New Delhi, Aug 31: Ahead of BRICS summit in China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly told ministers that only Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) can speak on the ‘sensitive’ issue of Doklam. At a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, PM Modi said the job to publicise India’s success in ensuring withdrawal of the Chinese troops from Doklam should be left on MEA and the ministers should not speak on the sensitive subject.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, PM Narendra Modi conveyed instructions to ministers ahead of his visit to Xiamen in China for the ninth BRICS summit from September 3 to 5. “The Prime Minister said whatever publicity has to be done, whatever statement has to be made will be done by the ministry of external affairs. Cabinet ministers should not speak out of turn… should not jump the gun,” a source privy to the deliberations at the cabinet meeting was quoted as saying in the report.
PM Modi pointed out that the government managed to handle the Doklam issue well, but he instructed Cabinet ministers not to pass comments on the subject. At the Cabinet meeting, MEA officials also made a presentation before ministers on the Doklam standoff and India’s concerns. Earlier Defence Minister Arun Jaitley refused to comment on Doklam issue at a press conference, saying that the MEA had put forward India’s stand.
On August 28, the MEA said India and China agreed to end their military standoff in Doklam. “In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests. On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to, and is ongoing,” the MEA statement said.
The standoff was triggered on June 16 when the Indian Army stopped Chinese troops from building a road at Doka La in Doklam. Doklam is claimed by Bhutan and close to India’s arterial corridor, which connects its northeast region with the rest of the country. Relations between India and China had dipped to a new low over the standoff at Doklam, with the Chinese side refusing to withdraw. Beijing had accused India of transgressing into its territory and demanded an immediate withdrawal of Indian troops. However, India had refused to withdraw its soldiers unless there was a simultaneous withdrawal from the Chinese side as well.