SRI NAGAR: Signalling a softening of the party’s stand on the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, senior state BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta said the saffron party was ready for a debate on Articles 370 and 35A within and outside the state.
Talking to this newspaper, Gupta said there can be a debate on Articles 370 and 35A, which grant special status to J&K and special privileges to the residents of the state.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Kashmir in December 2013, had said there should be a debate on the continuity of Article 370.
“He had said if people benefit by Article 370, then it should be continued. But, if people feel it is to their disadvantage, then it should be removed,” the former deputy CM said.
“If it leads to an increase in incidents of terrorism and unemployment, then there is no benefit of the law. There will be a debate and people will be taken into confidence before taking any decision on Article 370,” the BJP leader said.
Before the parliamentary elections, PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and other party leaders had said that if BJP comes back to power, the special status granted to J&K would be withdrawn for “full integration” of the state with Union of India.
Articles 370 and 35A had emerged as a focal point for elections in Kashmir, with the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying they were entering the fray to defend the special status of the state.