New Delhi, Jun 24 (PTI) Amid a stand-off with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh, the Congress on Wednesday referred to the claims about China's intrusion into Arunachal Pradesh made by a BJP MP from that state and asked the NDA government at the Centre to come clean on the issue.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari alleged that India's strategic national interests are being compromised by the government in order to protect that 'nationalist' image which it has created for itself.
He also accused the government of adopting an 'ostrich-like' attitude by 'pretending that Chinese aggression has not taken place'.
Party spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi asked the government to give a 'strong reply' to China as regular dialogues would not work, and India needs to use other means like trade to take on it.
Tewari said BJP MP Tapir Gao had in a TV interview recently claimed that China has occupied areas on both banks of the Subansiri River in Arunachal Pradesh's Upper Subansiri district and on the Indian side of the McMahon Line.
Ever since reports about Chinese aggression into the Indian territory emerged, the NDA government has been walking the extra mile to downplay these reports and was trying to obfuscate the facts on the ground, he alleged.
'Will the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and his government come clean on the claims made by the BJP MP,' he asked at a virtual press conference.
Tewari sought to know from the government if what Tapir Gao, the former BJP chief of Arunachal Pradesh, was saying was right or not.
'What is the truth behind what Tapir Gao is saying? There should be an immediate clarification from the government,' he said.
'The government has become a victim of its own image. India's strategic national interests are being compromised by this government in order to protect that self image which they have created for themselves,' he said, adding, 'The government has adopted an ostrich in the sand kind of attitude that they buried their head in the sand and they are pretending that the Chinese aggression has not taken place.' Tewari said Prime Minister Modi's 'double-speak' at the all-party meeting was a 'classic manifestation' of this attitude, when he said there has been no Chinese intrusion and then 'tried a somersault the next day that he was talking about the faceoff that led to the unfortunate death of 20 of our soldiers'.
'The government is not prepared to discharge its national duty, but, is more worried about protecting a false image, which it has created for itself as some very big nationalistic force in the country,' he said.
Gogoi said India cannot afford to have another Doklam-like situation in Ladakh and needs to look at other forms of leverages like trade to have successful negotiations with China and use them to force the Chinese to go back to status quo in entirety.
Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam near Sikkim in 2017 after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army.
He said China has a trade surplus and many countries have used trade to force the Chinese in negotiations successfully.
'But, why we are here is because we have a prime minister who cares more about his public persona and less about India's national security...
'We are having an economic crisis, health crisis and a foreign policy crisis because India has a prime minister who is trapped in his own image and can't see the suffering and pain in India, whether it is due to demonetisation, lockdown or due to Chinese aggression,' Gogoi said.
'We demand that the Government of India does not look at what's happening in Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh as isolated incidents. These are grand designs and this needs to be responded strongly,' Gogoi said.
China needs a strong response from India, as regular dialogues won't work. Despite all meetings, the Chinese launched a strong, premeditated attack, the Congress spokesperson said.
'China has learnt one thing from the Doklam episode that the (Narendra) Modi government is willing to settle for a military disengagement,' he alleged.
Gogoi highlighted that the pattern of the Chinese Army shows they are gradually encroaching upon Indian territory across the LAC and the responsibility of protecting Indian territory solely lies with the government of India.
Tewari said BJP MP Tapir Gao has claimed that the Army has set up another base called new Majha, deeper in Indian territory after Chinese aggressions.
This is not the first time that Tapir Gao has made these revelations, as he stated the same in the Lok Sabha in November 2019, but the government has remained silent on the issue, he said.
Tewari also played a video of Gao's speech in Lok Sabha.
'We do know something with regard to Galwan valley, Pangong Tso lake, hot springs area in the western sector, and with regard to Chinese intrusion in Naku la in the Central sector. But, facts continue to remain opaque on the eastern sector which is perhaps most disputed,' he said. PTI SKC NSD NSD