Chandra Kumar Bose, Bharatiya Janata Party leader from West Bengal, talks to Cuckoo News editor Dola Mitra about the ongoing India-China border conflict and other topics. He reveals why he disagreed with his party on the National Register of Citizenship and the Citizenship Amendment Acts and discloses the truth behind his “removal” from the post of Vice President. He responds to being called politically “irrelevant” and explains why he thinks the ideology of his great uncle Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is now the need of the hour.
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ladakh:
The Prime Minister’s visit to Ladakh was definitely a morale booster for our military and the entire country. It was reassuring for all citizens of India. I personally did not know about it beforehand and it was a pleasant surprise. It was a timely decision by Narendra Modiji.
His speech was a strong and effective one, full of encouragement and acknowledgement of the role our forces play as protectors of our motherland. He pointed out that the bravery displayed by our soldiers during the recent clashes in which twenty of our soldiers were martyred is incomparable in history. I think that was an important message. Because while there may be political differences on this issue, there is unanimity about one thing and that is the exceptional courage of our army officers and jawans.
On politicians’ blame game on the topic of India-China border conflict
Politicians ought not to let discussions on the India-China border conflict degenerate into an exercise in mud-slinging. There are theories and counter theories (about what happened at the India-China border at Ladakh on the night of June 15) being bandied about by those who don’t know the ground realities. I think the only people qualified to narrate the sequence of events are our officers and soldiers. Their version is the truth and they have told us what happened. Now is the time for the country, including the political parties, to forget their differences and unite so that we can stand up to the enemy together. Of course, there will be differences of opinion, but these should be debated and a consensus should be arrived at on what is the way forward. That is the reason Parliament is there.
On whether the border conflict is expected to de-escalate soon
About whether the border conflict will de-escalate soon, only time will tell. There have already been three high-level meetings between India and China at the military-level. Diplomatic talks are important too but diplomacy can only work when two countries respect each other’s boundaries. PM Modi, in the initial days, had tried to extend a friendly hand of cooperation with India’s neighbours, including Pakistan, where he had made an impromptu, unscheduled visit. But that was not reciprocated and our western borders continued to witness terrorist attacks, forcing us to retaliate, which we did successfully. As far as China is concerned, Modiji made several trips to the country, even before he became PM, that is, when he was Gujarat Chief Minister. In fact, he made a total of five visits to the country and hosted the visits of his counterpart. India has always practised a policy of cordial relations with its neighbours but whenever our trust was breached, we have taken strong action and we are doing the same now.
On regional peace
Of course we all want peace to prevail in the region and the rest of the world. World powers should have enough will to try to work out solutions. India and China are both nuclear powers. No one wants a war. Economic stability too is important. As it is, the world is reeling from the economic effect of Covid-19. At a time when the East, especially India and China, are becoming world powers, economically, the two neighbours should try to work together. But the first condition for cooperation is respecting each other’s boundaries and sovereignty.
On the banning of Chinese goods and apps
India’s decision to impose a blanket ban on Chinese goods in our country including the use of 59 Chinese apps is a strong message to China that we have had enough. Chinese investment in Indian markets such as in the construction and infrastructure sectors too have been barred and this is a step which is expected to hurt the Chinese export market. However, whether these measures will be an effective enough economic embargo that will dissuade China if it is intent on continuing to create tension militarily is yet to be seen. It is a good step in the right direction. If it is not punitive enough for China, a country which has grown economically strong and independent, it is certainly an indication of India’s disinterest in China as a trade partner. That, eventually, is not good for China because India is a huge international market.
On reports on attacks on Chinese-Indians
There are reports that Chinese-Indians are being targeted and attacked in various parts of the country and that is really condemnable. These Chinese-Indians are as Indian as you and me. Their ancestors settled in India hundreds of years ago. In fact, I think people ought not to stop eating Chinese food made by them in this country or wearing shoes and accessories manufactured by them in India.
On being “removed” from the post of Vice President of the party in Bengal
There has been a great deal of discussion about my so- called “removal” from the position of party “Vice President.” I want to clarify that the “VP’s post”, to me, is and has always been, an ornamental one and I myself am more comfortable with a position which allows me to do more ground work with the people. It is not that the VP’s post was stripped off me against my will. Yes, it was not conveyed to me until later, that is, after it was decided in a meeting, but not many know that I myself had expressed the desire to step down and be considered for a more active role in the party. In fact, I have been informed that I will be given charge of other work. I am happy to wait for it.
On being called politically “irrelevant”
I had discussed with both Modiji and Amit Shahji (Home Minister, Amit Shah) when I was invited to join the party that I would try to inculcate into the activities of the party the ideology of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. This is not because Netaji happens to be my great uncle, but because he had a vision of India as an “inclusive” nation. We should not exclude anyone or discriminate against anyone on the basis of their race, religion, caste or creed. This is also enshrined in our Constitution. Vested interests have, for long, tried to rule through divisive policies, which appease certain sections of people to create votebanks and in turn, win elections. This is our, the BJP’s and the NDA’s, chance to do it differently. To show that we can build a truly strong nation, which is “inclusive.” Many people have called my politics “irrelevant” because I upheld the values of Netaji but as we are seeing now, unity and inclusiveness is the only way forward for India. To fight the external enemy, we have to stand together as one united nation.
On his disagreeing with his party on NRC and CAA
In fact, my only reservation about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was in the way it was drafted. We needed to be more inclusive. We needed to highlight the “humane” aspects of the CAA and point out that it was actually a kind-hearted bill because it proposed that those who fled to India to escape religious persecution in other countries would be welcomed in India. Instead we said that a particular community would not be included in this list of people. The logic behind that was that this community would not face religious persecution in their countries because they were not religious minorities in those countries so there would be no need for them to seek asylum in India. But why exclude them completely? And why make a point about it? Even in terms of electoral politics, this would not work, especially in a state like West Bengal, where one-thirds of its population is Muslim. This would send a wrong signal to a particular community and the people in general. This was my only point. There were no other disagreements with my party.
Twitter: @dolamitra @kuhumitra