‘Govt. stonewalling Opposition demand for discussion on China in Parliament’

Congress leader Manish Tewari says government reneged after saying it would brief leaders of political parties

Lok Sabha member and senior Congress leader Manish Tewari on Thursday charged the Narendra Modi government with “stonewalling” the Opposition’s demand to have any discussion in Parliament on the border situation with China, and argued that it doesn’t augur well in a democracy.

Mr. Tewari made these remarks at the launch of his new book 10 Flashpoints; 20 Years: National Security Situations that Impacted India that had earlier created a political storm by questioning India’s response to the 26/11 attacks under the United Progress Allliance (UPA) government.

The book was formally launched by former Foreign Secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon, who also served as the National Security Advisor (NSA) in the Manmohan Singh government. While lauding the author for the book that looks at various national security challenges, Mr. Menon said that he disagreed with some of the tactical positions taken by Mr. Tewari.

The former NSA also described India’s “China challenge” as “the foremost challenge”.

Speaking about the book, Professor Happymon Jacob, who teaches Disarmament and Diplomacy in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), appreciated the honesty with which Mr. Tewari had tried to dissect India’s security challenges.

Talking about the China challenge at the book’s launch, Mr. Tewari said, “Citing national security, the government has said they will brief the leaders of the political parties but they reneged on it.”

Earlier in the day, in an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Tewari also attempted to contextualise his comments on why he felt the Manmohan Singh government should have taken “kinetic action” against Pakistan in the 26/11 attacks.

“One consequence was that it played into the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) canard that the UPA government is soft on terror. It immediately didn’t have an impact because we won the Delhi Assembly elections immediately after that in 2008 and, subsequently, won the Parliament elections handsomely in 2009,” he noted.

“But later on, we know that an inspired campaign of malfeasance started gaining currency,” Mr. Tewari added.

The Lok Sabha member also said that India’s position of “restraint is often perceived as a sign of weakness by Pakistan”. He cited the example of ‘Operation Parakram’ under the Vajpayee government after the December 13 Parliament attack in 2001, when India’s neighbour took it as a sign of weakness that an Army General was changed in the middle of Operation Parakram.

Asked if the Indian State has become more aggressive under the Modi government, he said, “[The] Pulwama bombings happened after [the] Uri surgical strikes.”

Mr. Tewari said “surgical strikes” used to happen earlier too, but the Modi government started taking “public ownership” of these military operations.

Agreeing that the Balakot strikes crossed a certain threshold, the Congress leader cautioned against politicising military decisions for electoral gains.

“Well, you see, that is where they actually make a very grave error. Because if national security responses are primarily going to be designed for domestic audiences, at some point in time, you will stumble very badly,” Mr. Tewari said.

Source: Read Full Article