The Opposition on Thursday backed the Government’s stand on the Ukraine crisis and India’s abstention from voting in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) emergency session on Wednesday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar briefed the Parliamentary consultative committee attached to his Ministry about the situation in the war zone and India’s efforts to bring out its citizens from there. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was among the nine MPs from six parties who attended the meeting.
There was a general consensus on India’s decision to abstain from the various votes on Russia at the UNSC and the UNGA in view of the geostrategic position of the country, sources said later.
At the end of the meeting, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who attended the briefing, tweeted: “Frank discussions took place in an amicable atmosphere, a reminder that when it comes to national interests we are all Indians first and foremost.
“Just completed an MEA consultative committee meeting on developments in Ukraine. A good discussion on the strategic and humanitarian aspects of the issue. The strong and unanimous message of support for efforts to bring back all Indians from Ukraine,” Jaishankar tweeted. Thanking leaders for their participation, he said “a national consensus on the importance of dialogue and diplomacy.”
The Opposition stands united with the Government, several leaders later said. The meeting of the 21-member committee, chaired by Jaishankar was attended by nine MPs from six parties and came in for fulsome praise from some leaders. “We all are united,” Tharoor told reporters after the meeting.
“Excellent meeting of the Consultative Committee on External Affairs this morning on #Ukraine. My thanks to @DrSJaishankar & his colleagues for a comprehensive briefing and candid responses to our questions and concerns. This is the spirit in which foreign policy should be run,” he added in a tweet.
Echoing similar views, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi described the meeting as “very good”. “We were well briefed and stand united with the Government,” she said
YSR Congress MP Beeseti Venkata Satyavathi said the Ministry assured the MPs that stranded students would be evacuated in the next few days.
Rahul reportedly sought to know the impact of the Russian-Ukraine conflict on the tense situation at the Line of Actual Control(LAC) between India and China in Ladakh.
Rahul, according to sources, wanted to know whether the Indian Government expected China to take its cue from Russia and step up aggression against India. To this, Jaishankar said, “India is no Ukraine”.
There were several questions from Opposition MPs on the perceived delay in beginning the evacuation process. The members asked questions on the timeline of advisories issued by the Indian Government as opposed to that by other countries.
They also sought to know the rescue measures being taken, especially for students in Ukraine’s eastern sector and the possibility of a humanitarian corridor to pull students out from the Ukraine-Russia border.
Rahul also raised the issue of increasing proximity between China
and Pakistan and its impact on India. While Congress leaders supported India’s position at the UN on Ukraine, some MPs, including Tharoor expressed concern over the Government’s stand, especially which was mentioned in its first two speeches in the United Nations, sources said.
The meeting lasted for more than two hours and came amid opposition criticism of the Government’s handling of the Ukraine crisis- the evacuation of Indians and the UN vote.
Apart from being critical of the Government’s evacuation efforts, Tharoor had also raised questions over India’s abstention in voting against Russia at the UNSC.
“Our stand has been that we do not support invading other countries and regime change through violence and war… After our abstention, many regretted that India had placed itself on the ‘wrong side of history’,” Tharoor tweeted last week.