“Even In 1962 War…”: Shashi Tharoor Invokes Jawaharlal Nehru For China Clash Discussion

Congress’s Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor speaking to NDTV outside parliament in Delhi.

New Delhi:

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor today invoked Jawaharlal Nehru’s parliamentary conduct during the 1962 war with China and attacked the Narendra Modi government over not allowing a discussion in parliament on recent clashes along the border in Arunachal Pradesh.

“We just want a discussion. Even during the war with China in 1962, Nehru ji (the then Prime Minister) got the parliament to function. He was ready to listen to everyone. I think more than 100 MPs spoke and decisions were then taken accordingly. These things should happen in a democracy,” he said, invoking two things the BJP uses often to attack the Congress — Jawaharlal Nehru’s allegedly soft policies and the war in which India suffered significantly. 

Mr Tharoor was speaking to NDTV after the Congress and over a dozen other Opposition parties walked out in protest for the second consecutive day.

“We should not forget that our country needs parliamentary accountability. Even on issues of national security, there are certain things that are confidential, but there are policy issues, too, which can be discussed,” said the MP from Kerala, a former international diplomat.

He further said, speaking to news agency PTI: “For five years, the Chinese have been nibbling at our LAC (Line of Actual Control), starting with Doklam in 2017, going on till what happened on December 9 in Tawang, and the incidents in Galwan, Depsang, Hot Springs and so on.”

He wasn’t convinced with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in which he explained the clash and urged for unity across parties. “Merely a small statement, with no clarifications, taking no questions — I’m sorry to say, that’s not democracy,” Mr Tharoor said, pressing on the Opposition’s united stand. 

In both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the government has been cagey and the chairpersons have not allowed discussions on the issue, citing rules, conventions and “sensitivity of the matter”. 

The Defence Minister, in his statement, stressed: “I wish to share with this House that there are no fatalities or serious casualties on our side.” 

The minister was reacting only after the December 9 clash came to light via media reports four days later. 

To the Opposition charge that China is “emboldened” by the BJP government’s “meek” and “inconsistent” foreign policy, the government has cited older incidents, particularly 1962. 

But the AAP’s Sanjay Singh has cited the 2020 Galwan valley incident in Ladakh. “After that, India had imposed several economic sanctions on China. But now India’s bilateral trade is bigger with China,” he told NDTV.

“Exports from India to China have decreased by 37 per cent, while imports from China have increased by 31 per cent,” the Rajya Sabha MP claimed. He said there are “many questions” on how Chinese companies are getting contracts in India.