Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday lashed out at National Conference leader Omar Abdullah for his remark earlier in the day that Jammu and Kashmir will have to renegotiate accession to India if Article 35A is abrogated. He also said the state will have its own Prime Minister, as was the situation after accession.
Addressing an election rally in Bandipore, J&K, Omar said that unlike other states, J&K acceded to India on certain conditions. “If you are talking of removing those conditions,” he said, “you will have to re-negotiate the accession. There are no two opinions about that.”
Addressing a rally at Hyderabad’s Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Modi asked the crowd, “Congress ke ek bade sahyogi dal, mahagathbandhan ke sabse tagde sathi National Conference ne bayan diya hai ki Kashmir mein alag PM hona chahiye. Aap mujhe bataiye, Congress ke is saathi party ki ye maang aapko manzoor hai (A Congress and Opposition ally has stated that Kashmir should have a separate PM. You tell me, do you agree)?”
Asking the Congress to clear its stand, Modi said, “Woh kehte hai ki ghadi ki sui peechhe le jayenge, 1953 ke pehle ki stithi paida karenge aur Hindustan mein do PM honge — Kashmir ka PM alag hoga. Jawab Congress ko dena padega, kya kaaran hai ki unka saathi dal is prakar ki baat bolne ki himmat kar raha hai (He says the clock should be turned back to pre-1953 status and Hindustan should have two PMs, with one specifically for Kashmir. The Congress should answer how its alliance partner finds such courage).”
A tweet on Modi’s handle stated, “National Conference wants 2 PMs, 1 in Kashmir & 1 for rest of India. Does Mamata Didi agree? Does U-Turn Babu agree? Does Pawar Sahab agree? Does former PM Deve Gowda Ji agree? Shame on the Opposition! Till Modi is there, no one can divide India!”
Replying to the tweet, Omar posted, “It’s not what @JKNC_ wants sir, it’s what the terms of accession guaranteed J&K, it’s what the Constitution of India (the same Constitution you take an oath to uphold) guaranteed J&K. All we ask is what the Constitution gave to J&K.”
Joining in the debate, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley argued that Article 35A was not there when the Instrument of Accession was signed in October 1947. “In 1950, when the Constitution came into force, it (Article 35) was not there. It was surreptitiously inserted in 1954. How can it be the essential Constitutional link? The challenge is being heard by Supreme Court. Why intimidate the court?….”
Jaitley added that Omar’s statement about demanding revival of the post of Wazir-e-Azam (PM) and Sadar-e-Riyasat (President) is only intended to create a “separatist psyche”.
Omar had earlier in the day said, “Only yesterday, Amit Shah-sahib, in a television interview, said they will abrogate (Article) 35A by 2020. Before that, Arun Jaitley-sahib threatened to remove 35A and Article 370. J&K is not like other states. Other states have merged with India unconditionally. We have kept conditions…. To keep our identity…we said we will have our own identity, our own constitution and our own flag. At that time, we had also kept our own Sadar-e-Riyasat and the Prime Minister, which they removed. Inshallah, we will also get that back”.
He said the Centre is implying that J&K’s decision to accede to India was wrong. “What wrong did we do…. We sought some things and extended the hand of friendship. And today, after 70 years, you tell us that the decision we took was wrong…because we acceded to you on certain conditions and you are talking of removing them…”
Other non-BJP parties in the state also reacted strongly to Shah’s statement.
“Let’s see. If you have to keep J-K with India, you will have to do it on our conditions. This is a Muslim-majority state. If it is tampered with, then they should forget Jammu and Kashmir,” former CM and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti stated.
State Congress president G A Mir said, “The Congress believes, and we have been continuously saying, that nobody on earth can tinker with (Article) 370, 35A because this is a strong link, a string bridge between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of country.”
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