Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday dubbed BJP president J P Nadda's criticism of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the Galwan Valley issue as a "desperate" attempt to distract public attention from the Centre's "failure".
On Monday, Nadda had attacked the Congress leader for "not attending a single meeting" of the Parliament's standing committee on defence and accused him of trying to "demoralise" the nation.
Reacting to it, the Punjab CM said after having "failed" to respond to Rahul Gandhi's persistent and relevant questions on the issue, the BJP-led Union government was now trying "desperately" to distract people with a personal attack on him.
"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 said in a statement here.
The CM said Rahul had been discussing the China issue with him for a long time and had been concerned about the matter even while the Centre was vehemently denying any standoff in Galwan.
Pointing to the latest statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he asked how the Chinese were now backing off without having entered the 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 the BJP, "continues to be in denial" even now.
Reacting to the Nadda's criticism of Rahul for not attending a single meeting of the standing committee on defence, Singh questioned the relevance of this to the standoff.
The committee does not take on-ground decisions relating to the battle field, he said.
"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," said Singh.
Even matters that are discussed in these meetings, such as those related to equipment shortage/procurement, just end up getting consigned to the archives, said the CM, citing his own experience as a member of the standing committee on defence during his last term as an MP.
The chief minister, himself an ex-Army man, recalled that at one meeting he had attended, he had raised the issue of the 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 the Kargil war, India had to purchase ammunition at higher prices from countries like Israel and South Africa, he said, adding that soldiers are forced to use practice ammunition in combat due to this long-standing shortages.
He termed these meetings as simply a forum to "show our faces" with "no concrete" results emerging from the deliberations.
Contrary to the Nadda's charge of Rahul demoralising the nation and questioning the valour of armed forces, the Congress MP was actually looking after the interests of the country and forces, the CM asserted.
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 precious lives of our soldiers, as happened in Galwan," he said.
The CM also flayed the Nadda's remarks on "dynastic tradition", stating 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 party 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.