“China and Pakistan have come together, if there is any war then it will happen with both, there will be a major loss for the country. India is now extremely vulnerable,” Rahul was heard saying in a video on his YouTube channel, while interacting with Armed Forces veterans during the Congress’s ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra.
He told the veterans that he not only has respect for the army but also love and affection. “You defend this nation. This nation would not exist without you.”
On the neighbours, the Congress leader explained India had two enemies China and Pakistan. “Our policy was to keep them separate. It was being said that two-front war should not happen, then people say there is two-and-a-half-front war going on, that is with Pakistan, China and terrorism. But today the war is only on one front as China and Pakistan are together. They are working together not only militarily but also economically.”
Criticising the central government, Rahul said our mindset is still that of two-and-a-half-front war. “Our mindset is not of joint operability and cyber warfare. China and Pakistan are both preparing a surprise for us, which is why I keep repeating that the government cannot keep quiet,” he said, raking up the issue of the recent border clash with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang. “The government should tell people of the country what happened at the border. What action we have to take? Actually, we should have taken steps five years ago but we did not. If we don’t act fast, then there will be a big loss. I am extremely concerned with what is happening at the border in Arunachal and Ladakh,” he added.
On December 13, defence minister Rajnath Singh informed the Rajya Sabha during the Parliament’s Winter Session that China’s PLA troops tried to transgress the Line of Actual Control in Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector on December 9 and unilaterally change the status quo but they went back to their locations due to timely intervention of Indian military commanders.
The defence minister had then assured the Upper House that “our forces are committed to protecting our territorial integrity and will continue to thwart any attempt made on it”.
He also said “the scuffle led to injuries to a few personnel on both sides”, and clarified that “there are no fatalities or serious casualties on our side”.
The statement rocked the Parliament with several Congress MPs demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the situation at the border. The Congress MPs had also given adjournment notices in both houses of the Parliament to discuss the border situation with China.
Three days later Rahul had said China was preparing for war and accused the government of playing down the threat from Beijing. He, however, stirred a controversy by saying that China is “beating up our jawans in Arunachal Pradesh” and has killed 20 Indian soldiers. “The threat from China is clear. They are making offensive preparations for war, not incursions. I have been saying this for the last two years, but the government is trying to hide this or is ignoring it. However, this threat can neither be hidden nor ignored,” Rahul had said at a presser on the 100th day of his Baharat Jodo Yatra, also alleging that China has taken away 2,000 square kilometres of Indian territory.
A day later, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Kiren Rijiju and Anurag Thakur lashed out at Rahul.
Taking to Twitter, Rijiju said, “Rahul Gandhi is not only insulting Indian Army but damaging nation’s image. He is not only a problem for the Congress Party but he has also become a huge embarrassment (for) the country.”
‘What Rahul said is not new, trying to invoke passions’
On Sunday, defence expert Anil Gaur said that what the Congress leader said is not new and that the Army is prepared for any situation.
“In military parley, we are already aware of the threat from China and Pakistan. Even during the Kargil operations, there was always a danger that China would intervene in some way or the other. But it did not. Now although there is a danger that we may have to fight two-and-a-half-front war, the Indian Army is preparing for it so there is nothing new in what he (Rahul) is saying. He is just trying to invoke passions among people that something is going to happen at the borders. Whatever is going to happen, the army is capable of taking care of it.”
The expert advised Rahul to talk against China and Pakistan, “which he never does”. “I am yet to see such statements against China or Pakistan, which have been sending terrorists, from opposition parties and Rahul in particular,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)