New Delhi: In a sharp dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his predecessor Manmohan Singh Monday said the Chinese have been “brazenly and illegally seeking to claim parts of Indian territory such as the Galwan Valley and the Pangong Tso by committing ‘multiple incursions between April 2020 till date’”, adding that PM Modi cannot allow them to use his words as a “vindication of their position”.
“Disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership. Truth cannot be suppressed by having pliant allies spout comforting but false statements,” said Singh in an apparent reference to Modi’s “no intruder in Indian territory” claim at the all-party meeting on 19 June.
Modi’s remarks triggered a political row, with opposition parties accusing the Prime Minister of not divulging the truth about Chinese intrusions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. The government sought to put a lid on the controversy by issuing a statement the next day claiming that there was a “mischievous interpretation” of what Modi said.
Manmohan, however, said it was the Prime Minister’s responsibility to ensure his words were clear, with no space for misinterpretation. “Those who lead us bear the weight of a solemn duty. And in our democracy, that responsibility rests with the office of the Prime Minister,” the former Prime Minister said. “The Prime Minister must always be mindful of the implications of his words and declarations on our nation’s security as also strategic and territorial interests.”
He further urged Modi to ensure that all “organs of the government work together to tackle this crisis and prevent it from escalating further”. He said the sacrifices of our soldiers cannot be allowed to go in vain.
“We, the nation, lost 20 brave soldiers in the Galwan Valley, Ladakh on June 15th-16th, 2020. They laid down their lives in the ultimate act of sacrifice, valour and duty to our country,” he said in a statement issued Monday. “Our bravehearts defended the motherland till their last breath, and for that, we owe them, and their families, our eternal gratitude. However, their sacrifice cannot be allowed to be in vain.”
‘Country must stand united’
Singh further said the entire country must stand together and be united in our response to this “brazen threat”. “We cannot and will not be cowed down by threats and intimidation nor permit a compromise with our territorial integrity,” the former PM added.
“We call upon the Prime Minister and the government to rise to the occasion, to ensure justice for Col. B. Santosh Babu and our jawans who have made the ultimate sacrifice and resolutely defended our territorial integrity,” he said. “To do any less would be a historic betrayal of the people’s faith.”
Even as the government got the support of most opposition parties on the crisis, the Congress asked a few sharp questions. Party president Sonia Gandhi said the opposition is “still in the dark about many crucial aspects of the crisis” and, therefore, urged the Modi government to disclose the sequence of events in Galwan Valley.