Chandigarh, July 7

Taking strong exception to BJP president JP Nadda’s attack on Rahul Gandhi over the India-China standoff issue, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday trashed it as a brazen attempt to distract public attention from the Government of India’s failure in Galwan Valley.

Terming it a diversionary tactic, the Chief Minister said that having failed to respond to his persistent and relevant questions on the Galwan Valley issue, the BJP-led central government was trying desperately now to distract the people with its personal attack on Rahul. Not just Rahul but the entire country wants answers to those questions, which touch upon not just our soldiers but every Indian who wants to know what went wrong in Galwan Valley on June 15, he added.

In fact, said Captain Amarinder, Rahul had been discussing the China issue with him for a long time, and had been concerned about the matter even while the central government was vehemently denying any stand-off in Galwan. Pointing to the latest statements from the Prime Minister on no intrusion having taken place in the region, he asked how the Chinese were now backing off without having entered Indian territory in the first place. These are the kind of questions being raised by Rahul, he noted, adding that instead of answering them, the Government of India, led by BJP, continues to be in denial even now.

Reacting to Nadda’s criticism of Rahul for not attending a single meeting of the Standing Committee on Defence, Captain Amarinder questioned the relevance of this to the Galwan Valley stand-off. The Committee does not take on-ground decisions relating to the battle field, he remarked, adding that it was not the Standing Committee which decided on sending soldiers to the borders with either no or inadequate arms and ammunition. Nor does it make policy decisions on conditions in which the soldiers should or should not open fire, he commented.

Even matters that are discussed in these meetings, such as those related to equipment shortage/procurement etc, just end up getting consigned to the archives, said Captain Amarinder, citing his own experience as a member of the Standing Committee on Defence during his last term as MP.

The Chief Minister, himself an ex-Army man, recalled that at one meeting he had attended he had raised the issue of shortage of ammunition, and was told that the problem would be resolved in five years, to which he had quipped “let’s ask Pakistan and China to wait for five years.” Even during Kargil war, India had to purchase ammunition at higher prices from countries like Israel and South Africa, he noted, adding that soldiers are forced to use practice ammunition in combat due to this long-standing ammunition shortage.  He termed these meetings as simply a forum to “show our faces” with no concrete results emerging from the deliberations.

Contrary to Nadda’s charge of Rahul demoralising the nation and questioning the valour of our armed forces, the Congress MP was actually looking after the interests of the country and our forces, Captain Amarinder said. Quite apart from the fact that Rahul has the democratic right, like every other Indian, to question the government, the issues raised by him are important for ensuring that we are not caught napping again and do not end up unnecessarily sacrificing the precious lives of our soldiers, as happened in Galwan, he added.

The Chief Minister also flayed Nadda’s remarks on `dynastic tradition’, pointing out that Rahul got elected to the Lok Sabha by popular vote, and not due to his family connections. By questioning his credibility as an MP and as an intelligent Indian, the ruling part was only exposing the central government’s total failure in Galwan, which had cost the nation dearly in terms of precious human life, he added.

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