HTLS 2020: India making all effort to resolve border issue with China, says Rajnath Singh

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday spoke about policy changes India has brought about to tackle terrorism, talks with China to resolve the border stand-off in Ladakh and the possibility of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) getting a two-third majority in upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal while speaking at the 18th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

Singh said India is not a soft target anymore and this has been made possible due to efforts taken by the BJP-led government at the Centre. The changes by the government in terms of national security have shown that no one will be able to repeat the terror attacks perpetrated in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, Singh said as the country observed the 12th anniversay of the terrors attacks in the capital city of Maharashtra.

“We not only control infiltration but can also give befitting reply to terrorists across the border. This is a sea change from the policy India followed during previous governments,” Singh said during a conversation with Prashant Jha, HT’s Editor-Views. “Today’s day is very important as far as national security is concerned. 26/11 gave a new direction to our security policy, the incident challenged our sovereignty,” he said.

Click here for live coverage of HTLS 2020

Singh said India has held talks with China and will continue to have dialogue to resolve border stand-off with China. There has been a “perceptional difference” regarding the issue at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and that problems arise when agreed protocols are violated.” “I want to assure everyone that under PM Modi’s administration, there will be no compromise on India’s border, self-respect and sovereignty,” he said.

India and China have held eight rounds of talks and will soon hold another aimed at achieving complete disengagement and full restoration of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday.

The eighth round of talks between senior military commanders of the two sides, which was held in Chushul on November 6, was also joined by joint secretary (East Asia) Naveen Srivastava of the external affairs ministry. The border standoff in Ladakh sector of the LAC, where both sides have deployed thousands of troops backed by artillery and armoured vehicles, has entered its seventh month. Recent reports suggested the two sides are considering several proposals for thinning troops at some friction points but are yet to make a breakthrough.

Singh said that the assembly election in West Bengal next year will be very good for the BJP, saying he cannot rule out a two-third majority for his party in the state. He also talked about the ongoing agitation by farmers against the three central farm laws as he extended an invitation for talks to the protesting agriculturists. “I appeal to farmers to end their protest. We are not against them and are open for talks. They should understand that the newly-passed farm laws will benefit small farmers,” he said.

State Bank of India chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara will be talking to Shereen Bhan, managing editor of CNBC TV-18, in the next session of HTLS 2020. Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel will participate in the third and last session of the day to be moderated by Sunetra Choudhury, HT’s national political editor.

Randeep Guleria, director of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Brown University School of Public Health dean Dr Ashish K Jha and Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla spoke on the fist day of HTLS. Veteran cricketer Kapil Dev and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal were the guests on Day 2 of HTLS. The theme of this year’s HTLS, which is being held virtually, is ‘Defining a New Era’ as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. The live discussions with leaders across sectors will be spread over four weeks and will be held every Thursday and Friday.

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