Leading Opposition parties on Friday said they were thoroughly unconvinced by the Narendra Modi government's explanations on the Amarnath terror attack and Doklam stand-off between India and China, and they would raise these issues, particularly the growing unrest in Kashmir, in the Parliament during the upcoming monsoon session that begins on Monday.
Most of the Opposition leaders asked the government to resolve the dispute with China through diplomatic channels and negotiations, and seize the opportunity in Kashmir, where even the Hurriyat leaders have condemned the July 10 terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims, to move beyond the current narrative in the Kashmir Valley.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh hosted the meeting with Opposition leaders at his official residence. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj were also present, as was National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval. The ministers, Foreign and Home Secretaries briefed the Opposition leaders.
An official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Gopal Baglay later said that the Opposition leaders "expressed strong support for India's approach and also for the need for national unity". The importance of engaging through the diplomatic route with regard to the two neighbouring nations was also underlined, added the spokesperson. Leaders also spoke about the "unique" and "close" relationship existing between India and Bhutan, said the official further.
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury and Trinamool Congress' Derak O'Brien, among others, said the government failed to answer their queries on the Amarnath terror attack.
Congress leaders asked three pointed questions on the circumstances that led to the Amarnath terror attack in which seven pilgrims were killed, and later said the government's answers were inadequate. O'Brien said: "The government was aware of the security problem but why didn't it take it seriously? Why the lapse, the failure?" Meanwhile, Yechury said the circumstances of the attack are suspicious since its "unusual" that no terror group has taken responsibility for the attack.
On the Doklam standoff with China, Shiv Sena said the government has indulged in a lot of talk but has initiated no action. India needed to be more aggressive in dealing with China, added the party.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, on the other hand, asked the government to never trust the Chinese. But most others advised negotiations.
Yechury said national interest was paramount and in order to safeguard it, the government should engage in negotiations with China. The ministers agreed and said they were in favour of negotiations and the deployment of diplomatic channels.
But the CPI(M) chief asked as to why such issues with China have "suddenly" arisen. There was no answer to this, and Yechury pointed out the government's recent foreign policy decisions, with its proximity to the US, were giving signals that have become irritants in India-China bilateral ties. He asked the government to "introspect" on India's relations with all its neighbours, even with Bhutan, having soured in the recent past.
According to sources in the meeting, the government also failed to give a convincing answer on the nature of the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping that took place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg. New Delhi had claimed that Modi and Xi discussed "a range of issues", which Beijing had later refuted.
The leaders were also informed that Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and NSA Doval would be visiting China in the coming days. It was also decided that former defence ministers Sharad Pawar and Mulayam Singh Yadav would meet Defence Minister Jaitley. The meeting also apprised the leaders of the projects initiated by the Modi government in Jammu and Kashmir.