India-China border tension will be in focus as the Parliament's Monsoon session begins today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to Ladakh in July along the India-China border where troops have been amassing on both sidesIANS
  • The Monsoon parliamentary session is set to kick off in India today with ministers adhering to social distancing and the houses of Parliament meeting in two shifts.
  • A total of 47 items will be up for discussion in 18 sittings spread out over the next 18 days.
  • The India-China border issue isn’t on the docket, but the opposition has said it plans to question the Prime Minister Narendra Modi about some of the statements that he has made with respect to the situation.
The Monsoon parliamentary session begins today, and the border dispute between India and China will be a hot topic of discussion between the ruling party and the opposition — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress.

According to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, the Monsoon session of Parliament will include 18 sittings spread across 18 days with a total of 47 items on the docket - 45 bills and two financial items. Meanwhile, the opposition plans to bring up India’s border issue with China for debate today.

On Sunday, Congress chief Jairam Ramesh told reporters that the party along with other like-minded cohorts would be raising the issue of what’s happening at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the state of the Indian economy, and how things were managed during the coronavirus pandemic — in addition to opposing four of the proposed ordinances.

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“We need a discussion on China. Parliament is a place for debate and discussion, not for running away,” he said.

However, the BJP is reportedly prepared. Sources told NDTV that the government is likely to make a statement during the Monsoon session.

Just last week, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart, Wi Yang, agreed on the five-point plan to de-escalate matter along the border. “The current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. The border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” said the statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

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Experts weigh in
Experts point out that the shift in the narrative after a four-month face-off in Ladakh could only be temporary in order to throw water in a heated situation. “Given a chance, both armies would want to avoid that (war),” retired Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia told the BBC.

Chinese media is also busy poking holes with the narrative that the diplomatic and military narratives of India seem to be at odds.

Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University in China, wrote “Some experts pointed out that narratives and moves from India's Ministry of External Affairs seem to differ from the Indian Ministry of Defense, and they hold an unclear attitude on whether India will carry out the consensus,” in the Global Times, a Chinese state-run herald.

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Congress to question Modi’s remarks
According to Ramesh, India’s situation concerning China has ‘weakened’ due to some of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statements — like the ‘no-intrusion’ remark back in June after the Galwan Valley clash that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an undisclosed number of casualties on the Chinese side.

“The greatest damage to our cause has been done by the Prime Minister’s own statement. He owes an explanation,” said Ramesh.

The Prime Minister’s Office later issued a clarification that the media was twisting Modi’s words and putting out a ‘mischievous interpretation’. The statement asserted that Modi does recognise that over 43,000 square kilometers of territory “had been yielded under circumstances with which this country is well aware.”

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While the India-China border dispute will certainly be on the docket, the question remains on how much time will it take away from bills and ordinances that are up for debate.

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