“I want to raise some questions. Did the Prime Minister know that we were not fully prepared at the border? If the Prime Minister knew, then why didn’t he say that he had ordered the Army to evict the Chinese Armed Forces from the Indian territory? And if the matter was unknown to the Prime Minister, then who kept him in the dark? Is our Government in a position to give the guarantee that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated, and the sins we have committed will not be granted a new lease of life?” No… neither Rahul Gandhi nor Sonia Gandhi – the two leaders of the main Opposition Indian National Congress’ Party – did raise these questions.
The querist further said: “Even at this hour of crisis, our Government is reluctant to acknowledge the fact that it failed to realise China’s intentions, its military preparedness and incursions. However, China humiliated us in front of the whole world, and in front of our neighbours. By carrying out this attack, the Chinese people proved how weak we were as far as security arrangements were concerned. Now, China will showcase itself as a Messenger of Peace, as its purpose has been partly fulfilled.” No, this statement has not been made by any Politician in Opposition in India, while criticising the Narendra Modi Government in New Delhi after the Indian and Chinese Armed Forces clashed with one another in the Galwan Valley near Ladakh on June 15, 2020. A young Indian politician had made the statement while speaking at the Upper House of the Indian Parliament on November 9, 1962. On that day, he launched an attack on the Jawaharlal Nehru Government for its failure to protect the Indian territories from the Chinese aggressors. Yes, 38-year-old Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not hesitate to slam the Indian Government’s foreign and defence policies 58 years ago…
Had Vajpayee, who would become Prime Minister of India in 1996, asked all these questions today, how he would have been treated? The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders might have asked him not to create division at the time of crisis. They might have advised Vajpayee not to demoralise and disrespect the Indian Army in order to gain political mileage. Unfortunately, the BJP leaders have been saying this to the Opposition parties since 20 Indian soldiers were killed in Galwan on June 15.
The Congress Party has asked Prime Minister Modi how much of India’s land had been occupied by the Chinese Army, and what he was doing to remove them from the Indian territory. Speaking at a media conference in New Delhi a couple of days ago, senior Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said former Army generals and defence experts feared that around 40-60sqkm of Indian territory had been “illegally occupied” by China. He also asked PM Modi who was responsible for it, and whether he would fix any responsibility. “We also want to ask the PM about the Chinese intrusion. How did the Chinese soldiers enter India?” asked Tewari. Later, the Government announced that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh would answer these questions in the Parliament. However, it is not clear when the Parliament will convene the next session. The Government is also not ready to hold a Parliamentary Committee meeting through video conference in order to discuss the issue. It is to be noted that then Prime Minister Nehru had wasted no time in calling a Parliament Session six decades ago!
The Nehru Government declared a State of Emergency on October 26, 1962 after the Chinese Army entered into North-Eastern Indian Province of Arunachal Pradesh. Vajpayee immediately met Prime Minister Nehru and urged the latter to call a Parliamentary Session for discussing the issue. At that time, Jana Sangh had only four members in the Parliament, while the Government had two-third majority. Still, Pandit Nehru accepted Vajpayee’s request and called a Parliamentary Session on November 8. In the meantime, Defence Minister Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon had resigned from his post.
Nehru might also call a secret meeting on that day. However, he admitted that the entire nation was worried about the crisis. So, a secret meeting could send a wrong message to the people. The debate in the Lower House lasted for a week, and Vajpayee got a chance to address the House on the second day… on November 9, 1962. When the young Vajpayee was targeting the Nehru Government, the Sino-Indian War was going on.
Today, China occupies quite a big portion of the Indian territory in Ladakh, and is planning to set up bunkers, there. The Indian Defence Ministry and the Indian Army have admitted this fact. In fact, India has asked the Chinese forces to return to their territory on the opposite side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). However, Prime Minister Modi told an All-Party Meeting on November 19: “Neither is anyone inside the Indian territory, nor any of our border posts captured. India will not cede an inch of Indian land.” Later, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) explained his remarks and also deleted that particular part from the statement issued by the PM during the All-Party Meeting.
In 1962, Vajpayee had criticised the Government for its reluctance to accept the reality. He, reportedly, had told the Upper House: “We should not hesitate to admit that we have committed a grave crime against the country by neglecting the aspect of national security.” No one called Vajpayee Anti-national on that day in the Parliament of democratic India.
Did the members of the Opposition not try to take political advantage of India’s defeat in War against China in 1962? Yes… they did! In four post-War by-elections, Jana Sangh and other Opposition parties had made a pre-poll Alliance against the Congress. Socialist leaders J B Kripalani and Ram Manohar Lohia, erstwhile Swatantra Party’s Minoo Masani and Jan Sangh President Deen Dayal Upadhyay contested those elections. Apart from Upadhyay, other three registered victory against the Congress candidates.
This is the history of Indian Democracy. As India is not China, the Oppositions have every right to raise questions and the Government will have to answer. Vajpayee had raised questions during the Nehru Era, the Congress leaders had done the same during Vajpayee Era (over the Kargil War against Pakistan), and senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and others cornered the Manmohan Singh Government over border issues with China and Pakistan in the Parliament. These leaders did not care about National Unity while criticising the Government!
The question arises here is: Is there someone, like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in the Opposition Camp, today? The answer is simple: No! Nehru had a great advantage… at that time; the Opposition camp was very weak. PM Modi, too, is enjoying the same advantage. Therefore, his Government does not have to be held accountable. So far, no one has been able to force the Modi Administration to explain how the problem has been created in Ladakh, and how it would be resolved. Today, there is not a single Opposition leader, like Vajpayee, who could ask the Government: “Was the Government still toying in distinctions between ‘talks’ and ‘negotiations’? Had policy changed after September 8 (1962) when it was apparent that China had cheated us, when it had invaded us with a huge force, when it had committed aggression and then sought to mislead everyone into believing that it was we who were the first to resort to aggression?“
Yes, young Vajpayee tore into then PM Nehru over his Government’s failure during the 1962 India-China War on November 9. Interestingly, no one interrupted him, and listened to his arguments with respect and in silence through his hour-long speech in the Upper House. That was the Golden Day of the Indian Democracy.
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Facebook:
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Twitter:
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Linkedin:
Contact us: email@example.com