U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim on Kashmir mediation led to angry reactions from the Opposition in Parliament on Tuesday, as the government asserted that all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally.
While Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments over the issue, the Opposition walked out of Lok Sabha proceedings demanding a statement from the Prime Minister himself.
Soon after the House met for the day at 11 a.m., Opposition parties raked up the issue of Mr. Trump’s remarks made in the presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The U.S. President had on Monday claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to play the role of a mediator on Kashmir.
Deputy leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said Mr. Trump had stated that Prime Minister of India had at the recent G20 meeting in Osaka in Japan sought his mediation.
India’s position has been consistent and clear on Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and has always maintained that it will not accept third party mediation in purely bilateral issue. Since Parliament is in session and considering that the comments were made by the President of the world’s most powerful nation to the Prime Minister of another country, Prime Minister Modi should come to the House and clarify on the issue, he said.
CPI’s D Raja wanted to know if there was any change in India’s position on third party mediation on Kashmir issue.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said Prime Minister Modi never made any such request to the U.S. leader and reiterated that Kashmir is a bilateral issue.
He said all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally, thereby ruling out any third party mediation.
“I would like to categorically state that no such request has been made by the Prime Minister to the U.S. President,” he said.
The Minister said it has been the consistent position of India that all outstanding issues with Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally.
“Any engagement with Pakistan will require an end to cross-border terrorism,” he said, adding Shimla and Lahore accords signed between India and Pakistan provide the basis for resolution of all issues bilaterally.
Opposition parties were, however, not satisfied by the statement of the External Affairs Minister and wanted the Prime Minister to come to the House and clarify.
This led to heated exchanges between Opposition benches and Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu, who adjourned proceedings for nearly a hour.
In Lok Sabha, the Opposition walked out demanding the Prime Minister’s statement on Mr. Trump’s remarks.
As soon as the Lower House met for the day, members from the Congress and some other Opposition parties were on their feet shouting slogans over the issue.
Later, when the Zero Hour began, Manish Tewari (Congress) said since the statement of Mr. Trump is serious, the Prime Minister himself should clarify.
Saugata Roy (TMC) said it was in contravention to the position held by India. He also rejected any clarification by Jaishankar on the issue.
AIADMK’s T.R. Baalu said since the issue involved the PM, he should personally make a statement in the House.
When Mr. Jaishakar rose to make a statement, it was drowned in protest by the entire Opposition, which then walked out of the proceedings.
Home Minister Amit Shah requested the Speaker to allow Mr. Jaishankar to repeat the statement as it was essential that people hear him clearly.
Amid the ruckus in the House, Speaker Om Birla said it was a serious issue and there should not be any politics over the matter.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said Opposition members were trying to belittle the image of the country.