Opposition steps up pressure on govt to scrutinise China border issue3 min read . Updated: 22 Oct 2020, 10:57 AM IST
- Public Accounts Committee members are set to visit Ladakh for two days in November to get a first hand experience of the problems being faced by soldiers of the Indian Army
- PAC members are visiting Ladakh after the commmittee took up a CAG report on defence preparedness
NEW DELHI: The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is facing pressure from the opposition in different parliamentary committees over the ongoing border standoff with China in Ladakh. Opposition parties are demanding greater scrutiny of the steps taken by the Union government to resolve the border crisis.
After demanding a detailed discussion on the standoff in the parliamentary committees including one on defence, members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are now preparing to visit Ladakh for two days in November to get a first hand experience of the problems being faced by soldiers of the Indian Army.
“The chairman of the PAC, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, has proposed this visit to the defence ministry and it has been accepted. The earlier plan was to go for two days on 28-29 October but it got delayed because of Bihar elections and it is now being planned for the first week of November. The idea is to visit the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) office centre in Ladakh and also get briefing from senior officials of defence on the standoff," said a person in the know of development.
Members of the PAC point out that the recent scrutiny over Union government’s preparedness against the standoff with China started after the PAC took up a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the preparedness of defence forces, especially availability of ration and winter clothing at heights.
“The CAG report had suggested lack of winter clothing and that is the trigger for the visit. Although members of the defence establishment have already made it clear that the army and all the other forces of defence are well equipped and prepared against China but the PAC members decided to visit and see these preparations first hand," said the person quoted above.
During a meeting of the PAC, representatives of the defence ministry and senior officials of the Army had categorically stated that Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) were well prepared for the standoff and there was no question of lack of preparedness against any eventuality.
“The Union government has already given an assurance to PAC that they will not lose an inch of land to China and would probably be able to make China understand the importance of maintaining the sanctity of line of actual control (LAC)," said a person familiar with the development.
Members of the Congress led opposition along with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), have been keen that the PAC members visit Ladakh, especially after both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Rajnath Singh have already visited Ladakh.
“We will not be visiting border areas or forward areas; the visit will be limited to Leh and adjoining areas. This visit would not be about meeting soldiers at the forward places or visit area where the standoff is actually taking place," the person in the know of development said.
Apart from the PAC, opposition members in the parliamentary standing committee on defence too have been demanding that different aspects of the China border standoff and the current status should be discussed in detail. On Wednesday, the issue came up again as the committee had held a meeting for choosing of subjects for the next year since it got reconstituted last month.
“The China discussion has been pending in the defence committee for very long. We were told verbally more than a month ago that the issue will be taken up but that never happened. The committees then got reconstituted and we are still waiting. This is a significant issue and there must be a detailed discussion on all its aspects. We do not know why this is being avoided," another person aware of developments said requesting anonymity.
In the meeting on Wednesday, members from key opposition parties including Congress and Shiv Sena demanded that there should be clarity on when the issue will be taken up for discussion in the committee which is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jual Oram. According to the person quoted above, during one of the earlier committee meetings, two key opposition leaders including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi too had highlighted the need for raising of the issue.