Ladakh face-off | Tone down nationalist rhetoric, says Deve Gowda

June 19, 2020 05:43 pm | Updated June 20, 2020 12:50 am IST - Bengaluru

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. File

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. File

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has argued for toning down "nationalist rhetoric" and cautioned against calls for economic boycott in the backdrop of Galwan valley clashes.

In his letter on Friday, Mr. Gowda, while stating that he fully appreciates the Prime Minister’s decision to call for a meeting of Opposition leaders to discuss the India-China situation and to ensure a bipartisan environment for discussions, urged that “nationalist rhetoric should be toned down” in order to ensure that the matter is not escalated.

Mr. Gowda also warned the government against encouraging “reactionary language of economic boycott” which can have deep implications. “We should here be guided by pragmatism,” he said.

Speaking of media outlets “spreading fake information and cheap rhetoric”, he said it could end up endangering the lives of soldiers and diplomatic staff. “This is not the time for a language of provocation and revenge,” he said, warning particularly about social media.

He suggested that a senior serving military officer and a senior serving diplomat 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 Opposition leaders. Most of the information that is now available to us is from the media, and it cannot be always trusted as accurate. The demand here is not for classified details, but truthful information,” he said in the letter.

Mr. Gowda also urged Opposition leaders not to use intemperate language. “This is an hour for cooperation. Domestic politics and national security interests cannot be equated. Having said this, I do not mean we should not question the government. It should be done keeping in mind that there are larger issues at stake.”

Mr. Gowda said that it is the duty of political leadership to quell anxiety that “we are engulfed by hostile nations” with proper information. “Underplaying certain developments and overstating certain information may be a bad strategy in the long run,” he said.

The former Prime Minister also warned against the “effort to politicise the armed forces” which he described as “dangerous.” “They should be allowed to remain a professional force. When they remain a professional force, they will advise the government of the day fearlessly and correctly," he said.

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