Oppn ups the ante on Chinese transgression, but Govt refuses to budge

On December 9, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops attempted to transgress into Indian territory in Yangtse area of Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh, but this was successfully repelled by the Indian troops.

Though the government informed both Houses of Parliament about the incident through a prepared statement, read out by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, it has not acceded to repeated demands by the opposition led by the Congress, to hold a discussion on the issue.

This past week witnessed full blown protests in both Houses of Parliament with opposition parties led by the Congress, staging walk-outs, raising slogans, storming to the wells of both Houses and even carrying placards inside.

With the ongoing Winter session of Parliament speculated to wind up on December 23, six days before schedule, a likelihood of the Centre accepting opposition’s demand for a discussion on the matter, looks dim as of now.

The drama in both Houses unfolded when Rajnath Singh read out a statement on the incident in both Houses of Parliament on December 13, saying that Indian troops in a brave and resolute manner pushed back the Chinese troops back to their positions after a physical scuffle, in which minor injuries were suffered by both sides.

However no fatalities or serious casualties were reported on the Indian side during the incident, he told Parliament.

Owing to timely interventions by Indian commanders, the Chinese troops returned back to their positions, the Defence Minister said.

He said that subsequently a flag meeting between Indian and Chinese commanders was held on December 11, where the Chinese side was told to refrain from such actions and maintain peace and tranquility along the border.

The matter has also been taken up through diplomatic channels with China, the statement said.

Indian soldiers are committed to protect the territorial integrity and thwart any attempt made on it, the minister said in the statement, and expressed confidence that the House stands united in supporting Indian soldiers in their efforts.

However even as he read the statement, there was pandemonium in Lok Sabha (where it was read first by him), as opposition members demanded a discussion on the sensitive matter.

On Thursday, Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury demanded a white paper on China during Zero Hour in Lok Sabha and taunted the government, asking why it was not showing “lal aankh” or angry eyes to the neighbouring country.

After Chowdhury raised the matter, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay also sought a discussion on the China issue.

Chowdhury alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 remark, when he had talked about showing “laal aankh” (angry eyes) to the Chinese over repeated transgressions at the border and had also spoken about the might of a “56-inch chest”.

He said that the government should bring a white paper on the issue.

“Why don’t you show your laal aankh to China,” the Congress leader quipped had repeatedly, amid protests by the treasury benches.

On Wednesday, the opposition led by the Congress had staged several walk-outs from the lower house while seeking discussion on China issue.

On the same day, Congress MP Manish Tewari had raised concern in Lok Sabha over the fact that despite sensitive conditions prevailing along India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh in the aftermath of the attempt of transgression by PLA troops on December 9, the government has not discussed the issue at all in Parliament.

He also expressed disappointment over the fact that since September 2020 and now, this was the sixth session of Parliament and there has not been any discussion on India-China relations and the situation prevailing alongside the LAC. The Galwan valley stand-off had occurred in May 2020.

The Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib had further said that nobody wants to put any blame on the government but the situation is quite sensitive.

Raising the matter during Zero Hour, Tewari said that between 1950 and 1967, whenever tensions with China rose, comprehensive discussions were held in Parliament on India-China relations.

He added that during the 1962 China war, as many as 165 members had taken part in a debate on it between November 8 and November 15, 1962.

Earlier on Wednesday itself, the Opposition had staged walk-outs on three occasions in Lok Sabha, seeking discussion on the China issue.

As soon as the Question Hour ended, Congress’ Chowdhury, who had moved an adjournment motion on the issue, sought discussion on the matter in the lower house.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, however, rejected the motion.

Chowdhury said at this point that when the India-China war had broken out in 1962, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had given an opportunity to more than 160 MPs to speak on the matter in the Parliament.

The Congress, DMK and the NCP members had then staged a walk-out.

Later, when the Zero Hour began, Trinamool’s Bandyopadhyay sought a discussion on China, however his request was not allowed by the Chair.

At this point, the Trinamool members staged a walk-out, while the Congress members remained seated along with NCP and DMK MPs.

On the same day, when the Question Hour had begun, both Congress, DMK and TMC members led by Chowdhury, Sonia Gandhi, T.R. Baalu (DMK) along with Bandyopadhyay had staged a walk-out after their demand for raising the China issue was not heeded by the Speaker.

The Speaker had also objected to Congress members carrying placards in the House while protesting over the Chinese transgression.

Wednesday was a stormy day in Rajya Sabha also, which saw walk-outs from the entire opposition from the upper house, after their demand for a discussion on Chinese aggression was disallowed.

Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the opposition parties wanted a debate to get full information on the Chinese aggression and encroachment on Indian territory.

Deputy Chairman Harivansh, however, had said there was no notice before the Chair and a debate could not be allowed on the issue.

Opposition MPs shouted slogans for some time before staging a walk-out. Those who walked out included MPs of Congress, Left, the Trinamool, the NCP, the RJD, the SP, the JMM, and the Shiv Sena-UBT.

Earlier on the same day, Kharge had said that opposition parties wanted a “detailed discussion in the House” on the Chinese aggression and encroachment at borders.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in his statement on the clash hasn’t informed of the actual situation on the border, he had said.

“Our effort from the start has been that we get full information and the country is also informed of what the actual situation there is,” Kharge had said in Rajya Sabha, adding there was some information that China has built bridges on vacant land.

Harivansh again said that there was no notice given by any of the opposition parties on the issue.

Kharge continued to speak but his mike was switched off.

“We are for the country. We are with the army,” he said. Thereafter, the opposition MPs started raising slogans.

The Deputy Chairman said that no clarifications could be sought on the Defence Minister’s statements, as it was a sensitive issue.

Not satisfied, all opposition MPs had staged a walkout.

On Friday too, as Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 12 noon, after the Opposition’s demand to discuss the India-China border dispute was rejected by the Chair.

The Deputy Chairman repeatedly urged the members to allow the proceedings, citing rules.

Chaos followed the rejection of opposition requests with MPs marching into the well of the House due to which, the upper house was adjourned till 12 noon.

Congress member Randeep Singh Surjewala gave a suspension of business notice under Rule 267 in Rajya Sabha earlier on Friday, to discuss the border situation with China. He also asked the Chairman to ask the Prime Minister and the Government to make a statement on the issue.

Kharge also raised the matter in the House.

On Thursday, Kharge, in a tweet, had taken a dig at the Centre, saying that their “red eyes” have been covered with “Chinese glasses”.

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