Narendra Modi seeks debate on Article 370, draws flak from Congress, Omar

BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi went back on his party’s demand for scrapping Article 370 and special status to Jammu and Kashmir and demanded a debate to evaluate its benefited to the state.

Zee Media Bureau

Jammu: Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday performed a ‘volte-face’ on his party’s demand for scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and demanded a debate to evaluate its benefited to the state.

His softer stance on the issue however did not please the Congress party that dismissed his demand as ‘double speak’ while J&K CM Omar Abdullah to get his facts right.

Addressing a rally in Jammu, Modi seconded BJP President Rajnath Singh sentiments and said that his party wanted a discussion on the constitutional provision and if the Article 370 proved to be beneficial, his party would stand by the measure.

"As per Constitution, the debate will continue whether the Article 370 will end or continue-- at least there should be debate whether Article 370 has benefitted J&K or not," the Gujarat Chief Minister said.

In its response, the National Conference (NC), Congress` ruling coalition partner in J& K and at the Centre, wondered whether the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate was aware of the provisions of Article 370.

"I challenge him or any of his minions to reproduce verbatim the section of Art 370 that determines the J&K state subject law," J&K CM Omar Abdullah tweeted.

Congress leader and Union Minister Manish Tewari said the two Articles are provisions which integrate various regions of India into the national mainstream.

"The manner they speak about Article 370 and Article 371 makes me conclude that they neither read the Constitution of India nor they have cared to attention in detail," Tewari said.

"It (Modi`s remark) completely reveals their(BJP) doublespeak. 10 years ago, five years ago, one year ago you would hear BJP talking about abrogating Article 370. Now they are talking about debate on Article 370," he added.

The views of Modi and Singh marked a departure from BJP`s position seeking complete abrogation of the provision giving special status to J-K in the Union of India.

At the same time, Modi said the former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had said that Article 370 will go with the time. "Will Congress go with the Nehru`s statement-- I want to question PM?"

"Article 370 has been used as a shield in Jammu and Kashmir for resorting to communalism-- experts of the Constitution should debate over it, he added.

Referring to the provision, Modi said that women had not been given equal rights in the state unlike in other parts of the country.

"If Omar (Abdullah) married outside Kashmir, his rights of being a citizen remain whereas his sister Sara loses the right for the same. Is this not discrimination against the women in the state," he asked, while referring to the Chief Minister`s family.

He accused the state government of indulging in corruption and claimed that the Prevention of Corruption Act is applicable everywhere other than J and K.

"For 60 years they talked about separate state (autonomy) but what did people get? Nothing and there is no accountability also...In the name of separate state, they encouraged separatism.

"It would have been better if they focused on creating a super state," he said.

Modi also said BJP would carry forward the initiatives in the state on the principles of "Insaniyat (humanity), Jamhuriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (composite secular Kashmiri culture)" as envisioned by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

With Agency Inputs