UPA acts spineless, Beijing continues to provoke
NDA tells UPA: Govern properly or go
Dr Shakti Kr Pandey
As the UPA government continues to play down the Chinese incursion, the PLA troops appear in no hurry to vacate the Indian territory they occupied unchallenged in Ladakh on April 15. Despite three flag meetings between the military officers of both the countries and assertions by the Government of India that all efforts are being taken to get the Chinese Army to withdraw, the intruding personnel pitched a fifth tent in the region. Not only this, the PLA troops have also started converting a kuchcha tract into a pucca road near the site of the intrusion in Ladakh. UVA images suggest that the kuchcha tract was being used to get supplies from a place, which is 25 km from the face-off site and a Border Defense Regiment is deployed by China. Sources said the conversion of the kuchcha tract into a road indicated that the Chinese intended to stay on at the site of the tents.
It must have rung alarm bells in the South Block, as the message on the wall is clear that our diplomacy is not working. Yet, the UPA regime continues to believe that the ‘localised’ problem will go away on its own. What is equally worrisome is the news that India could be actively considering the demands put forth by Beijing that a withdrawal can happen if New Delhi stops its ‘aggressive patrolling’ along eastern Ladakh and halts construction activity along the stretch of the border in the region.
The Defence experts feel that it has been China’s strategy all through the past decades vis-à-vis India – to occupy alien land, to set terms for withdrawal and retreat after securing its pound of flesh. Yet the UPA Government does not want to acknowledge the reality, which is why it has been downplaying the present incident to the extent that it is even enthusiastically preparing the ground for Union Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid’s trip to China and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s subsequent visit to India.
There has not been even a single assertive step that India has taken so far to indicate its displeasure over the incursion. On the contrary, it has directed the Indian Army not to block the truckloads of supplies that the intruders have been receiving from across the LAC. The argument being, because the border is a subject of dispute; it has not been demarcated; and because there is a difference of ‘perception’ over what territory belongs to whom. Their point that such incursions are somehow normal, is difficult to digest. Since the two countries have been engaged for decades now to resolve the dispute, it is necessary that status quo be maintained till the matter is settled. But China couldn’t be bothered with such niceties.
What is also clear is that Beijing is not in a hurry to resolve the border row. Among the first messages that the new Chinese leadership, which has taken over recently, sent across is that the dispute will take a long, long time to settle. Experts have been pointing out that, while the matter is indeed complicated, there is no justification for it to linger. But it suits the Chinese to prevaricate, because they can then continue to infiltrate, grab Indian territory, and withdraw on their terms. They know from their experience of the last decade that the Congress-led UPA Government is incapable of even strong talk, much less of tough action.
The meekness of the UPA government has disturbed even the defence experts. Anguished over the UPA’s callous approach Col R Hariharan says the Indian national leadership and people appear to have been lulled into the often repeated cliché “our government will take every step to protect the national integrity and security. But words do not protect us in actual war. In 1962 the nation made the same mistake and paid a heavy price that wiped our national confidence, which we have not yet regained while dealing with the Chinese. Are we making the same mistake because the Chinese are sure to exploit this national weakness,” he said.
Strategic affairs analyst, Rajiv Sharma says that China intruded Daulat Beg with full home work, as the area is strategically very crucial. “The Chinese have not forgotten that it was at this place where the Indians had set up its landing strip during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. India reopened this strip and operationalised it five years ago. If a war were to break out between India and China, Daulat Beg would be a key frontline airstrip to launch air strikes against the Chinese,” he says.
Meanwhile, the NDA leaders met President Shri Pranab Mukherjee on May 3 and urged him to convey the UPA government to either govern properly or go. In the memorandum they said the nation is deeply aggrieved and full of anger at the visible drift in the management of the country’s external affairs.