| New Delhi |
Published: March 18, 2018 6:18 am
Nominated Lok Sabha MP George Baker of the BJP has said he did not seek permission for attending celebrations in Dharamshala to mark beginning of 60 years in exile of the Dalai Lama. A note by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale in run up to the celebrations had said participation of senior leaders or government functionaries in the Tibetan functions is “not desirable” in view of the “very sensitive time” in bilateral ties with China. A member of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet headed by BJP veteran Shanta Kumar, Baker was chief guest at the celebrations recently. He was the lone Indian representative at the celebrations.
Back in Delhi after three days in Dharamshala, Baker says the invitation came much before the government communication. “I am travelling within India, why should I seek permission? Nobody spoke to me about the trip after I came back either,” he said. Baker joined BJP in 2013 and unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket. He was nominated to Lok Sabha in 2015.
“I spoke extempore for about 20 minutes and I said what I think of China. If the government wants to fire me, it can. China knows nothing but to exploit. They have been doing so for centuries. India is a very good market for them. They do not want India to progress so that they can keep pumping sub-standard stuff into our country.”
He added: “Look at the way China has surrounded us, in the northeast, then their maritime presence in the South, they have stopped just short of the Indian Ocean, they have used the three provinces of Tibet for a commercial corridor to Pakistan. what has happened to Tibet can someday happen to us. I am very anti-China personally. If you look at history, the Chinese were basically marauders, whatever culture they have they learnt from the Tibetans.”
Baker, who was accompanied by wife Arpita on the trip, said he was overwhelmed by the hospitality of his hosts. “I did not see any bitterness over this communication. In fact, they are extremely thankful to India and I am told every day when they pray, they also pray for India. They did so when I was there too,” he said.
On February 22, in a memo marked “secret”, Gokhale wrote to cabinet secretary P K Sinha, “The proposed period will be a very sensitive time in the context of India’s relations with China. Participation by senior leaders or government functionaries, either from the central government or state governments, is not desirable, and should be discouraged.”
Quoting that communication in a letter dated February 26, cabinet secretary P K Sinha wrote: “…the Tibetan leadership in India is planning to organize a series of events in end-March/early April, 2018 to mark the beginning of 60th year of exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has further stated that keeping in view the sensitive nature of the subject, participation by senior leaders or government functionaries either from the Central government or state governments is not desirable and should be discouraged”