- "Disinformation is no substitute for decisive leadership": Manmohan Singh
- PM Modi must "ensure justice for Colonel Babu and our jawans, he said
- It was Manmohan Singh's first response to the deadly face-off in Ladakh
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a statement today on the Ladakh clash in which 20 soldiers were killed, said the Prime Minister must "always be mindful of the implications of his words" -- an apparent reference to the controversy over PM Narendra Modi's comments at an all-party meeting on Friday.
The former PM also said the Prime Minister and the government must "rise to the occasion to ensure justice for Colonel B. Santosh Babu and our jawans who have made the ultimate sacrifice and resolutely defended our territorial integrity."
To do any less "would be a historic betrayal of the people's faith," said Manmohan Singh, in his first response to the deadly face-off on June 15 at Galwan Valley.
"At this moment, we stand at historic cross-roads. Our government's decisions and actions will have serious bearings on how the future generations perceive us. Those who lead us bear the weight of a solemn duty. And in our democracy that responsibility rests with the office of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must always be mindful of the implications of his words and declarations on our Nation's security as also strategic and territorial interests," Manmohan Singh said.
On Friday, at an all-party meeting, PM Modi had said: "Neither is anyone inside our territory nor are any of our posts captured".
The Congress seized on the statement and questioned whether the Prime Minister meant Indian Territory had been ceded to China. The PM's office said on Saturday that an attempt was being made to give a "mischievous interpretation" to PM Modi's remarks.
"Prime Minister's observations that there was no Chinese presence on our side of the LAC pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces. The sacrifices of the soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment foiled the attempt of the Chinese side to erect structures and also cleared the attempted transgression at this point of the LAC on that day," the government said.
Manmohan Singh said China was brazenly and illegally seeking to claim parts of Indian territory such as the Galwan Valley and the Pangong Tso Lake by committing multiple incursions since April. "We cannot and will not be cowed down by threats and intimidation nor permit a compromise with our territorial integrity. The Prime Minister cannot allow them to use his words as a vindication of their position and must ensure that all organs of the government work together to tackle this crisis and prevent it from escalating further," he said.
"This is a moment where we must stand together as a nation and be united in our response to this brazen threat. We remind the government that disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership. The truth cannot be suppressed by having pliant allies spout comforting but false statements," said the two-time Prime Minister, appearing to refer to the political leaders who praised PM Modi's stand at the all-party meeting.
In a sharp response to the comments, BJP president JP Nadda called the former PM's statement "mere wordplay" and added: "One only wishes that Dr. Singh was as worried about Chinese designs when, as PM, he abjectly surrendered hundreds of square kilometres of India's land to China. He presided over 600 incursions made by China between 2010 to 2013!"