Will Modi and Xi meet? Question hangs in the air as PM goes to BRICS, Rahul in Ladakh

AS THE Opposition seeks to keep the issue of the Chinese “presence” in the Ladakh region alive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets an opportunity to score a point as he leaves Tuesday morning for the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It will be the first in-person summit of BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, since 2019. And, as reported by Shubhajit Roy, there is a possibility that Modi and Chinese premier Xi Jinping might meet on the sidelines of the Summit.

The hint that such a meeting might take place came from the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Shubhajit reported, noting that a Modi-Xi meeting would be their first such scheduled interaction since the border standoff started in May 2020.

Asked Monday about this at a media briefing, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra only said the schedule of the PM’s bilateral meetings is being finalised.

From Johannesburg, Modi is to travel to Greece, making him the first Indian PM to visit the country since Indira Gandhi in 1983.

Incidentally, Rahul Gandhi is currently on a Ladakh trip, with the Congress flooding the social media with photographs of him riding a motorcycle to the hilly region, and spending time with locals. It’s the Congress leader’s first visit to the region since the abrogation of Article 370 and carving out of Ladakh as a separate Union territory.

Rahul is scheduled to visit Kargil next, as well as to participate in a meeting of the 30-member Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Kargil on August 25. Rahul told ANI that he came to Ladakh to hear “what the people have to say”, and that the people told him “China’s army has entered the area and their grazing land was taken away”.

From the dry, cold terrain of Ladakh, to the sweltering heat of the plains, where Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is set to address a public meeting in Sagar in Madhya Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region Tuesday.

This comes 10 days after PM Modi laid the foundation stone of a Rs 100 crore memorial-cum-temple of Sant Ravidas, a revered figure among the Scheduled Castes, and addressed a public meeting in Sagar. Kharge incidentally was to address the Sagar meeting a day after Modi’s event on August 12, but it was postponed.

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