Sonia couches concerns in unity call

New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday affirmed at a meeting called by the Prime Minister that the Congress and the entire Opposition will rally behind the battle-ready defence forces.

Deftly changing gears, she asked in the same breath: "But the question is, what next? What is the way forward? The entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert to the original position on the Line of Actual Control."

She wanted the government to take all opposition parties and the country into confidence and brief them regularly, so as to present to the world a picture of unity and solidarity. She said the meeting should have come sooner and immediately after the Chinese intrusion on May 15.

Couching her address in the need for solidarity, she also raised critical questions. "Even at this late stage, we are still in the dark about many crucial aspects of the crisis. We have some specific questions for the Government: On which date did the Chinese troops intrude into our territory in Ladakh? When did the government find out about the Chinese transgressions into our territory? Was it on May 5th, as reported, or earlier," Sonia asked.

Wanting to know the current status of the Mountain Strike Corps, with two mountain infantry divisions, sanctioned in 2013, she asked the government to accord it the utmost priority.

"Does the government not receive, on a regular basis, satellite pictures of the borders of our country? Did our external intelligence agencies not report any unusual activity along the LAC? Did the Military Intelligence not alert the government about the intrusion and the build-up of massive forces along the LAC, whether on the Chinese or on the Indian side? In the government’s considered view, was there a failure of intelligence?"

Sonia said the Congress believes valuable time was lost between May 5 and June 6, the date on which the corps commanders met. She regretted that India failed to use all avenues, stressing that the talks should have been at the political and diplomatic levels with the leadership of China.

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