Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee are among the leaders expected to participate in an all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this evening to discuss the India-China clash at Ladakh. But two prominent exclusions are the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Lalu Yadav’s RJD.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dialed all party presidents last evening to invite them to the meeting.
RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav questioned in a Tweet why his party was not invited.
Dear @DefenceMinIndia@PMOIndia, Just wish to know the criteria for inviting political parties for tomorrow’s #AllPartyMeet on #GalwanValley. I mean the grounds of inclusion/exclusion. Because our party @RJDforIndia hasn’t received any message so far.
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) June 18, 2020
On the AAP and RJD being kept out, sources said only parties with at least five members in parliament have been invited. Arvind Kejriwal’s party has four MPs.
An upset AAP leader Sanjay Singh tweeted in Hindi: “There is a strange ego-driven government at the centre. AAP has a government in Delhi and is main opposition in Punjab. But on a vital subject, AAP’s views are not needed? The country is waiting for what the Prime Minister will say at the meeting.”
But the RJD has five and should have made it to the list, party leader Manoj Kumar Jha pointed out on Twitter. “An all-party meet should mean that all of us should be allowed to put forward our views,” Mr Jha told NDTV.
— Manoj Kumar Jha (@manojkjhadu) June 19, 2020
The Congress and other opposition parties have been questioning the government on the deadly face-off with China in the Galwan Valley area in eastern Ladakh on Monday, in which 20 soldiers were killed. There were heavy casualties also on the Chinese side in the biggest military escalation between the neighbours in nearly five decades. Beijing has released no official figures, but army sources say at least 45 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured.
Some 76 soldiers were injured as the Chinese assaulted them with hand-made weapons like spiked clubs, rods wrapped in barbed wire and rocks.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi yesterday commented on Twitter that Indian soldiers were sent “unarmed to martyrdom” in the brutal clash, which provoked a rebuttal from Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
“How dare China kill our UNARMED soldiers? Why were our soldiers sent UNARMED to martyrdom,” Rahul Gandhi had tweeted.
The Foreign Minister responded: “Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been upset with the centre’s stance in the fight against coronavirus, said the all-party meeting was a right decision and her party Trinamool Congress would stand by the country in the hour of crisis. Ms Banerjee will attend the meeting, her party leaders said.
Others expected to attend the meeting are Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Sharad Pawar, Jagan Mohan Reddy of YSR Congress, Nitish Kumar of JD-U, DMK’s MK Stalin, Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party and CPM’s Sitaram Yechury.