Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda on Friday pitched for toning down "nationalist rhetoric" and cautioned the government against encouraging calls for economic boycott of Chinese products in the backdrop of the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Gwalwan Valley face-off.
He also said a detailed presentation should be made by a senior serving military officer and diplomat on the ground situation for opposition leaders at the all-party meeting on the border situation for a "meaningful" exchange of views.
Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative in convening the virtual meet on Friday evening, the JD(S) patriarch urged his colleagues in the opposition not to use "intemperate" language. He said the government should not encourage 'reactionary' language of economic boycott. "Its implications are deep. We should be guided by pragmatism," Gowda said in a statement, making a series of suggestions.
He said "nationalist rhetoric" should be toned down in order to ensure that "we do not escalate matters" and this was not the time for a "language of provocation and revenge".
Media outlets "spreading fake information" and "cheap rhetoric" endanger the lives of Indian soldiers and diplomatic staff, said Gowda, during whose tenure as PM in 1996 a pact was signed with China that made it binding on soldiers to exercise self-restraint and go for immediate consultation in case of a face-off.
Also the social media retribution was of particular concern, he said, adding the government should take steps to check this.
"By this I do not mean that critical mainstream opinions, analysis and reporting should be stopped," he added.
His remarks came amid rising voices for boycott of China-made products after a violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh left 20 Indian Army personnel dead early this week.
On Thursday, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan appealed to people to boycott products from China and also directed
officials of his ministry not to procure any Chinese products for day-to-day office use while his ministerial colleague Ramdas Athawale said all restaurants and hotels that sell Chinese food in India should be closed down.
Gowda said he fully appreciated Modi's decision to call the all-party meet. "In national interest, and to ensure a bipartisan environment for discussions, I would like to make the following suggestions."
Gowda suggested that a senior serving military officer and diplomat should make a detailed presentation to opposition leaders on the ground situation, and the progress of talks.
"Only with this information could there be a meaningful exchange of ideas between the government and the opposition
leaders... The demand here is not for classified details, but truthful information," he said.