NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday disowned its overseas Congress unit in the UK, saying it is not authorised to talk on India's internal matters with outsiders, after Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn claimed he met local members of the Congress party and discussed "human rights situation" in Jammu and Kashmir.
Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma expressed shock by this "misrepresentation" and said the Indian overseas Congress is only supposed to be confined to the Indian diaspora and not discuss policy issues with outsiders.
"We are shocked by this misrepresentation and any unauthorised statement that has been made on behalf of the Congress party. The delegation which met or for that matter any committee or chapter of the Indian Overseas Congress has neither a mandate nor any authorisation to speak on behalf of the Congress party on any matter which pertains to policy or India's domestic issues. They are supposed to be confined only to the Indian diaspora," Sharma told reporters.
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He said the matter has been brought to the party's attention and the Congress position is "firm, consistent and clear", as articulated in its working committee resolution of August 6.
"Any issue pertaining to the state of Jammu and Kashmir are purely India's internal affairs. So, what the Congress party has to say is communicated officially here, and no other entity, individual or a body, has any authority to do so.
"We disown any such claim in entirety. I am conveying this to the leadership of the Labour Party and to Barry Gardener, who heads the foreign affairs department of Labour Party to convey this to Jeremy Corbyn," Sharma said.
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He said there was no question of the Congress party discussing India's internal matters with the Labour chief in the UK and will never do so with outsiders.
Corbyn, however, had tweeted, "A very productive meeting with UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party where we discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir. There must be a de-escalation and an end to the cycle of violence and fear which has plagued the region for so long."
The Labour leader, whose stand on Kashmir has not gone down well with the Indian government, also tweeted a picture of the meeting.
The picture included Kamal Dhaliwal, who heads the overseas Congress in the UK.
Dhaliwal has been seen in pictures with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Earlier, the BJP lashed out at the Congress over its "shameful shenanigans" and demanded an explanation from it on the meeting.
The Congress party responded by accusing the BJP of making "malicious statements" to distract people from its failures.
It tweeted that the BJP has failed to answer questions on economic slowdown, unemployment and banking crisis and is resorting to spreading lies instead.
"The BJP has failed to answer a single question on the economic slowdown, rising unemployment, banking crisis and even the irregularities in the Rafale deal. Therefore they have to resort to spreading lies to evade the truth. They can't hide behind their propaganda anymore," it tweeted.
The UK unit of the Indian Overseas Congress has claimed it had met Corbyn to condemn the Kashmir resolution passed by his party and reiterate to them that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter and no intervention will be accepted.
"Our meeting with Jeremy Corbyn was held to condemn the Kashmir resolution passed by his Party and to reiterate that J&K is an internal matter and outside intervention will not be accepted. BJP's malicious statements are another attempt to distract people from their failures," it said in a tweet.