Modi’s statement on India-China standoff baffling: Cong

New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that Chinese troops did not intrude into Indian territory, Congress leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday slammed the government saying his remarks have left everyone baffled and bewildered.

He said that the statement of the Prime Minister contradicts earlier statements made by Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Addressing a press conference through video conferencing, Chidambaram said, “I wish to begin by reiterating what the Congress President Sonia Gandhi said yesterday at the all party meeting. She said that the Congress stands by our defence forces and are prepared to make any sacrifice to ensure they are battle ready.”

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Chidambaram said that at the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister made his concluding remarks.

“These remarks have left practically everyone baffled and bewildered. The Prime Minister said that no outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh,” the Congress leader said.

Lambasting the Prime Minister, Chidambaram said, “It is quite obvious that the Prime Minister’s statement contradicts the earlier statements made by the Chief of Army Staff, the Defence Minister and the Foreign Minister.”

The Congress leader said that if the Prime Minister’s statement reflects the correct position, we would like to ask the government a few questions.

“If no Chinese troops had crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and are in Indian territory, what was the face-off on May 5-6, 2020? 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 said firing salvos at Modi.

Referring to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan valley by the Chinese People Liberation’s Army (PLA) troops in an unprecedented attack on Monday night, Chidambaram said, “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?”

His remarks came a day after Modi categorically stated at the all-party meeting on the Chinese intrusion in the Galwan Valley and the killing of Indian soldiers that “no Indian post or territory is occupied by anyone.”

The Prime Minister had emphasized that all necessary steps for national security and construction of necessary infrastructure will continue to be taken at a fast pace.

Modi had also reassured the leaders about the capability of the armed forces to defend the borders and said that they have been given a free hand to take all necessary steps.

Sharpening the attack on the government, the Congress leader said, “If no Chinese troops are in Indian territory, why did Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar’s statement and other statements of MEA 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?”

He also questioned that if no Chinese troops are inside Indian territory in Ladakh, why did 20 soldiers have to make the supreme sacrifice.

The Congress leader said that even after Modi’s statement on Friday, China has blamed India for the clashes and has re-asserted its claim to the entire Galwan valley.

“What is the government’s answer to this claim? Will the government reject this claim?” he questioned.

Chidambaram questioned that when the Prime Minister 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.

He said the defence of the nation and its territorial integrity are dear to the heart of every Indian. “We therefore seek answers to the questions with a view to re-double our commitment and present a picture of unity and solidarity,” Chidambaram added.

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