As parliament was adjourned after the Opposition insisted on a discussion on the India-China border clash of December 9 that came to light this week, Union Home Minister Amit Shah alleged that the Congress protest had “another reason”
“The Congress unfortunately disrupted Question Hour even after being told that the Defence Minister (Rajnath Singh) will give a statement on the issue. I saw the Question Hour list and, after seeing question number 5, I understood the anxiety (of Congress). A Congress member had asked it. We had the answer ready. But they disrupted the House,” said Mr Shah in the interim between the disruption and the Defence Minister’s statement.
The FCRA licence of the Foundation — a social organisation named after the former PM, chaired by his wife and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi — was cancelled two months ago, reportedly after investigations by an ministers’ committee formed by Amit Shah-led Ministry of Home Affairs.
Today, Mr Shah said: “If they would have allowed, I would have given an answer in Parliament that Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received grant of Rs 1.35 crores from the Chinese embassy during 2005-06 and 2006-07, which was not appropriate as per the FCRA. So as per the rules, Home Ministry cancelled its registration.”
The Congress did not immediately respond to these comments by Amit Shah.
Mr Shah also made a brief comment on the clash at the Arunachal Pradesh border: “I want to say clearly: Till the time (Narendra) Modi government is in power, no one can capture one inch of our land.”
The news broke yesterday that a clash near Yangtse river along the contested border — the Line of Actual Control of LAC — took place last Friday amid an ongoing standoff between the two countries.
The Congress and other Opposition parties have been demanding that the issue not be closed at statements by the government, but a discussion be held by suspending all other business.
They walked out of the Lok Sabha in protest after Rajnath Singh’s statement — in which he briefly described the clash and asserted that “no Indian soldier was killed or seriously injured” — as the Speaker did not allow a discussion citing “House rules and tradition”.
Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil told NDTV outside the House: “This is an issue that concerns us all. We also information to share, things to say. Why not have a discussion?”
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who held a meeting with the army leadership, told the Lok Sabha: “On December 9, 2022, PLA (People’s Liberation Army of China) troops tried to transgress the LAC in Yangtse area of Tawang Sector and unilaterally change the status quo. The Chinese attempt was contested by our troops in a firm and resolute manner. The ensuing face-off led to a physical scuffle in which the Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from transgressing into our territory and compelled them to return to their posts. The scuffle led to injuries to a few personnel on both sides. I wish to share with this House that there are no fatalities or serious casualties on our side.”
He further said that “timely intervention of Indian military commanders” led to the Chinese soldiers going back to their locations.
“As a follow-up of the incident, local Commander in the area held a Flag Meeting with his counterpart on December 11, 2022, to discuss the issue in accordance with established mechanisms. The Chinese side was asked to refrain from such actions and maintain peace and tranquility along the border. The issue has also been taken up with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels.”
He also asked the House to “stand united in supporting our soldiers in their brave effort”.
The Opposition demanded a discussion but Speaker Om Birla was not keen, and said he hoped the members would “respect the convention of the House on national security issues”. At this, the Opposition walked out.
Congress communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh has earlier said the party has been trying to “wake up” the government on the Chinese actions, but the ruling BJP is silent to “protect its political image”. He alleged that China’s audacity was fuelled by the Narendra Modi government’s tendency to “suppress” the border issue.