked then PM Singh to convene an all-party meeting to “have wider consultations and consensus on the entire design of China, the nature of our relationship and the kind of response which is required to be given.”
As the then main opposition, the BJP had sent party delegations to the borders to get first-hand information on Chinese incursions. A delegation led by Bhagat Singh Koshiyari (now Maharashtra Governor) constituted by then party choef Nitin Gadkari had “investigated and compiled a dossier on the reported incursions by the Chinese PLA on Indian soil.”
Briefing the media, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who was part of the delegation, said the UPA government had failed to protect or defend the borders. “BJP fails to understand why the Indian government has to be shy and timid about the whole affairs,” he said.
The BJP website carries several statements on Chinese incursions and other border-related issues raised by Tarun Vijay, a party spokesperson. On September 3, 2012, seeking a clarification from the government, Vijay said: “Chinese Army Personnel have also forced development work stopped in border village Koyul in Leh. The surprising silence of Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence in this regard is mysterious.”
According to the website, in September 2013 , in the “wake of Chinese incursion in various border areas of Ladakh and Uttarakhand”, then party president Rajnath Singh had delegated a Vijay-led group of BJP leaders to study the situation and submit a report.
While the BJP has unleashed an aggressive campaign against Sonia Gandhi’s visit to China and Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with a Chinese delegation, according to the BJP website, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan called on then BJP chief, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on October 16, 2009, for an hour-long meeting. In that meeting, Singh had said that “recent incidences have dented the confidence of Sino-India relationship”
In August 2010, a seven-member delegation from China led by Ai Ping, Vice Minister, International Department of Central Committee of CPC, visited then party president Nitin Gadkari. Gadkari had visited China on CPC’s invitation in January 2011.
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