Border issue with China can lead to serious situation: Manmohan

Former Prime Minister and Congress leader Manmohan Singh. (File Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, echoing the party view on China in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, said if the matter is not tackled properly it can lead to a serious situation.

Endorsing party chief Sonia Gandhi’s view that the face-off at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh is a full blown crisis, Manmohan Singh said: “The crisis on the border, which if not tackled firmly, can lead to a serious situation.” Former Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who attended the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi briefed the CWC on the border situation.

Manmohan Singh on Monday slammed the Prime Minister on the Chinese transgression accusing him of delivering “disinformation” following Modi’s statement in the all-party meeting and the later clarification by the PMO. Singh said the Prime Minister should know the implication of his words. “The Prime Minister cannot allow them to use his words as a vindication of their position and must ensure that all organs of the Government work together to tackle this crisis and prevent it from escalating further,” said Singh.

Manmohan Singh in his statement on Monday said: “We remind the Government that disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership.” “The truth cannot be suppressed by having pliant allies spout comforting but false statements,” added Manmohan Singh. He was criticising Modi’s statement at the all-party meeting on Friday and later clarification by the PMO on June 15 night’s violent face-off between the Indian and Chinese sides in Galwan Valley that led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer. The PM’s statement was used by the Chinese to get away with their misdeeds.

Before the former Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi also slammed the government saying that we have a “full-blown” crisis on the LAC with China.

Addressing the party leaders, she said, “Chinese troops have committed brazen transgressions into our territory in Pangong Tso Lake area and the Galwan Valley, Ladakh. True to its character, the government is in denial. The intrusion was detected and reported on May 5. Instead of a resolution, the situation deteriorated rapidly and there were violent clashes on June 15-16,” she said, adding that 20 Indian soldiers were martyred, 85 injured and 10 went missing until they were returned.

Hitting out at Modi she said, “The Prime Minister was called out when he announced that no one had intruded into Indian territory in Ladakh.” The Congress leader said that on matters of national security and territorial integrity, the nation has always stood together and this time too, there is no second opinion. “The Congress Party was the first to offer its total support to the Armed Forces and the government. However, there is a growing feeling among the people that the government has gravely mishandled the situation,” she said.

Sonia added that the future is yet to “unfold” but we hope that “mature diplomacy” and “decisive leadership” will inform the government’s actions in protecting our territorial integrity. She also urged the government that peace, calm and the restoration of the status quo ante along the LAC be the only guiding principles in our national interest.

Sonia Gandhi also discussed the economic crisis and the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) situation in the country and said that “misfortunes do not come singly”.

“India has been hit by a terrible economic crisis, a pandemic of huge proportions. Much of each crisis is attributable to the mismanagement of the BJP-led NDA government and the wrong policies pursued by it,” she said, adding that the party has discussed the economic crisis before. “Since then, it has only become worse. The Modi government refuses to listen to good advice. The need of the hour is a massive fiscal stimulus, putting money directly in the hands of the poor, protecting and nurturing the MSMEs, and stimulating demand.”

Slamming the government, she said that the government announced a hollow financial package that had a fiscal component of less than 1 per cent of the GDP. Discussing the fuel price hike, she said, “The government has added insult to injury by mercilessly raising petrol and diesel prices for 17 consecutive days, at a time when world prices of crude have fallen.” She emphasised that the result is that a sliding economy is now hurtling toward a “recession” for the first time in 42 years and recoveries will take long time.

She also criticised the government over the handling of the Covid-19 crisis and said the government was totally unprepared to manage the fallout of the lockdown. “The pandemic hit India in February. The Congress offered its total support to the government and supported Lockdown 1.0. Within weeks, it was apparent that the government was totally unprepared to manage the fallout of a lockdown,” she said.

Sonia alleged that millions of jobs have been lost and several MSMEs have been shut. “Despite the assurances of the Prime Minister who centralized all authority in his hands, the pandemic continues to rage. The grave deficiencies in the health infrastructure have been exposed. The promised peak is nowhere in sight. The Centre has passed the buck to the state governments, but given them zero extra finances,” she said.

“Actually, the people have been left to protect themselves as best as possible. The mismanagement of the pandemic will be recorded as one of the most disastrous failures of the Modi government,” she added.

The CWC meeting comes after the all-party meeting convened by the Prime Minister last week. Sources in the party said that the incident at the Line of Actual Control is unacceptable to the party and the relationship with Nepal is at an all time low.

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