Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Congress for “lending its voice for Kashmir’s azadi” and said that his government would not compromise on India’s unity and integrity, a day after former home minister P Chidambaram said India should consider granting “larger powers” to Jammu and Kashmir as “promised under Article 370.”
“All of a sudden, those who were in power till yesterday have taken a U-turn. Shamelessly, they are… lending their voice for Kashmir’s azadi… using language… used by the separatists in Kashmir (and)… spoken by Pakistan,” Modi told BJP workers in Bengaluru.
“This is an insult to our soldiers,” he said, adding that thousands of Indian soldiers had “sacrificed their lives for Kashmir.”
“This is land of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and we will not allow any compromise with the unity and integrity of the country,” he said.
Senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram had Saturday said “most” Kashmiris actually want autonomy when they demand ‘azadi’ from India.
“My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azadi, most people— I am not saying all— the overwhelming majority wants autonomy.”
“Therefore, I think we should seriously examine that question and consider on what areas we can give autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. It is perfectly within the Constitution of India. Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India but it will have larger powers as promised under Article 370,” Chidambaram said at an event in Rajkot in response to a question on the Indian government’s appointment of a “representative” for “sustained dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Without taking Chidambaram’s name, Modi said he was surprised that this was coming from “those who were in power at the Centre, those who were responsible for the country’s internal security and national security.”
In his rebuttal, Chidambaram asked Modi and the BJP to read his statement before criticising.
“It is obvious the PM has not read the whole answer to the question put to me on Jammu and Kashmir. Those who criticise must read the whole answer, and tell me which word in the answer was wrong. The PM is imagining a ghost and attacking it,” Chidambaram told news agency ANI.
The Congress has distanced itself from his remarks, saying the “opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the party”.
Its chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had said that Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral” part of India and “will always remain so unquestionably”.