In an interesting turn of events, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat on Friday appeared before a parliamentary panel on defence amid the standoff between India and China along the LAC in Ladakh. This was probably the first time that the Chief of Defence Staff, a new position created in January this year, appeared before the committee.
The official agenda for the meeting was listed as 'provision and monitoring of the quality of ration and livery items to the Defence forces, especially in border areas'. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, during the meeting, asked about recent developments on the LAC and sought details and presentation on the situation at LAC.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence is chaired by BJP leader Jual Oram. Members who attended the meeting on Friday, included Pawar and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Later, defence ministry representatives responded that these questions have been noted down. During the meeting, Rahul questioned about difference in food served to soldiers and officers in army, the sources said.
Responding to his questions, representatives of the army said there is no difference in the quality or quantity of food served to soldiers or officers. It is being served as per their tastes and food habits, they said.
Rahul attended this committee's meeting for the first time since being nominated to the panel last year.
The committee consist of 31 Members; 21 Members from Lok Sabha, nominated by the Speaker, Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha. The committee is entrusted with considering the Demands for Grants of the Ministry of Defence, oversee the Annual Report of the Ministry of Defence, and consider National Basic Long-Term Policy documents presented to the Houses.
The Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) have been locked in a tense standoff in multiple areas along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since early May. Shots were fired across the LAC on Monday for the first time in 45 years with the two sides accusing each other of firing in the air.
However, the two countries reached an agreement during talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday evening for a five-point roadmap including quick disengagement of troops and avoiding any action that could escalate tensions for resolving the four-month-long face-off, while noting that the current situation at their border is not in the interest of either side.