The real tribute to soldiers would be to protect India’s sovereignty, says Sonia

Congress president Sonia Gandhi. File

Congress president Sonia Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

The real tribute to Colonel Santosh Babu and other officers who were killed at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during a face-off with the Chinese army on June 15 would be to guard India’s sovereignty and to foil the Chinese incursions, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort, had said, “whether it was the LAC or the LoC (Line of Control), whenever anyone has tried to violate the territorial integrity of the country, our jawans have answered the challenge in the same language as it was issued”. He did not directly refer to China in his 90-minute long speech.

In a statement in Hindi, Ms. Gandhi said that it has been 60 days since the martyrdom of Colonel Santosh Babu and 20 other jawans at Galwan Valley. While offering tributes to them, she urged the government to give the martyred soldiers due respect. “The real tribute to these soldiers would be to protect India’s sovereignty and to foil the Chinese incursions into our land,” Ms. Gandhi said.

‘Democracy in danger’

She accused the Modi government of standing against Indian democratic and Constitutional values. Ms. Gandhi said, “Today, every countryman needs to look within and think, ‘what does freedom mean?’ Are they free today to write, to speak, to ask questions, to disagree, to seek accountability?”

As a responsible Opposition, she said, the Congress would work towards keeping India’s democratic freedom intact. “India’s democratic structure has often come under stress in the last 74 years of independence, but every time it has been tested, it has only emerged stronger,” Ms. Gandhi said. But today, she said, it was once again in danger, since the government of the day saw itself in conflict with established values and norms. “This is an hour of crisis for the Indian democracy,” she said.

Ms. Gandhi also expressed confidence about overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, speaking at a webinar organised by the party on the occasion, said that PM Modi had talked about constructing a new India in his Independence Day address. “This new India is a negation of the India established by our Constitution,” said Mr. Yechury. He said that while on August 15 India may have got freedom, “we saw [on] August 5th an assault on our Constitutional values”, in a reference to the end of Kashmir’s special status after the amendment to Article 370, and the PM’s participation in the Ram temple stone-laying ceremony at Ayodhya.

The Communist Party of India’s (CPI) general secretary D. Raja said that the PM Modi’s speech was “packed with rhetoric and empty promises”.

“He spoke about a self-reliant India, however, his policies are contrary to it. The Prime Minister and his government has been systematically privatising all public sector units. In fact, Mr. Modi will be known for privatising all the nation’s assets,” Mr. Raja said.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 5:53:23 AM |

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