Modi's Call for Debate on Article 370 Triggers Row - The New Indian Express

Modi's Call for Debate on Article 370 Triggers Row

Published: 03rd December 2013 12:17 AM

Last Updated: 03rd December 2013 12:59 AM

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's remarks on Article 370 Monday drew attacks from the Congress and the PDP while the BJP asserted that they did not signal softening of its stance on the constitutional provision giving special status to the state.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over Modi's suggestion for debate on the provision, saying the party was making an about turn and terming their stand "double speak".

"Is the turnaround on 370 final nail in the legacy of Vajpayee ji and Advani ji ? Venkaih (Naidu) ji signed the vis(i)on document should explain u turn!" he tweeted.

In Jammu, state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz challenged Modi to a debate on Article 370, alleging Modi has no knowledge of either the constitution or the history of the country.

"He has become used to saying whatever comes to his mind without having any knowledge of either the country's constitution or its history," he said.

People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti maintained that Article 370 of the Constitution cannot be abrogated "without the Jammu and Kashmir constituent assembly's consent", and it was "no Babri Masjid to be demolished by communal forces".

"Article 370 connects Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India and if it is abrogated, the accession of the state with India will automatically become redundant," she told reporters in Srinagar.

Modi is ill-informed about Article 370, she said, adding: "Article 370 is not Babri Masjid which could be demolished by the communal forces."

Modi Monday expressed happiness over the debate generated by his remarks.

"Glad that after my call for a debate on Article 370, it is being widely debated among people & across TV, social media... However, we need rational and focused debate not only on 370 but other issues relating to J-K, including suffering of sections of J-K society," he tweeted.

Supporting Modi, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said in a post on Facebook that it would be incorrect for anyone to interpret the party's challenge for a debate as a softening of stand on Article 370, which it wants abrogated.

He said the state's integration with India was an essential part of BJP's ideology.

"The Nehruvian vision of a separate status has given rise to aspirations for the pre-1953 status, self-rule and even Azadi. The desire of proponents of these three ideas has weakened the constitutional and political relationship between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country. The journey of separate status has been towards separatism and not towards integration," he said.

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