While acknowledging that politics should not be played over the India-China border row, former Chief Minister and senior Congressman Prithviraj Chavan said the opposition Congress had the right to question the Centre, and to expect a response, from the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
Whilst not naming him, Mr. Chavans remarks were clearly a pointed response to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawars veiled criticism of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who had ticked off Mr. Modi over the Galwan face-off.
The Congress is not bothering the government with domestic questions. It is the responsibility and the right of the Opposition to question the Centre on its policy. This way, a consensus can be built to deal with the crisis in a true democratic spirit, Mr. Chavan said, speaking to The Hindu on Wednesday.
Soon after the Galwan Valley face-off with China in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, Mr. Gandhi had castigated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having allegedly surrendered Indian territory to Chinese aggression.
When asked about what he thought of Mr. Gandhis jibes at the government, Mr. Pawar had said, We cant forget what had happened in 1962 [When the Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru was in power] when China occupied 45,000 square kilometres of Indias territory. While making these allegations, one should also look at what had happened in the past. This is an issue of national interest and one should not bring in politics.
Mr. Pawars statement triggered unease amongst the Congress, which is in alliance with the NCP and the Shiv Sena in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. In response, Mr. Chavan said that historical references to the past was no help in solving problems of the present. The Congress is questioning the government as it represents the peoples voice& It is pointless to delve into controversies to resolve the current crisis, he said.
Mr. Chavan also criticised the Centre for the rising fuel prices across the country at a time when global oil prices were low. It appears that the Modi government is making up for doling out its COVID-19 relief package of 20 lakh crore with this exorbitant fuel price hike. In May 2014, the price of oil was 107 dollars a barrel and the fuel procurement cost was 9.2 per barrel. Today, at a time when the cost per barrel has come down to 66 dollars, the fuel procurement prices have surged by 350% to 32.98 per barrel, he said.