Sikkim standoff: Congress questions Centre's strategy to resolve border issue with China

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday expressed concern over rising infiltrations along the border with China and asked the government what was its strategy to resolve the issue and deal with national security which was "going through turbulent times".

The party said "unfortunately, it appears that this government has been caught napping" and has not been able to implement recent accords between the two countries signed by the UPA government, which has been violated.

AICC spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the Congress, however, stands solidly behind the government on issues of national security and on steps taken in the national interest to resolve the current stand-off with China.

 Sikkim standoff: Congress questions Centres strategy to resolve border issue with China

Representational image. Reuters

He also took a dig at the government for not having a full-time defence minister, saying "we either have a reluctant defence minister or a part-time defence minister".

"Unfortunately the nation has lurched from a reluctant 'Raksha Mantri' to 'Part Time Raksha Mantri' and vice-versa," he said.

"National security under this government is going through very turbulent times in different facets..."

"When will this government take strong corrective measures on national security for national interest, with respect to our border situation. Any right thinking person and certainly a responsible opposition would be alarmed and concerned as we are," he said.

The Congress leader said China blaming India and adopting "the most aggressive postures, given the standard of Chinese aggression", and the "chicken neck" which is an issue of territorial national integrity and security along with our ties with Bhutan, have come into focus due to this standoff.

"We are highly alarmed and concerned because the responses of the government in one or two cases have been actually very-very pitiable," he said, citing Minister of State for Defence's response to Parliament on a question when he said "No Chinese incursions, only transgressions".

Taking a dig at the minister, Singhvi asked the Ministry of Defence to supply a dictionary to show the differences when one says 'No Chinese incursions only Transgressions' and "even a lawyer will blush with such a distinction".

He also cited home minister Rajnath Singh remark that incursions are "only a perception" and said "when you have such a serious standoff or face-off, the responses by a very senior minister assume very great significance".

Singhvi said, "We were able to contain and control the situation. We say this with great responsibility and restraint but we would be abdicating our responsibilities if we do not say this."

He said there have been 120 Chinese incursions in the past 45 days and 240 such intrusions have taken place in the first six months of 2017 itself.

The Congress leader said this is happening even when the 'Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Area Agreement' of April 2005 and the 'Border Defence Co-operation Agreement of 2013' exists between India-China.

He said such kind of confrontation between India and China has never happened in the last 55 years, especially when there has been a complete stoppage of the 'Mansarovar Yatra' from one entry point.

Reiterating the party's support to the government on the matter, Singhvi said, "We stand solidly behind the government if and when they take corrective measures in national interest vis-a-vis China border issue."

The Congress leader also highlighted the Mountain Strike Corps to which the UPA devoted Rs 64,678 crore with 90,274 additional soldiers to man the 'India-Chinese border' and asked why it has been kept in "deep freeze" and where is the scheme.

"All this happens in the backdrop of Chinese daredevilry, Chinese unconcern and Chinese complete lack of sympathy what to talk of empathy for issues like Masood Azhar, persistent objection and obstruction, for issues like NSG, persistent repetitive obstruction, issues like UNSC Membership.

"This is much worse because I am sorry to say that our longest term ally Russia extended support to China on the Corridor issue," he said, adding that India stood isolated on the CPEC economic corridor issue.

"We appear to have become an isolated object or who is standing in the silence watching helplessly," he said.

The remarks came in the wake of a face-off with Chinese troops in Doklam, a disputed territory between China and Bhutan and on a day when China hit back at India accusing it of "betrayal".

The verbal spat between China and India escalated as Beijing said the Indian Army's action to stop Chinese troops from constructing a road in an area near Sikkim is a "betrayal" of the stance taken by Indian governments and India must withdraw from the region.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the India-China border in the Sikkim sector is well demarcated.

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Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 22:43:17 IST