Prime Minister Narendra Modi should issue an explanation on US President Donald Trump's claim on Kashmir mediation, says Lok Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.
The fallout from the US president's claim that PM Modi sought his mediation on the Kashmir dispute is continuing. While Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday reiterated the foreign minister's statement in parliament that the Kashmir issue was not discussed in the meeting between the PM and the US president, MPs from opposition parties staged a walkout protesting against the prime minister's absence in the House as well as the absence of a direct explanation from him.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18.com's Binoy Prabhakar, Tharoor emphasised his stance on the issue. "I am entirely with the Congress Party and their stand on this. I did not say that Prime Minister Modi does not need to clarify; on the contrary, he must because when I saw the whole video of the encounter, President Trump directly quotes PM Modi. So there is no point in getting anyone else to say that this never happened because obviously the fact remains that it is now a direct quote of a two-person conversation in which one person says this was said and now it is incumbent upon the other person to say it was not said. I do not believe that he would have said it. I personally think that it is almost inconceivable that a Prime Minister of India would so dramatically depart from our existing policy. However, now the prime minister owes a clarification to the parliament of which he is a member and to which he is accountable. That is why the Congress party made a bit of a ruckus in both Houses of parliament and even staged a walkout," the lawmaker pointed out.
"The fact is that while we are quite inclined to believe President Trump got it wrong, and it is not our job to give a certificate of accuracy to Trump, we need to hear it from the other man in that conversation and that is Narendra Modi himself," Tharoor said.
According to Tharoor, a clarification from the prime minister is required to clear the air. "The fact is that we are now in a very unfortunate position because obviously Modi said something that Trump misunderstood. Maybe a clarification -- the PM could say something like 'I mentioned that the situation in Kashmir is under control or that Pakistan keeps raising this issue and we are unhappy about it'. He must have said something, otherwise the word 'Kashmir' would not have rung in Trump’s head. So, some clarification that this is what he said, but it was not what Trump understood; that would be a diplomatic way of not accusing him of lying or of having completely got it wrong, but just perhaps he heard the word 'Kashmir' and got some other message, something like that. We do not know, nobody knows, even Jaishankar was not sitting there when the two of them were talking in Osaka because again by saying I spoke to Modi two weeks ago, 20 days ago, he is referring specifically to the G20 in Osaka. So, in that particular event Modi has to recall what did he say to Trump that could have been so completely misunderstood and of course has now created this huge firestorm in our parliament," the Congress MP stated.
Tharoor recalled an incident that happened when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. "Not so long ago, when I was in my first stint in the Ministry of External Affairs, the BJP paralysed the House for a day demanding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should give an explanation about a controversial statement on the Sharm el-Sheikh communique. In the end, the PM did give a statement and explained the situation and they continued making a ruckus inside and outside the House. To my mind, as far as our friends in the BJP today are concerned, turnabout is fair play. We are following the golden rule that says do unto them what they have done unto us. We are also demanding an explanation and to my mind it is a very fair request. I think the prime minister owes it to us to explain," he said.