Amid a raging debate over autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP’s state unit on Monday said removal of Article 370, which grants special status to the state, was the only viable solution to the decades-old problem. “Removal of Article 370 and bringing Jammu and Kashmir on par with other states is the only viable solution to the issue,” BJP state spokesperson Professor Virender Gupta said in a statement in Jammu. He said this would be a befitting reply to separatists and Pakistan who are supporting and nourishing terrorism in the state and will pave the way to bring the people of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly those of the Valley, into the national mainstream.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s remark on Saturday that “when the people of Jammu and Kashmir ask for “azadi”, most of them mean greater autonomy” had invited sharp criticism from the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had termed it a reprehensible attempt by the Congress to support those calling for ‘azadi’ in Kashmir and “an insult to our soldiers”.
Reacting to it, Chidambaram had yesterday said the prime minister was “imagining a ghost and attacking it”, maintaining that those criticising him should first read his comments. The Congress has already distanced itself from the former Union minister’s comments. The BJP spokesperson said treating J&K differently, allowing it to have its own constitution and not completely merging the state into the Indian Union, by incorporating Article 370 in the Indian Constitution, is the “basic cause of the present Jammu and Kashmir problem”.
“It speaks of the mindset of the Congress from the very beginning,” Gupta said criticising the statement of Chidambaram and claimed that it provided fuel to separatists who have waged a war against India at the behest of Pakistan and are threatening the unity and integrity of the country.
“His (Chidambaram’s) statement, particularly at this juncture when the security forces are well in control of the situation in the Valley, separatists and terrorists are demoralised and the conditions are fast returning to normal… when Pakistan has been isolated and its cry on the Kashmir issue is being given little attention in the world fora, amount to doing disservice to the national interests,” the BJP leader said. He said Chidambaram’s attempt also amounts to “sabotaging the efforts of the Government of India to restore the confidence of the Kashmiri people by appointing Dineshwar Sharma as its representative.
“Some of the Congress leaders are still following the Nehurian mindset that created the Kashmir problem and that is still proving to be a thorn for the Indian Union,” he said. Gupta said two of such leaders are Mani Shankar Aiyar and Chidambaram, who always favour and suggest the “proposition of returning to accession and considered it the mother of all confidence-building measures (CBMs)”.
He alleged former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s act of “confiding in (National Conference founder) Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and other party leaders to decide the future of Jammu and Kashmir … and sidelining the Maharaja of the state and ignoring the interests of the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions is one of the greatest blunders in modern history of India”.