New Delhi, Jun 21 (PTI) A meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs should be called at the earliest and briefed by the foreign secretary, defence secretary and other top officials on the violent faceoff with China in which 20 Indian soldiers died, several panel members from the opposition parties said on Sunday.
However, panel members from the ruling party termed the demand an act of politics and said it wouldn't be feasible to call the meeting when the country is grappling with the coronavirus crisis.
The committee is chaired by former Union Minister and BJP MP PP Chaudhary.
Twenty Indian Army personnel were killed in a brutal attack by Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley on June 15. This was the worst cross-border violence between the two armies in 45 years and it has frayed ties between India and China.
Following the incident, members from various opposition parties demanded that a meeting of the standing committee on external affairs be called to discuss the matter.
RSP MP NK Premchandran, a member of the panel, said a meeting has to be called on the standoff between India and China.
'A meeting has to be called at the earliest as it is an issue of national importance. Foreign secretary and defense secretary should be invited to brief the panel on the violence faceoff,' Premchandran told PTI.
Former Home Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said all top officials who can throw light on the incident should be called to brief the members.
'A meeting must be called and the foreign secretary should brief on the violent stand-off between forces of India and China in Galwan Valley and members must be allowed to call other top officials of the government who can throw more light on this,” Chidambaram said.
But BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said political leaders from across parties should stand united with the government in a time of crisis. She also said there's politics behind this demand at such a moment.
'To fight the Chinese wall, political leaders should stand united with the government as a firewall and avoid propaganda and politics,' Lekhi said.
Wondering why MPs from opposition parties didn't demand a meeting of the standing committee amid the coronavirus pandemic, she asserted that 'there is definitely politics behind this meeting (call).” Her party colleague and member in the committee Poonam Mahajan said the meeting wouldn't be feasible as it could be risky for members of the Lok Sabha Secretariat due to the pandemic.
The members have a right to demand meetings of the parliamentary standing committees but these panels are not a platform to do politics on issues of national interest, she said.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu have asked the secretary generals to explore the possibility of arranging a meeting via video conference. PTI JTR JTR ABH ABH