Govt calls for talks with opposition on China standoff, Kashmir
New Delhi: In a bid to build a political consensus on the continuing standoff with China, home minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj have called an urgent meeting with opposition leaders on Friday ahead of the start of Parliament’s monsoon session.
“Other than the standoff with China near the Sikkim border, the Opposition will also be briefed on the Amarnath Yatra attack. They will be apprised of the steps taken by the government in both fronts,” a senior home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
China and India have been engaged in a standoff in Doka La, in the tri-junction with Bhutan, for several days after a Chinese army construction party attempted to build a road in the region. Tensions have been high after the heightening of rhetoric from the Chinese side with state-run media calling for India to be taught a lesson over what Beijing has termed Indian incursions into Chinese territory.
The Indian Army moved 2,500 troops to the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh on 11 July.
“India will not back down and we are ready to face any eventuality that comes our way,” a senior army official said on condition of anonymity.
The India-China standoff became a point of political contention when, earlier this week, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Confirming that he had met the Chinese envoy, Gandhi said in a series of tweets, “It is my job to be informed on critical issues. I met the Chinese Ambassador, Ex-NSA (national security advisor), Congress leaders from the northeast and the Bhutanese Ambassador.”
With the monsoon session of Parliament set to start on 17 July, the centre is now reaching out to the opposition to preempt any disruption in legislative proceedings over the two issues that will figure at Friday’s meeting.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala confirmed that the party had received an invitation to attend Friday’s meeting. He didn’t spell out the party’s stance on either issue.
Monday’s attack on Amarnath pilgrims in the Kashmir valley that killed seven and injured 19 prompted an attack on the government by the opposition.
“The government needs to introspect as to why, despite advance intelligence inputs, was there a failure to prevent this attack,” said a collective statement issued on Tuesday by 18 opposition parties led by the Congress.
Rahul Gandhi said on social media that Modi needed “to accept responsibility” for the attack.