Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday lashed out at the Congress for raising the ” azaadi and autonomy” issue regarding J&K. He said it raised vital questions on the party’s understanding on Kashmir, which has been a part of Pakistan’s ‘unfinished’ agenda.
Jaitley, who released the BJP’s manifesto for Himachal Pradesh, referred to P Chidambaram’s recent statement on J&K and regretted that such remarks coming from a former Home Minister puts a big question mark on the Congress’s thinking. He asked Chidambaram and the Congress leaders to spell out as to what kind of “azaadi or greater autonomy” they were asking for which the J&K government or the state’s Constitution didn’t have.
At an event in Gujarat on Saturday, Chidambaram said, “My interactions in J&K led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azaadi (independence), most people want autonomy. I think we should seriously examine that question and consider on what areas we can give autonomy to J&K.” The remarks earned the wrath of several BJP ministers and leaders.
Accusing the Congress of contradictions, Jaitley said the party was talking about J&K’s pre-1953 status, when the state had a Prime Minister and not a Chief Minister and a Sadar-i- Riyasat and not a government. “The Congress means that J&K should not come under the purview of the Supreme Court and Election Commission,” he said.
Jaitley asserted the state’s Vidhan Sabha and government had all the necessary powers under the Constitution. Only issues that are not covered include defence, communication, foreign affairs and currency.
Jaitley said since 1947, Kashmir had been a part of Pakistan’s unfinished post-Independence agenda. “They have been sending terrorists and also inflicted some wars. The Congress, by its recent posturing, wants to mislead the whole country. It is deceiving itself and it is encouraging separatism in J&K. It is hurting the national interest and this is a very serious issue,” the Finance Minister said.
Jaitley claimed that during the past few months the government had squeezed funding to the separatists. “Stone pelters have disappeared and separatists have been exposed for their activities. Mass protests of stone throwers are by and large over,” he said.
The BJP member said terrorists have been on the run and security forces now had the upper hand. “The intelligence network has also been re-established,” he said, adding that the people of the country should ask the Congress some hard questions on their contradictions.