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‘Not allowed to speak on China border row’, Rahul Gandhi walks out of defence panel meet again

Rahul Gandhi had earlier walked out of his first meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence following a verbal spat over a briefing on military structures.

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New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with other party MPs, Wednesday walked out of a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, apparently because he was “not allowed to speak” on the border situation with China. 

The meeting was convened around 3 pm. Sources said Gandhi, despite being warned, continued to steer the conversation in that direction but committee chairperson, BJP leader Jual Oram, stopped the discussion saying it wasn’t on the agenda. 

The agenda of the meeting, which had been decided and circulated on 29 June, was on the “further briefing by the representatives of the Ministry of Defence on the subject of review of working of cantonment boards”.

“There was a discussion on the cantonment board issues, and Rahul was there from the beginning and heard everyone. But later he made an observation that instead of wasting time on issues of who will collect water bills and build toilets and what not, we can talk about more pressing matters,” said a source present at the meeting.

“He was of the view that we should discuss the larger issues about how China is sitting on our borders or the Taliban-Afghanistan matter,” the source added. “He said ‘sub-committees can be made for the cantonment board matter, but these are bigger issues that need to be addressed in the panel meeting’. But he wasn’t allowed by the chairman.”

Following this, Gandhi and the other Congress MPs stormed off.

Earlier in the day, the Congress leader had shared a news article titled ‘China, India clash again with PLA back in Eastern Ladakh’ on Twitter and said India had “never been this vulnerable”.

“GOI’s use of foreign and defence policy as a domestic political tool has weakened our country. India has never been this vulnerable,” Gandhi tweeted.

The Army, however, denied the reports of any fresh clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh, and said no attempt was made by either side to occupy the areas from where the forces had disengaged in February this year according to an agreement.

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time that Rahul Gandhi has staged a walkout at a meeting of the same parliamentary committee. 

In December last year, the Congress leader had stormed out in a similar fashion, following a “verbal spat over a briefing on military structures”.

This was after a member of the house panel suggested that the Indian military uniform system could be inspired from that in the US. Gandhi had objected, saying the forces are the only authority who can decide what the uniform should be.

The defence parliamentary committee has a total of 31 members — 21 from the Lok Sabha, nominated by the speaker, and 10 from the Rajya Sabha, nominated by its chairman. It is responsible for examining bills pertaining to the Ministry of Defence, along with other defence-related issues of importance in Parliament. The term of office for the members of the committee does not exceed a year.

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Why everyone’s upset with Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole — Sena, NCP & his own party


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