Opposition persists with demand for debate on border issue with China border, walks out when it is disallowed

Former Finance and Home Minister P. Chidambaram asked whether the border situation had been discussed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali

December 19, 2022 09:28 pm | Updated 09:30 pm IST

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping. | Photo Credit: AP

Opposition stepped up the attack on government over incursions by China, with members staging a walk-out on December 19, 2022 after a debate was disallowed by the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. Later in the day, while participating in a debate on supplementary demands for grants, Congress leader P. Chidambaram asked if the border situation was discussed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 summit at Bali, Indonesia on November 15.

“I saw a video clip of the PM meeting China President at Bali and they were shaking hands. Our PM did the talking. In that short clip, I didn’t see Xi say anything. I just want to know if, without getting into details, was the border situation discussed. Just tell me yes or no. You are asking ₹500 crore for the border and I am entitled to ask this question. Why is there such a reluctance to say if the PM discussed it or not?” Mr. Chidambaram said.

He said the government was asking for ₹500 crore for defence capex for strategic roads. “Without a murmur, the government will be granted that amount. But I want answers to a few questions — these are strategic border roads in the northeast. Now we know who is the threat in the northeastern border, northern and eastern border. Has China conceded anything on Hot Springs? Have the Chinese agreed to discuss the friction points in the Doklam junction and in Depsang….You are creating more buffer zones? What does a buffer zone mean? According to our information, it means that will be a no patrol area. Does it mean that we are no longer patrolling where we were patrolling?” the former Finance and Home Minister asked.

“We know they have built roads, bridges, settlements, helipads and communications. What is it that China is building?” Mr. Chidambaram said.

Earlier in the day, Rajya Sabha Chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar rejected all nine notices under Rule 267 saying they had not been drafted in accordance with the rules. He said disruptions of House proceedings were not sending good signals and that he had asked certain members to see him in his chamber over last week’s disruptions.

Leader of the Opposition and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the Chairperson has all powers and could allow a discussion.

Without disclosing either the content, or the names of the members who had moved the notices, Mr. Dhankar said he could not give attention to any notice that was “deficient” or that “miserably fails minimum requirement of the fulfilment of rules”.

“I painfully report to you that loss of more than 100 minutes of disruption on December 13, 15 and 16 has sent not a good signal,” he said, adding that besides causing loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer, the time meant discussions on public issues had also been wasted.

Mr. Kharge said that China has encroached on Indian land and is building bridges, and this issue was of national importance and hence should be discussed.

Leader of the House and Union Minister Piyush Goyal countered Mr. Kharge, saying Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh had last week indicated past instances when sensitive issues were not discussed. He then said that in 2012, the then UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government had informed the House that China was in illegal possession of 38,000 sq. km. of Indian land.

Opposition parties protested and after a brief period of sloganeering, staged a walk-out.

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