The parliamentary committee on defence will examine border security, especially along the NE and western borders. The decision of the committee comes in the wake of a five-month-long standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh which has significantly strained ties between the two nations. The committee, headed by former tribal affairs minister and BJP MP Jual Oram, has decided to prioritise examination of border security because of the immediate challenge India is facing from both China and Pakistan. The committee has decided to examine seven defence-related subjects of which two pertain to border areas. The committee will also examine provision and monitoring of the quality of ration and livery items to defence forces, especially in border areas.
The decision to examine border security was taken in the first meeting of the reconstituted parliamentary committee on defence on October 21. Following set procedures, the Lok Sabha secretariat had presented a memorandum before the members on various provisions in rules governing the choice of subjects, the remit of the committee and issues examined by the previous committee. Sources indicated that the committee members had broadly expressed concern over the geopolitical challenge posed by Pakistan and China. The members had then decided to scrutinise the border security issues with a special emphasis on the NE border with China and Bangladesh and western border with Pakistan. The chairman was authorised to finalise the issues to be examined.
The committee meetings have been keenly watched after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi had criticised the government over the handling of India-China border tension. BJP had lashed out at Gandhi and pointed out that he had not attended a single meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on defence till July. In September, Gandhi had attended a meeting. Before the reconstitution, the committee has been examining the provision of ration to the armed forces. In the same meeting, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had raised the India-China border issue and had sought a briefing from Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. After the committee wraps up the scrutiny of ration supply to defence forces, it would take up the border security.
In the 31-member committee, BJP and allies far outnumber the Opposition MPs. There are 18 MPs from BJP and supporting parties and 13 MPs from Opposition parties.