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Ex-PM Deve Gowda asks govt to tone down nationalist rhetoric

Ex-PM Deve Gowda asks govt to tone down nationalist rhetoric

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has asked the Narendra Modi government to institute an enquiry on the deaths of 20 soldiers along the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan valley of Ladakh and tone down the "nationalist rhetoric" to deescalate the tension with China.

In a statement issued on Friday, the leader under whom, India and China signed a bilateral agreement in 1996 to reduce troops on their disputed border areas, also said that the Modi government "should not encourage reactionary language of economic boycott".

Gowda said the implications of the boycott are deep and India should be guided by pragmatism.

He suggested to the government that a senior serving military officer and serving diplomat should make a detailed presentation to the opposition leaders on the ground situation of India-China face-off in Ladakh and the progress of talks between the two sides.

"Underplaying certain developments and overstating certain information may be a bad strategy in the long run," Gowda said in his statement.

"Most of the information that is now available to us is from the media, and it cannot be always trusted as accurate. The demand here is not for classified details but truth information," he wrote.

"In order to ensure that we do not escalate matters," he urged, "that nationalist rhetoric should be toned down. This is not the time for a language of provocation and revenge," he said adding that social media retribution is of particular concern. He asked the government to take steps to check this.

He also urged the opposition not to use intemperate language. "This is an hour for cooperation. Domestic politics and national security interests cannot be equated. I do not mean we should not question the government. It should be done keeping in mind that there are larger issues at stake," he said.

Gowda alleged that in recent times, there is an effort to politicize the armed forces. "That is dangerous. They should be allowed to remain a professional force. When they remain a professional force, they will advise the government of the day fearlessly and correctly. It is important to institute an enquiry on the deaths of soldiers in the Galwan valley and know exactly what led to the tragic events," he wrote.

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