AA Edit | Govt must listen to all MPs, disclose situation at border

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

The BJP and its allies must realise that all those who criticise the government are not traitors

Congress MPs Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, KC Venugopal and other members stage a protest near the Gandhi Statue demanding discussion on national security and Indo-China border dispute issue during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. (Photo: PTI)

The Winter Session of Parliament is likely to end on Friday with no discussion on the latest episode of what India calls as China’s “attempts to unilaterally change the Line of Actual Control”. The eastern border has been quite restive for the past five years ever since the Doklam incursion right through the Ladakh skirmishes last year and now the clashes in Tawang.

In the normal course, the government should lay before Parliament, and through it, the people of India, the information it wants citizens to be aware of with regard to the developments on the border. But unfortunately, it has not expressed its readiness to do the same despite repeated protests by the Opposition. Instead, members of the Treasury benches have gone on the offensive on Wednesday, demanding an apology from Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Opposition in the House, for the speech he delivered in Alwar on the Bharat Jodo Yatra.  

Upset with the BJP seeking the expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from the Congress for questioning the government’s position on the border, Mr Kharge berated the government for being intolerant to criticism and branding dissenters as traitors. His claim that those who have no role in the freedom movement are posing as patriots and members of the party whose leaders and workers died for the country are being termed deshdrohis as well as his blunt attack on the BJP and its predecessors when he said that “not even a dog from the BJP” died during the freedom struggle have infuriated the ruling party and its allies.

To add insult to injury, he contended that the government “talks like a lion but acts like a mouse”. While Treasury bench MPs insisted on an apology, he would have none of it. A statement made outside the House need not be a subject for discussion, was his stand. The ruckus forced vice-president and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to chide not just the Opposition but also the ruling party members, reminding them that “135 crore people” were “laughing”.    

Political discourses in and outside Parliament should be conducted in the most formal manner. One need not hurt the feelings of others to make a point. Such discourses indeed help people get a 360-degree view of urgent matters and arrive at their own conclusions.

One fails to understand what stops the government from taking up the topic of Chinese incursions for discussion inside Parliament so that a national consensus can be built. At regular intervals, a meddlesome China is seen breaching the Indian border. It cannot be military or administrative actions alone that can safeguard it; popular support is a key determinant to that cause.

The BJP and its allies must realise that all those who criticise the government are not traitors. All who point a finger at the government’s shortcomings are not there to insult the Prime Minister. He himself is not above criticism or scrutiny. There is little point in anyone getting touchy when opponents make unqualified attacks. They should, instead, take the criticism in their stride and be confident enough to disclose to the citizens the state of the border. Attempts to reduce all issues into binaries and measure criticism with a nationalistic scale only expose the weakness of the government, giving rise to the idea that it has something to hide.