Rahul skips defence panel meetings, says BJP chief

CWC Rahul Gandhi adamant
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New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda on Monday questioned former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s persistent absence from meetings of the parliamentary standing committee on defence and said his recent comments on the India-China standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh demoralised Indian forces.

“Rahul Gandhi does not attend a single meeting of Standing Committee on Defence. But sadly, he continues to demoralise the nation, question the valour of our armed forces and do everything that a responsible opposition leader should not do,” Nadda tweeted.

The Congress responded by accusing the BJP of resorting to “cheap distractions and stunts to manage headlines” during the India-China border standoff.

As per the records on the Lok Sabha’s website, the committee met 11 times between September 2019 and March 2020 and Gandhi did not attend any of the meetings.

While Gandhi has been critical of the government over its handling of the crisis, the BJP has accused the Congress of politicising the issue.

“Rahul Gandhi belongs to that glorious dynastic tradition where as far as defence is concerned, committees don’t matter, only commissions do. Congress has many deserving members who understand parliamentary matters but one dynasty will never let such leaders grow. Really sad,” he tweeted.

The defence committee, headed by BJP’s Jual Oram, has 31 members in all — 10 from the Rajya Sabha and 21 from the Lok Sabha.

Gandhi is not the only member who skipped the meetings. While the first meeting was attended by 20 members, , the subsequent meetings saw lower attendance.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao sought an explanation from Gandhi for not attending the meetings and also asked why he skipped a field visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which proved to be a very important visit for the committee.

“He and his party have nominated him as a member on this very important standing committee which deals with all matters dealing with defence and armed forces. We demand an explanation from Rahul Gandhi as to why he chose to be absent from all the meetings of Standing Committee on Defence, of which he is a member,” Rao said.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala responded in a series of tweets.

“Dear Nadda Ji, Daily insidious comments are making you look like a poorer version of malicious BJP spokespersons. Had the BJP & Modi Govt spent its energy in fighting China & supporting our Armed Forces, you wouldn’t need to lie on Chinese transgressions to mislead the Nation,” he tweeted.

Surjewala then went to pose questions to the BJP chief on the defence preparedness of the country.

“Did the Estimates Committee of Parliament headed by Ex BJP President, Sh. M.M.Joshi submit a report citing that Defence Expenditure was ‘lowest since 1962’-lowest in 56 yrs? Is this Modi Govt’s way of enhancing the morale of our Armed Forces?” he asked in one .

“Why did Modi Govt shelve the creation of 90,000 strong “Mountain Strike Corps” to be carved out as a counter measure to Chinese build up on our borders? Why did you deny our Armed Forces this strategic fire power to take on the Chinese forces?” he said in a second tweet.

“Why has China committed 2,264 transgressions on our territory since 2015 under Modi Govt (Year 2015-428, Yr 2016-296, Yr 2017-473, Yr 2018-404, Yr 2019-663)? Why did the BJP Govt not act upon this pre-meditated Chinese design?” Surjewala asked in another tweet.