CHENNAI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today accused the Modi government of turning the Kashmir issue into a "weakness" from "strength", prompting the ruling side to hit back by citing a Congress booklet which depicted the state as a territory "occupied by India".
Gandhi blamed the NDA government for the current unrest in Kashmir, saying it had completedly mishandled the issue. "They (government) are creating a problem for this country by their incompetence and by trying to utilise Kashmir as a political asset," the Congress vice president told reporters in Chennai. The government of India and the Prime Minister "are completely mishandling Kashmir. Kashmir is India's strength and they are making it India's weakness," he said.
Gandhi said he had told Union Minister Arun Jaitley about six-seven months back that they were "mishandling Kashmir and they are going to set it afire. But Mr Jaitley brushed me aside and said Kashmir is peaceful."
Hitting back, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu referred to a booklet released by the Congress yesterday in Lucknow which depicted the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as "India occupied Kashmir".
He said in Hyderabad that the people of the country would never forgive the Congress party for such a "mindset". Questioning if the final solution that the Congress had in mind was to give Kashmir to Pakistan, Naidu asked, "Is it for this that hundreds of our brave soldiers have given up their lives over the years defending our sovereignty and territorial integrity?" BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said in Delhi that the government has a very strong Kashmir policy.
He said the government is treating differently the common Kashmiris, terrorists and separatists and "this policy is bearing fruits". The Congress, Hussain recalled, had even raised questions on the surgical strikes carried out by the Army across the line of control.
Gandhi, who had yesterday attended an event to celebrate the 94th birthday of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, said the opposition would unitedly "fight and defeat" the attempts of the BJP and the RSS to "thrust one idea" on a country that celebrates diversity. "We are not going to allow one single idea of the RSS - the bankrupt idea, to invade this country and we are going to fight the RSS together," he said. Opposition parties stood united in this task to defeat the BJP and the RSS, he added.