Rajat Sharma

Sonia Gandhi should look at what her Defence Minister had said on Chinese incursions in 2013

AKB2610At the all-party meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an emphatic remark. He said, “no intruder is present inside India’s borders, nor is any post under anyone’s custody”. On the Monday night clash in Galwan valley, the Prime Minister said, “our 20 soldiers attained martyrdom in Ladakh but they taught a lesson to those who tried to intimidate our motherland….Today we have the capability so that none can dare to look towards us with ill intention”.

Almost all opposition leaders, barring Congress President Sonia Gandhi, offered strong support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress president raised several questions relating to Chinese incursions in Ladakh and sought the Prime Minister’s reply. However, senior leaders like NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, and YSR Congress chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy said this was not the time to raise such issues and all political parties should present a united face to counter Chinese aggression.

The questions that Sonia Gandhi raised were: “On which date did the Chinese troops intrude into our territory in Ladakh? When did the government find out about the Chinese transgressions into our territory? Was it on May 5th, as reported, or earlier? Does the government not receive, on a regular basis, satellite pictures of the borders of our country? Did our external intelligence agencies not report any unusual activity along the LAC? Did the Military Intelligence not alert the government about the intrusion and the build-up of massive forces along the LAC, whether on the Chinese side or on the Indian side? In the government’s considered view, was there a failure of intelligence?”

The questions raised by Congress president made other opposition leaders uncomfortable. Most of them said, this was not the time and place for politicizing such an issue.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, it was not proper to ask whether our jawans were unarmed or not. “We should avoid such matters now as this is not the right time.” Pawar is a senior opposition leader and former Defence Minister and he knows what he is saying. He knows the intricacies of how the armed forces work.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said, we have a strong leadership at the Centre and if any enemy country dares to browbeat us, we have the capacity “to gouge out their eyes”, and China must understand this.

Mamata Banerjee, known for her strident anti-Modi postures, too, said all parties must sink their political differences and support the Centre on whatever steps are taken to counter Chinese incursions. “We must chase the Chinese out of our territory and also end Chinese domination in our economy, whether railway, aviation, or telecom.

Even the DMK, a known pro-Congress ally, openly supported the Centre over the Ladakh issue. Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati also offered support to any decisions taken by the Centre to counter the challenge from China.

The Prime Minister replied emphatically to each question raised by Sonia Gandhi. He said, India has told China clearly that we want peace, but China must also know that India knows how to defend its territory.

Modi said, such a situation arose because earlier nobody used to question Chinese transgressions on the LAC, but now we have strengthened our infrastructure and have increased patrolling. It is because of these crucial steps that we detect transgressions by Chinese troops easily, and it is because of this China seems to be worried.

Let me tell you why Modi said that Chinese transgressions on LAC were not questioned in the past. In 2013, during the UPA rule, the then Defence Minister A. K. Antony had said, it is a historical truth that we did not create infrastructure on the border since independence. He said, the policy at that time was to leave the border area undeveloped, as this was much safer than a border with developed roads. It was because of this policy that airfields and roads were not built near the LAC.

It was Antony as Defence Minister, who had said in 2013 during UPA rule in Lok Sabha that China was far ahead of India in matters of infrastructure and capability. The result was: Chinese troops carried out incursions in Ladakh, and for 21 days, we had to literally beg the Chinese to withdraw.

This is not the case now. Modi said on Friday that we have strengthened our border road infrastructure near LAC and this was now yielding dividends. Patrolling by Indian troops has become easier. It was because of our patrolling that our troops came to know about Chinese incursions in Galwan valley and other areas. Now the Chinese aggressors are being stopped and their commanders are being questioned about violation of the sanctity of LAC.

I would not have mentioned Antony’s remarks in 2013, had not Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi raised questions about LAC. They should remember that it was their government at that time and their Defence Minister was making such remarks in Parliament.

And what do we have today? We have a confident, decisive Prime Minister at the helm. The Prime Minister is saying that India will repay in their own coin if any country meddles with our territorial integrity. The nation is proud of our brave and valiant jawans and their officers. Our defence forces have the capability to face the enemy. This is quite evident on the ground. On Friday, fighter jets and attack helicopters carried out many sorties near the LAC, keeping a hawk’s eye on Chinese troop movement.

China has now clearly realized that this is not the old India. This new India has a strong, decisive leader Narendra Modi, who had earned respect among world statesmen, and has enhanced India’s image in the international arena. China now understands that the entire political fraternity stands solidly behind its Prime Minister.

On the other hand, China has rogue nations like North Korea and Pakistan as allies. The world’s most powerful democracy,the United States, stands solidly with the world’s most populous democracy, India. China failed to get support in the UN Security Council, when it tried to raise the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

India’s overall attitude has now changed. India has changed the manner in which it used to deal with China. Modi’s India has shown how our jawans can act if they are attacked treacherously by the Chinese. Modi’s India has shown how it can carry out surgical strikes and bomb Balakot inside Pakistan, if terrorists blow up our CRPF vehicle.

Modi tried his best to extend his hand of friendship towards China, like he did with Pakistan. But the whole world now knows how devious the Chinese are. The world knows, how China spread the deadly Coronavirus across the world. The world knows how China manipulated COVID statistics and the WHO. Countries like Japan and the US are today giving incentives to their companies to come out of China. The same voices are now being heard in India, and the “boycott Chinese goods” movement is gaining pace.

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