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Post Elections India China Rapprochement on the LAC?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview with the Newsweek has led to much debate over the possibility of India accelerating the pace of negotiations with Chian on resolution of the impasse on the Line of Actual [LAC] post elections.

This comes even as there have been several statements on the India China border issue particularly during the election campaigning season with the Home Minister, Mr Amit Shah claiming that there has been no intrusion by China in India's territory.

Mr Amit Shah at an election rally on April 9, addressing voters in the Lakhimpur parliamentary constituency claimed that “China couldn’t encroach on an inch of India’s land. This kind of rule is given by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi ji.”

In fact, this was an assertion of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well in 2020 when first reports of Chinese having occupied the frontline positions on the Line of Actual Control came in.

In an all-party meeting in New Delhi on June 2020, without naming China Mr Modi said, “Neither have they intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them [China]. Twenty of our jawans were martyred, but those who dared Bharat Mata, they were taught a lesson.” Famously, “Na koi ghusa thaa, na koi ghusa hai.” “Today, we possess the capability that no one can eye even one inch of our land. India’s armed forces have the capability to move into multiple sectors at one go,” Mr Modi had said.

However, despite these statements for the past almost four years, a series of talks have been ongoing at the diplomatic and the military level for a pull back by the Chinese from areas occupied on the LAC post April 2020.

India’s External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar has said from time to time that India China relations cannot be resolved without status quo ante on the LAC.

While it was believed that due to general elections in April to June this year, the Indian government cannot take any decision on negotiations with China, the period may be right post the polls where the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to return to power. This will give more room for the government to engage in realistic talks with China on the LAC issue.

During an interview with the Newsweek magazine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has indicated that there could be talks with China. “It is my belief that we need to urgently address the prolonged situation on our borders so that the abnormality in our bilateral interactions can be put behind us,” Modi was quoted as saying. "I hope and believe that through positive and constructive bilateral engagement at the diplomatic and military levels, we will be able to restore and sustain peace and tranquility in our borders,” he said.

This is an indication of Indian intent expressed at the highest level post the polls.

Responding to the same Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a media briefing on April 11 that “We believe that sound and stable China, India relations serve the common interests of both sides and are conducive to peace and development of the region and beyond”, she said.

At the same time, she reiterated the stand of the Chinese government, that the boundary question "does not represent the entirety of the India-China relations. It should be placed appropriately in the bilateral relations and managed properly”.

The main opposition party Indian National Congress as anticipated lambasted the Prime Minister statement on China,. Congress veteran Jairam Ramesh claimed that, “But his [Prime Minister’s] ineffective and weak response is likely to encourage China further to stake its claim on Indian land," Ramesh said.

Given the elections and post elections dynamics how the situation develops now remains to be seen?

If and when the two sides disengage from the LAC, there is likely to be substantive reduction in the burden of placing over 50,000 troops in extreme high altitude areas in the peak of winters by the Indian Army as well as the People’s Liberation Army.

For the Indian Armed Forces this should free up resources for much needed modernisation.


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