Kolkata: Ganashakti, the Bangla language mouthpiece of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has triggered outrage for carrying a front-page article quoting a Chinese spokesperson as saying that Indian soldiers violated border protocol and disregarded the status quo in Galwan Valley, leading to the deadly clash that killed 20 Indian troops this Monday.
The publication and the CPI(M) have both defended themselves against the outrage, saying it is usual practice to quote the governments of both India and China, and present both versions.
A statement from Ganashakti said the outrage was a “smear campaign” run by the BJP’s IT cell.
What Ganashakti carried
The article, titled ‘Ladakh seemante sanghat, mrityu ubhai pakkhei’ (Face-off in Ladakh, both sides suffer casualties), first detailed the Monday night clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, then carried the official version of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
It went on to quote the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson as saying he had not heard of any casualties on their side, and then the story was continued on Page 2, in which the spokesperson said the Indian Army had violated their consensus agreement on de-escalation.
“Indian Army on 15 June violated that agreement in a serious way. The Indian Army breached China’s border line twice for their illegal work. They also provoked Chinese soldiers and attacked them. This violation of protocol led to the physical clash,” Ganashakti quoted the spokesperson as saying.
But now, only a cutting of the second page is being circulated on social media, implying that the publication was only putting forth the Chinese view, due to the Communist link.
BJP IT cell ‘mischief’
Ganashakti highlighted the presence of both countries’ versions in a statement, blaming the BJP IT cell for “mischief”.
“We have taken versions from both the governments. On the front page we have given the Indian foreign ministry’s version, and then quoted the Chinese spokesperson,” it said.
“The BJP’s IT cell however has taken only the second page, where it seems like we have written (that the Indian Army violated the agreement and breached the border). In reality, we quoted the Chinese spokesperson. It is a mischievous way to confuse and mislead people. We condemn this,” it added.
Nilotpal Basu, member of the CPI(M)’s apex body, the politburo, told ThePrint this “maligning campaign” by the BJP had contradicted itself and proved that the Left was “still relevant”.
“I have read the story,” Basu said. “It is a textbook example of a news article and it is totally matter-of-fact reporting. The paper has carried versions of both the countries. BJP’s IT cell is making such outrageous and irresponsible interpretations of the article to mislead people and brand it as pro-China.”
Basu added: “The BJP has failed in its diplomacy and strategic handling of foreign issues. They have made India isolated in the region. Now, they are trying to divert attention by these stupid tricks.”
CPI(M) was never aligned with Chinese or Soviet Communists
The CPI(M)’s Bengal state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said the party was never aligned to China’s Communist Party or that of the erstwhile Soviet Union.
“We only raise issues and express concern for our country. We are not agents of China. Some people always refer to an old saying ‘China’s chairman, our chairman’, but they don’t tell you that all senior CPI(M) leaders protested against this slogan. And we never accepted it,” Mishra said.
“We never want a war anywhere. We want peace and settlement through dialogue. We expressed condolence for our soldiers,” he added.
However, Swapan Dasgupta, nominated Rajya Sabha MP and journalist aligned with the BJP, claimed that the CPI(M) had shown its true colours with this article.
“They have maintained their unblemished record of being anti-India. Nobody has ever seen CPI(M) taking a pro-India stand. So, we are not surprised,” Dasgupta told ThePrint.