India had dismissed China's claim of sovereignty over the Galwan Valley, saying such "exaggerated" and "untenable" claims are contrary to the understanding reached during a high-level military dialogue on June 6.
The Congress on Saturday asked the government to immediately clarify its position on China’s claim to the entire Galwan Valley in Ladakh, saying any delay in rejecting Beijing’s stand would have “terrible consequences”. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that no outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh, had practically left everyone “baffled and bewildered”.
He said even after the prime minister’s statement on Friday, China had blamed India for the clashes that left 20 Indian Army personnel dead and had reasserted its claim on the entire Galwan Valley. “What is the government’s answer to this claim? Now that China is claiming the entire Galwan Valley, will the Government of India reject this claim,” he asked.
Demanding answers from the government, he said the BJP forgets that it is the ruling party for the last six years and is accountable for what is happening now. “People can see through these silly defences of BJP and their attempts to evade questions and not give proper answers,” he said.
The Congress leader said if the government does not reject the Chinese claim today on Galwan Valley, “I think it would have terrible consequences”. “Let the Government of India answer China’s claims (on Galwan) today, not wait until tomorrow so that our position is made clear,” he said.
He said the Chinese claim has been consistent with what they have been saying since the last two weeks, “it is the Indian position as articulated by the Prime Minister that has come as a total shock”. He asked the Prime Minister to define what the “Indian territory is”. Chidambaram said it is quite obvious that the PM’s statement contradicts the earlier statements made by the Chief of Army Staff, the Defence Minister and the Foreign Minister.
The Congress leader said if no Chinese troops had crossed the LAC and are in Indian territory, what was the “face-off” for.”Between May 5 and June 6, what was the issue on which local Indian commanders were talking to their Chinese counterparts? What was the subject matter of the negotiations between the Corps Commanders of the two countries on June 6,” he asked, posing a series of questions to the government.
“We would also like to ask, if no Chinese troops were inside Indian territory, where did the clashes take place on June 15-16? Where were 20 Indian soldiers killed and 85 injured?” he also asked. Chidambaram said if no Chinese troops are in Indian territory, why did Foreign Minister S Jaishankar’s statement and other statements of the Ministry of External Affairs demand the “restoration of status quo ante”. “What was the meaning of ‘status quo ante’. What was the meaning of the ‘disengagement’ that the government said was ‘underway’? “If no Chinese troops are inside Indian territory in Ladakh, why did 20 soldiers have to make the supreme sacrifice,” he asked.
The former union minister asked what the prime minister meant when he said a few days ago that the “sacrifice of our soldiers will not go in vain”. “What did he have in mind? Why and where did the soldiers sacrifice their lives, and how will the government ensure that the sacrifice will not be in vain,” he asked.
The prime minister’s office on Saturday called as “mischievous interpretation” the criticism over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at an all-party meeting that no one has entered Indian territory or captured any military post while referring to the Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh.
“The sacrifices of the soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment foiled the attempt of the Chinese side to erect structures and also cleared the attempted transgression at this point of the LAC on that day,” the PMO said. Chidambaram said the Congress is asking these questions while reiterating its total support to the government and India’s defence forces.
The defence of the nation and its territorial integrity are dear to the heart of every Indian, he said, noting that “we seek answers to the questions with a view to re-double our commitment and present a picture of unity and solidarity”.
On the BJP comparing India’s China policy in 1962 to its current stand, the Congress leader said this is an old habit of the BJP as “we were not talking about 1962 but 2020. “We are not living in the past, we are living in the present and have to prepare ourselves for the future,” he said, adding that “we must focus on the present and not talk about the past.”
To a question on calls for boycotting Chinese goods, the former Union finance minister said he does not think it may hurt the Chinese economy. “I don’t think we should bring issues like boycott when we are discussing very grave matters of the defence of India and the defence of the territory of India,” he said.
A day after India trashed the Chinese Army’s claim of sovereignty over the Galwan Valley and asked Beijing to confine its activities to its side of the LAC, China’s foreign ministry on Friday claimed that the Galwan Valley was on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control.
India had dismissed China’s claim of sovereignty over the Galwan Valley, saying such “exaggerated” and “untenable” claims are contrary to the understanding reached during a high-level military dialogue on June 6.