Congress, BJP members clash over Talbott's claim
21 April 2005
Special Correspondent: The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party members clashed in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday over the claim made by the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, in a book, that India had expressed willingness to convert the Line of Control as the international boundary with Pakistan (reportedly during the rule of the National Democratic Alliance Government). The provocation was the reply during question hour to a question by Anand Sharma (Congress) by the Minister of State, E. Ahamed in which he said 'so far as this Government is concerned there was no such proposal and the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India is irrevocable.' In his written reply, the Minister said the Government's principled and consistent position on Jammu and Kashmir was that the entire State was an integral part of India. He said: 'A part of the territory of the State is under forcible occupation of Pakistan. The Kashmir Resolution adopted by Parliament on February 22, 1994 has affirmed this position. India is committed under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, to resolve all issues with Pakistan peacefully through bilateral discussions.' When specifically asked by Mr. Sharma whether any proposal was considered and conveyed to the U.S. by India as suggested in Talbott's book, the Minister said so far as this Government was concerned there was no such proposal under consideration and its position had been consistent. At this the BJP members, Pramod Mahajan, Yashwant Sinha, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj, were on their feet in protest. Mr. Mahajan said the Government should not resort to petty politics. 'It cannot be this government or that. It is the Indian Government.' Mr. Joshi said never has the Government given any official statement on record on this. The stand of the Government of India is clear. Ms. Swaraj referred to the written answer. However, when Mr. Sharma stood his ground and said there had never been any rebuttal of Mr. Talbot's claim (from the NDA), Mr. Ahamed said: 'No such proposal was under consideration at any stage.' The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition, Jaswant Singh, who was the then External Affairs Minister, were present in the House but neither intervened. Referring to the recent meeting of the Prime Minister with the Pakistan President, the Congress leader, Karan Singh, said all kinds of suggestions had been made on Jammu and Kashmir. No suggestion had been agreed to. 'Without complicating, the matter should be left at that.'