“When will we stop legitimising Chinese aggression by referring to ‘differences in perception’ rather than asserting our claim,” the Congress asked the government on Tuesday, stepping up its attack against it over the handling of the border issue with China.
The Opposition party also asked External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar when will he unequivocally declare that the “restoration of the pre-2020 status quo at the border is our objective”.
Congress’ strong attack came a day after Jaishankar in Lok Sabha on Monday strongly objected to the use of the term “pitai” (beating) by former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi while referring to the India-China clash in Tawang, asserting that our soldiers have stood their ground in Yangtse in Arunachal Pradesh and they should be “appreciated and honoured”.
In a statement, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said,”Why have we not been more aggressive and made counter-intrusions to compel the Chinese to withdraw as we did in 1986 and 2013…When will we stop legitimising Chinese aggression by referring to ‘differences in perception’ rather than asserting our claim?”
In his response to Jaishankar’s comments, Ramesh also said the party agrees with the minister’s view that our jawans should be ‘respected, honoured and appreciated’ as they stand strong against our adversaries.
“Was it this respect that led PM Modi to say ‘Na wahaan koi humari seema mein ghus aaya hai aur na hi koi ghusa hua hai’ (neither anyone has crossed our border nor is anyone inside our territory) after 20 of our soldiers gave up their lives defending our borders on 19 June 2020?” he asserted.
The external affairs minister claims that relations with China are ‘not normal’, then why have we never called the Chinese Ambassador and issued a demarche as is done with the Pakistan High Commissioner, Ramesh asked.
“Why is our trade dependence on China at a record high with imports at USD 95 billion in 2021-22 and the trade deficit at USD 74 billion? Why did our troops conduct military exercises with Chinese troops at Russia’s Vostok-22 exercise in September 2022,” the Congress leader questioned.
Reacting to Jaishankar’s remarks at a conclave on Monday that the Indian Army will not let China change the status quo along the LAC “unilaterally”, Ramesh asked, has the status quo not been altered by Chinese troops 18 km deep in Depsang for the last two years.
“Is it not altered by the fact that our troops are unable to access 1,000 sq km of territory in eastern Ladakh that they earlier patrolled? Is it not altered by the fact that we have agreed to buffer zones that prevent our patrols from going to areas they previously could go to? When will the EAM unequivocally declare that restoration of the pre-2020 status quo is our objective?” Ramesh said.
The EAM said “we are pressuring China,” Ramesh pointed out, and asked why the government has a purely reactive stance.
“Why did we withdraw from our advantageous position in the Kailash range without ensuring full restoration of the pre-2020 status quo? Why have we not been more aggressive and made counter-intrusions to compel the Chinese to withdraw as we did in 1986 and 2013?” he said.