Rahul Gandhi may not be in the country as the monsoon session of Parliament takes place but the Congress MP is in no mood to relent and took to Twitter on Wednesday to continue his attacks on the Narendra Modi government over the India-China border stand-off.
Mr Gandhi, who accompanied his mother – Congress chief Sonia Gandhi – as she flew out last week for a medical check-up, lashed out at uncertainty over the extent of Chinese presence in Ladakh and asked if the government was “with the Indian Army or China”.
In a not-so-subtle double swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Mr Gandhi tweeted: “Aap chronology samajhiye (Please understand the chronology)” and claimed that days before PM Modi said China had not crossed into Indian territory, the Indian government “took a huge loan from a China-based bank”.
“Aap chronology samajhiye (Please understand the chronology). PM said that no one entered the border… Then took a huge loan from a china-based bank… Then the defence minister said that China had encroached on the country… Now the Minister of State for Home said no encroachment,” Mr Gandhi tweeted.
“Is the Modi government with the Indian Army or with China? What is there to be so afraid?” he asked.
आप chronology समझिए:
🔹PM बोले कि कोई सीमा में नहीं घुसा
🔹फिर चीन-स्थित बैंक से भारी क़र्ज़ा लिया
🔹फिर रक्षामंत्री ने कहा चीन ने देश में अतिक्रमण किया
🔹अब गृह राज्य मंत्री ने कहा अतिक्रमण नहीं हुआ
मोदी सरकार भारतीय सेना के साथ है या चीन के साथ?
इतना डर किस बात का?
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 16, 2020
This morning the government told Parliament that no infiltration had been reported along the LAC (Line of Actual Control, the de facto border with China) over the past six months.
On Tuesday, however, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq km of Indian territory in Ladakh and had made several attempts to transgress the LAC in mid-May.
The government’s response today indicated an attempt to downplay Chinese intrusions and stress that India has firmly held on to its positions along the LAC.
In June Prime Minister Modi, in the days following the Galwan violence, said: “Neither has anyone intruded into our territory nor taken over any post” – a comment interpreted by the Congress as indicating China had crossed the border, because the alternative was that India had crossed into Chinese territory.
The Prime Minister’s Office later clarified that remark and accused the opposition of wilful misunderstanding.
According to news agency Reuters, around that same time the government took out a $750 million loan from the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in June.
The money was to help India battle the novel coronavirus pandemic – specifically strengthen economic aid for businesses, expand social safety nets and bolster healthcare, Reuters reported.
However, since then the government has cracked down on business dealings with China, including banning China-made mobile phone apps and revoking tenders with Chinese companies as retaliation for the Galwan incident.
Mr Gandhi has been a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government on various issues, including its handling of the China border situation and ongoing uncertainty over whether China has, in fact, intruded into and captured Indian territory.
On Tuesday he tweeted after the Defence Minister’s statement in Parliament, urging Mr Singh to “not be afraid of taking China’s name“.
Earlier this year he accused the Prime Minister of “surrendering” to the Chinese and has since frequently alleged that the government is trying to mislead the people on this issue.
India and China have been engaged in a serious border stand-off since skirmishes were reported from the Pangong Lake region in Ladakh in May. The June violence has been followed by at least four other face-offs, including at least two in which live ammunition was fired (as warning shots, not at each other).
Multiple talks at different levels – from military to ministerial – have, so far, failed to defuse the situation. The Foreign Ministers of the two countries met in Moscow last week and drew up a five-point plan to resolve the prolonged issue.
This morning sources said Indian and Chinese soldiers fired 100-200 rounds of “warning shots” on the North Bank of Pangong Lake in early September.
With input from Reuters