The allegations of a China nexus are not going to spare the Congress any time soon. Days after revelation of a 2008 Memorandum-of-Understanding (MoU) between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the oldest political party of India, Zanskar Councillor has dropped a new bombshell.
Zee Media has quoted him as saying, “The construction of the Leh-Manali road, which is of great importance in terms of national security, was delayed in the UPA government. From 2004 to 2014, no work was done on any important road, clearly indicating that the Congress showed negligence in the construction of Leh-Manali road, which was to be completed in 2007. The Vajpayee government had approved the Leh-Manali road project.”
He is talking about a key road- the Rohtang Tunnel which will connect Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh, reducing the distance between the two by 46 kilometres.
The 8.8 kilometre-long tunnel was planned by former Prime Minister, late Atal Bihari Vajpayee in June 2000.
The project now stands delayed drastically. It is expected to be inaugurated in September, and upon completion it will be the world’s highest highway tunnel located at a mind boggling altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) above sea-level.
Once completed, the tunnel will offer all-weather connectivity between Manali and Leh, helping the Indian Army and other security forces move towards the China border quickly.
The Zanskar Councillor Lapka says that the UPA government showed leniency in completing the key project by reducing budgetary allocation for infrastructure.
From 2008-2016, Rs 3,300 to 4,600 crores were allotted towards infrastructure. But this has seen a sharp rise with the Modi government at the helm of affairs. In 2017-18, Rs 5,450 crores were earmarked for infrastructure.
The budgetary allocation had been going up by leaps and bounds. In 2018-19, it went up to Rs. 6,700 crores and in 2019-20, it was further hiked to Rs. 8,050 crores. In the present budget, it touched a whopping Rs. 11,800 crores.
Successive Congress regimes have always followed a defeatist policy of not building adequate infrastructure near the China border.
The utterly detestable idea behind keeping the bordering regions starved of motorable roads and adequate infrastructure was that it didn’t want to offer an easy pathway to the Chinese forces in case of another 1962 war-like event.
What this meant was less frequency of patrols near the Sino-India border due to reduced capability of carrying troops right upto the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
China has built extensive infrastructure on its side of the LAC, and therefore incursions from the Chinese side became common. It was only after Prime Minister Modi shed the defeatist mentality of past regimes that robust road network was constructed near the China border.
This is why the face-offs between India and China have increased because Indian patrols have become more frequent and Chinese PLA troops are confronted whenever they try to transgress into Indian territory.
However, Chinese troops are no longer able to camp 18-19 kilometres inside Indian territory, unlike what happened in 2013 when the UPA was in power.
For a long time, we used to think that the Congress and UPA were just defeatist in their China policy.
But what the revelations about the 2018 MoU with CCP has done is that it has led to more serious allegations being levelled against the Congress party, about the real intention behind not building infrastructure near the China border.