Close to 20 party presidents will attend an all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to discuss the escalation of tensions with China following the death of 20 Indian Army personnel in clashes at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
Among those in attendance will be Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had skipped Modi's virtual meeting with chief ministers on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here is a list of leaders who are, so far, expected to attend the meeting:
- JP Nadda (BJP)
- Sonia Gandhi (Congress)
- Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool Congress)
- Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena)
- MK Stalin (DMK)
- Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam (AIADMK)
- N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP)
- Jagan Mohan Reddy (YSR Congress)
- Sharad Pawar (NCP)
- Nitish Kumar (JD-U)
- Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party)
- D Raja (CPI)
- Sitaram Yechury (CPM)
- K Chandrashekar Rao (TRS)
- Sukhbir Badal (Akali Dal)
- Chirag Paswan (Lok Janshakti Party)
- Hemant Soren (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha)
On the eve of the all-party meeting, a war of words raged between the BJP and the Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s claim that soldiers were sent "unarmed to martyrdom". He had earlier attacked Modi, asking why he was "hiding".
Hitting back, the BJP called Gandhi the "most irresponsible politician" India has seen. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said India under Modi will win over "three Cs -- Coronavirus, China and the Congress" as it is no longer the India of 1962 when the opposition party was in power.
"You are the most irresponsible politician India has yet seen. Read, understand and then speak. Just don't rant against your country. Don't make such unfounded and misleading claims against your own country to launch your politics," he said.
Several opposition leaders have demanded clarity from the government on circumstances that led to 20 soldiers being killed in clashes with Chinese troops in violent escalation of a months-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control.
The clashes reportedly involved intense hand-to-hand fighting but no gunfire, in line with longstanding practices aimed at avoiding a full military confrontation over the 3,500-kilometre border. According to Indian officials, soldiers were hit with clubs studded with nails and stones.
The Ministry of External Affairs has said that it is using diplomatic channels with China to de-escalate a military standoff.
"Making exaggerated and untenable claims is contrary to this understanding,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said, adding that both sides agreed to handle the situation responsibly.