Stating that matters related to national security shouldn’t be politicised and recalling the 1962 war with China, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday (June 27) said that the Galwan Valley incident cannot be labelled as a failure of the defence minister.
Responding to a query about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had surrendered Indian territory to the Chinese aggression, Pawar also said that one cannot forget China had captured 45,000 sq kms Indian land after the 1962 war.
Gandhi’s charge had come in the wake of the clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15 night, during which at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed, leading to an escalation in tensions between the two Asian neighbours.
He also said that the Galwan Valley incident cannot immediately be labelled as a failure of Defence Minister, as Indian soldiers were alert during patrolling. He said the entire episode is ‘sensitive’ in nature, and it was China which played the provocateur in the Galwan Valley.
The former defence minister further said that India had been constructing a road in Galwan Valley within its limits meant for communication purposes.
“What happened was they (the Chinese troops) tried to encroach on our road and were pushed physically. It was not somebody’s failure. If somebody comes (within your territory) while you are patrolling, they may come at any time. We cannot say it is the failure of the defence minister sitting in Delhi,” Pawar said.
“Patrolling was on there. There was scuffle, which means you were alert. Had you not been, you would not even have realised when the they (Chinese troops) came and went. Hence, I don’t think it is right to make such an allegation at this juncture,” he said.
Pawar said that one cannot forget that China captured around 45,000 sq km of India’s land, after the 1962 war between the two countries, when asked about the charges raised by the former Congress chief, Rahul Gandhi.
“That land is still with China. I don’t know if they (China) have encroached on some area now again. But when I make an allegation, I should also see what had happened when I was there (in power). If such big land was encroached upon then, it cannot be ignored. It is a matter of national security and it should not be politicised is what I feel,” he said.
Asked about BJP MLC Gopichand Padalkar’s recent remark against him, Pawar said that the legislator was rejected by voters in the elections previously and there is no need to take note of his remark. Padalkar had said “Pawar was a corona that has infected Maharashtra.”
Pawar also made light of former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ claim that the NCP had wanted to join hands with the BJP two years ago. “Right now, he has a lot of time. Hence, he keeps something or the other for publicity,” Pawar quipped.
(With inputs from agencies)