India-China tension: In 1962, Vajpayee demanded debate in the middle of war. Neh

Started by Kumar G, Sep 16, 2020, 11:09 PM

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Kumar G

India-China tension: In 1962, Vajpayee demanded debate in the middle of war. Nehru agreed

China had launched a war against India on October 20, 1962. In the middle of that war, then-PM Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a demand made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to hold a debate in Parliament

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"Why is the government running away from a debate if it believes all is well on the Line of Actual Control," the Congress has asked as it intensifies its campaign for a discussion on the ongoing India-China military standoff in eastern Ladakh.

Read: Why is the Modi govt running away from debate on India-China border tension, asks Congress

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement in Parliament on Tuesday on India-China tension in Ladakh but the Narendra Modi government has declined the Congress's demand for a debate on the issue. Rajnath Singh, in his statement, talked about the "sensitive" nature of the situation.

Read: Want peace, ready for war: Rajnath Singh lists pacts China has violated

"This is still an ongoing situation and obviously involves sensitive operational issues. I would, therefore, not be able to give more details in public and I am confident about the understanding of the House in this regard," Rajnath Singh said.

The government's stand is, however, in sharp contrast to what happened in the past, particularly in 1962, when the situation was more sensitive and graver.


Back then, China had launched a war against India on October 20, 1962. The buildup was there for several months beginning in the summers. On October 26, the then Nehru government had declared a national emergency to deal with Chinese aggression.

In the middle of the war, then Jan Sangh leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a first-time Rajya Sabha MP, demanded a special session of Parliament. Vajpayee, who later became the founder-president of the BJP, pressed for a discussion the India-China war situation.

Vajpayee led a four-member delegation of Jan Sangh parliamentary party to meet then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru seeking a special session of Parliament. Nehru agreed to his demand.

Vajpayee was young, 36 at the time, and Nehru was exactly twice his age, 72.

The special session of Parliament was convened on November 8. The war was still on and the Chinese were advancing into Indian territories. Vajpayee's was one of the smallest parties in Parliament then, and the Nehru government enjoyed a two-thirds majority.

As the Nehru government decided to discuss the India-China war situation in Parliament, a suggestion came up that the special sitting should a "secret session". Nehru rejected the suggestion saying the issues before the House are of "high interest to the whole country".

Vajpayee got his chance to speak on the second day of discussion November 9. He launched a scathing attack on Nehru government's foreign and defence policies.

He accused the Nehru government of leaving the defence of India compromised calling it "the great sin". Vajpayee said "it is a matter of great shame" that the soldiers did not have proper weapons and supplies at the borders even 15 years after Independence.

One key commitment made by Vajpayee in his speech was that "the stain of our humiliation and defeat would not be wiped out until we had swept the last Chinese from our soil". The Chinese forces are still in occupation of Aksai Chin among others.

Interestingly, several decades later when Vajpayee was the prime minister and Pakistan had intruded into Kargil, he had refused a debate during the 1999 military conflict in the Rajya Sabha. His government found it too sensitive to discuss the issue in public.

The Narendra Modi government, too, has described the border tension with China as very sensitive and said it is not prudent to discuss operation details in the public.

The Modi government is instead understood to hold a confidential meeting with some of the Opposition leaders to brief them on the current India-China face-off situation along the LAC.

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