Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi finally chose to make an appearance at the parliamentary panel on defence a day after Indian and Chinese foreign ministers held talks over the border situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. While the talks were not path-breaking, both ministers stressed the need to normalise things.
So far, Gandhi has not attended any of the committee meetings despite being one of the most vocal critics of the government over its China policy.
Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat also appeared before the parliamentary panel. While the official agenda for the meeting was listed as 'provision and monitoring of the quality of ration and livery items to the Defence forces, especially in border areas', some members had said they will raise the issue of the Ladakh situation.
At the committee meeting, Gandhi questioned why there is a difference in diets between the jawans and officers stationed at the borders. Interestingly, this is an issue that has been raised by a few soldiers in the past, such as Tej Bahadur Yadav who later faced disciplinary action.
The reason why Gandhi raised this question was also because he has been pitching for the jawans at the border who he feels are the ones paying the price for what he calls the government's opaque China policy. However, the government has dismissed this criticism by saying there is a difference in the food habits of jawans and officers as the former generally hail from a rural background.
As the defence committee meeting ended, Gandhi in a tweet said, "The only 'talk' to have with China is about restoration of ‘Status Quo Ante’ as of March 2020. PM & GOI refuse to take responsibility for pushing China out of our land. All other 'talk' is worthless."
The only “talk” to have with China is about restoration of ‘Status Quo Ante’ as of March 2020.PM & GOI refuse to take responsibility for pushing China out of our land.All other “talk” is worthless.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 11, 2020
Despite some reservation in the Congress, Gandhi is convinced that China is a powerful weapon with which to attack the government. And for a party which has been attacked for being against soldiers, Gandhi is hoping to strike the right chord by raising the issue.