NEW DELHI: India’s Hindu nationalist opposition has seized upon a secret report about how the government bungled a war with China more than 50 years ago to batter the ruling party days before an election.
India, led by its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was defeated in the 1962 conflict that was painted at home as Chinese aggression across the Himalayas.
But excerpts of a military investigation that were leaked by an Australian journalist who wrote an acclaimed book on the war said the government’s policy of forward deployment in the high mountains had increased the chances of conflict.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is the front-runner in the election beginning next month, demanded that the government release the report by former army Lt. Gen. Henderson Brooks so that the country would know how the government pushed the military into a war it could only lose.
“What are they trying to hide by making the war report classified ?” BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said. “We have a right to know what went wrong. We lost the war because of Nehru.”
The party led by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has targeted the Nehru-Gandhi family that leads the Congress as a central plank of its campaign platform. The military investigation said that in the months leading to the war, Nehru’s government ordered the military to patrol and establish posts far into the disputed border as part of a forward policy to deter the Chinese.