Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said China was preparing for war and accused the government of trying to “ignore” the threat, saying it was “asleep” and not ready to accept the situation. Gandhi’s attack on the government drew a sharp response from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which accused the Congress leader of trying to misrepresent the country and demoralize the Indian military, saying it was not Nehru’s India of 1962. The BJP accused Gandhi of continuing to doubt about the bravery of Indian soldiers.
Gandhi’s criticism came on a day when Eastern Army chief Lt Gen RP Kalita said border areas along the country’s northern border were “stable” and that Indian armed forces remained “firmly under control”. “We are prepared for all eventualities and contingencies.” Addressing a press conference in Jaipur to mark the completion of 100 days of the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi also hit out at External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, saying he was still taking notes but needed to “deepen his understanding”. Gandhi also hit out at the media, saying he was sure reporters were asking him about everything from Sachin Pilot to Ashok Gehlot amid the tussle between the two leaders in Rajasthan, but not the question about China.
“I see the threat of China very clearly. I have been clear about this for the last two or three years, but the government is trying to hide and ignore it. This threat cannot be hidden or ignored. Their (Chinese) full offensive preparation is going on…the Indian government is sleeping,” Gandhi said, referring to the conflicts on the borders of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. “The government doesn’t want to listen, but their (Chinese) preparation is in full swing. Preparation is for war. It’s not for invasion, it’s for war. If you look at their weapon pattern, what they’re doing — they’re preparing for war. Our government is hiding it and is unable to accept it,” the former Congress chief said.
He alleged that this is happening because the BJP-led government is doing event-based work and not working strategically. “They think in terms of event management, but where geostrategy is involved, event-based action doesn’t work, force does. I said three to four times that we should be careful and understand what is happening,” Gandhi said.
“They keep making statements. I see the Foreign Secretary still has notes. I shouldn’t say that, but he should deepen his understanding.” BJP IT head Amit Malviya said that every proud Indian has seen the videos of Indian soldiers beating up their Chinese counterparts, except Gandhi, who continues to doubt their bravery only because ” signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese, his family enjoyed Chinese hospitality and raised funds at the RG Foundation.
BJP spokesperson Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore took a dig at the Congress leader, saying, “Rahul Gandhi feels that there should be closeness to China . Now he has come so close that he knows what China will do.” “Rahul Gandhi has spoken in his liver about India’s security and border areas to create misconceptions in the country and demoralize Indian soldiers. This is not the India of his great-grandfather (Jawaharlal) Nehru, who lost 37,000 square kilometers to China while he slept.” “This is Modi’s India, this is the new India. Now, if anyone raises his eyes towards the ground, he will get a befitting reply,” Rathore said at a press conference in Delhi.
He further said that for his relaunch, Rahul Gandhi should not make irresponsible remarks about national security. Lt Gen Kalita’s statement on India’s readiness came a week after Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Yangtze River border region, northeast of the monastic town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which was invaded by the Chinese PLA in 1962. Stating that there are different perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at several points, he said eight of these areas are recognized by both sides.
Kalita said the PLA had crossed over in one of these areas in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector, which was “very heavily attacked” by Indian forces on the ground. “At present, I would like to assure everyone that the border areas along the northern border are stable and we have them under firm control,” said the Commander-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Eastern Command.
The army chief said that as soldiers, the armed forces are always ready to protect the nation, “whether in peace or in conflict”, asserting that the primary task of the defense forces is to ensure the territorial integrity of the country against any external or internal threat. Noting that the Tawang clashes resulted in minor injuries to soldiers from both sides, he said local commanders were able to resolve the issue by conducting negotiations according to existing protocols.
“It led to a certain amount of physical violence, but it was contained at the local level using existing bilateral mechanisms and protocols.” He said a delegation level meeting followed in Bumla where the issue was further resolved. When asked if there was any invasion by China or if any land in Arunachal was held by India’s northern neighbour, the army chief said “the short answer is no”.
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