I’m not going to Tawang to find heir: Dalai Lama

New Delhi, November 01: In far away Japan, the Dalai Lama, who has by and large not made any political statements on Arunachal in the last few weeks,batted for India, claiming that the ‘disputed’ state is a part of the union. The claim on India’s behalf has not amused the government, though there has been no official response to his statement.

Ahead of his proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh (AP), Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader hit out at China for opposing his trip to the state, saying it was “politicising [the issue] too much,” as he was going there solely for teaching. Asked whether his successor (next incarnation) may be found in Tawang, he emphasised that he will play no role in such efforts. “If I was communist then I would have to be concerned about my successor but I’m not communist,” he said.

Talking to reporters in Japan, he was asked about his visit to the state and China’s repeated protests to India over it. The Dalai Lama went back to the border war of 1962, pointing out that many parts of the state were overrun by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). But after the ceasefire, the PLA withdrew from these areas. “… they announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew, accepting the current international boundary,” the spiritual leader said.

He also spoke of his deep emotional attachment to AP, as it was the place where he entered India after his escape from Tibet in 1959. What he did not say was that the sixth Dalai Lama was from the Tawang region and the Chinese are afraid that he may name his successor from there.

Privately Indian officials are put off with the Dalai Lama’s claims, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his meeting with Wen Jiabao in Thailand had devoted much time and energy in explaining India’s position on the Tibetan leader. The PM said he was a religious leader and the Tibetans were not allowed to take part in any political activity in India. India-China ties had reached a low following the announcement of the Dalai Lama’s visit, slated for November 8-14.The Prime Minister had done some damage control and tried to repair ties during his meeting with his Chinese counterpart.

Manmohan Singh had assured Wen that the Dalai Lama would be in Tawang for religious discourses and would not fall out of line and make any controversial remarks. “We had requested His Holiness not to make any political statements. Our expectations are that he would oblige,” a senior official, who did not wish to be identified said. Asked if by claiming Arunachal for India, the Dalai Lama had overstepped the line, the official refused to comment.

Whatever the spiritual leader says and does in Arunachal will be watched closely by the Chinese. The Tibetan leader will perhaps be told once more not to make any controversial remarks. It is unlikely that the Dalai Lama will go against the Indian government. The gag order for him is applicable only in India; he can choose to say whatever he likes abroad. Many analysts believe New Delhi is over sensitive to China’s likes and dislikes and welcome the Dalai Lama’s plain talking in Japan.