NEW DELHI: As the war of words on Article 370 escalated in the political arena, highly placed sources in the government made it clear that “no move would be made without initiating a process of bipartisan consensus building”.
While maintaining that debate has been “the basic tenet of Parliamentary democracy”, they asserted that abrogation of Article 370 was one of the immediate priorities of the new government.
The Centre is, however, not expected to make any hurried move or initiate any process “without building consensus” among the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), civil society and rest of the country.
Sources also indicated that the Centre was aware of the “security sensitivities of the issue”, which was the “primary and foremost concern”. “Every issue pertaining to that will be first taken into account,” they said.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Office was still in the process of being set up -- the Defence Ministry is being retained as an additional portfolio by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley; the order appointing the new National Security Adviser (Ajit Doval) is yet to be issued -- sources pointed out that it was too early to start initiating steps which would be “first discussed at all levels”.
Sources maintained that an innocuous statement by Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh and the Sangh’s “view on Article 370”, was being blown out of proportions. However, it was not denied that a debate on the issue was not something that the “government wanted to avoid”, as it could be part of a “larger consensus building” process.
Meanwhile, the RSS has reportedly cautioned the BJP against rushing through its plan on Article 370 and its leaders are learnt to have told party chief Rajnath Singh to prepare a roadmap first for discussions on the subject and then “hammer out a consensus”.
RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav, however, brushed aside the suggestion that the issue was taken up when Rajnath visited the RSS top brass, in the context of the sharp reactions it generated in J&K. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had termed it an “ill-informed move”.
Interestingly, BJP leader and Union Minister for Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari linked the issue to the development of J&K. But the main Opposition party, the Congress, alleged that the Centre’s remarks for a debate on Article 370 were not a “flip flop”, but a “carefully orchestrated attempt” at polarising the upcoming Assembly polls in J&K.