Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended only nine out of the 76 meetings that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs held ever since it was constituted during the current Lok Sabha. He also did not go for any of the committee’s five study tours. And although he was present in three crucial meetings held by the committee on Doklam, he did not attend two other meetings on the issue. This is significant in view of his recent comment in London that he did not have much details about last year’s Doklam stand-off between India and China. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs was briefed in detail on the Doklam issue by the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Home Affairs.
Gandhi is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, which is headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who was a Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs in the Manmohan Singh government. The Committee has 19 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha. Two positions are vacant at present.
The first meeting of the Committee was held on 23 September 2014, according to information available on the Lok Sabha website. Rahul Gandhi did not participate in any of the 21 meetings held in 2014-2015. In 2015-2016, he took part in two out of the 16 meetings held. In 2017, the committee met 17 times, but Rahul participated in only three of the meetings. In 2017-2018, Rahul was present in five out of the 22 meetings.
The committee also organised five study tours to Gangatok, Leh, Amritsar, Mumbai, Srinagar, Goa, Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata and Chennai, but Rahul Gandhi did not go for any of them.
In 2017-2018, there were as many as five meetings on Doklam. There were two meetings in October last year, and one in February this year, in which the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Home Affairs briefed the committee members in details about the India-China relations, including Doklam. Rahul was present in these three meetings.
However, there were two rounds of meetings—one on 7 August and another on 9 August, for “Consideration and adoption of the draft Report on the subject ‘Sino-India Relations including Doklam, border situation and cooperation in international organizations’,” but Rahul Gandhi was not present in these meetings.
Questions have been raised whether the Congress president takes any interest in any issues related to foreign policy.