Days after Union minister Jitendra Singh said abrogating Article 370 would remain a part of the BJP’s agenda, the party’s candidates in Jammu and Kashmir have warned that it might provoke the people to “pick up guns”.
The candidates said they would fight any attempt to abrogate the constitutional provision that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The first phase of polling for 15 seats is scheduled for November 25, and the BJP is likely to release its manifesto in about a week.
“People will pick up guns if Article 370 is abrogated,” Dr Hina Bhat, candidate from Amirakadal and the prominent woman face of the BJP in the state, told The Indian Express. “Kashmiris are on the verge of picking up guns again, and if it (Article 370) is abrogated, it will happen,” she said.
Jitendra Singh, MoS in the PMO, had said in Jammu on Tuesday that Article 370 is a “part of” the BJP’s agenda. “All issues which have been part of the BJP manifesto all these years will be part of the agenda. They will continue to be so,” Singh said when asked if the BJP had dumped the issue of Article 370 for the elections. “The ideological issue (Article 370), to which you are pointing to, BJP’s stand is very clear on it and it is known to you.”
Earlier, immediately after assuming charge as minister in May, Singh had said that the process of doing away with Article 370 had begun, and the matter was being discussed with several stakeholders, provoking an angry response from CM Omar Abdullah.
The BJP candidate from Kangan, Nazir Raina, said the Article 370 was the link that bound Kashmir and India.
“Those who are talking about it perhaps haven’t read it carefully. If they read it properly, they will know if this article is abrogated there will be no connection between Kashmir and India,” Raina said. “Article 370 connects Kashmir to India. No power in the world can abrogate it. If any attempt is made to abrogate it, I’ll be the first to oppose it”.
The BJP candidate for Homeshalibugh in south Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Dar, said that as a Kashmiri, he would “not allow anyone to play” with Article 370. “If this happens, we will seek answers from the party,” Dar said.
The party’s Pandit candidate from Khanyar, Ashok Bhat, said that Article 370 should, in fact, be strengthened. “In my opinion, it should be made stronger,” he said. “In the past, repeated attempts have been made to erode it.”
State BJP vice-president and part of the old guard in the Valley, Sofi Yousuf, said that Singh’s assertion on Article 370 was his personal opinion. “There is no question of abrogation of Article 370. I am confident it will not be part of the party manifesto,” Yousuf, Pahalgam nominee, said.
“If somebody has talked about it that might be his personal opinion. Narendra Modiji has said that there will be a discussion on it (Article 370)… We will call even the separatists to discuss it,” he said.
BJP founder member in the Valley and member of the party’s State Management Committee Fayaz Ahmad Bhat said there was no question of Article 370 figuring in the manifesto.