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Sushma, Rajnath to Reach Out to Opposition Amid India-China Standoff

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13 July 2017

New Delhi: Even as the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Doklam plateau is now in its fourth week, the government is making efforts to reach out to the Opposition and brief them on the current situation.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are expected to brief a host of Opposition leaders on Thursday at Rajnath’s residence.

Invitations have been extended to the Parliamentary leaders of all major Opposition parties from Congress to JD(U) to Trinamool to Left. This measure in itself is quite extraordinary.

The Opposition has often in the past accused the government of keeping it in the dark on important policy matters. Some of the most significant decisions taken by the Narendra Modi government like demonetization have been done without keeping the opposition in the loop.

Even on foreign policy matters it is rare for a government to consult or inform the Opposition.

On its Pakistan policy for example, the government has made numerous U-turns, first trying to isolate Pakistan, then Modi and Sushma travelling to that country, and finally after the Pathankot attack, again going back to trying to isolate Pakistan.

But the feeling within the government is China is a completely different kettle of fish. The government wants to ensure that this issue is not hyped up by Opposition parties during the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament. Hence, this outreach.

Over the last four weeks of this standoff, the Ministry of External Affairs has issued only one statement compared to the bellicose briefings by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, virtually on a daily basis.

The feeling within government is to play down the faceoff with China at the level of optics. But on the ground the troops have been given standing instructions not to cede an inch to the Chinese.

The fear in South Block is China is using the same playbook it used against the Japanese and the Filipinos in their respective islands’ disputes.

“With China it’s always two steps forward, one step back,” explained one official to illustrate how China has changed the status quo both in the South and East China seas.

Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the Chinese Ambassador has also not gone down well with the ruling establishment as it is being seen as an attempt to fish in troubled waters.

Hence the government realizes the need to carry the Opposition on board any policy changes it might make with regard to our most important and dangerous neighbour.(CNN-News18)

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