The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Wednesday jumped into the political storm triggered by Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, about a debate on the relevance of Article 370 that gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Hitting out at Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for issuing a veiled threat that his state would cease to be part of India if Article 370 is revoked, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said that J&K will always been an integral part of India.
“J&K won’t b part of India? Is Omar thinking its his parental estate? 370 or no 370 J&K has been n will always b an integral part of India.” Tweeted Madhav in response to Omar Abdullah.
First-time Lok Sabha member from Udhampur Lok Sabha seat Jitendra Singh had said the Modi government is open to debate on merits and demerits of Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir and would make efforts to “convince” the “unconvinced” by holding contact programmes with every section of society in the state.
Omar reacted angrily to Singh’s comments. Taking to Twitter to vent his ire against the new minister, Omar said, “So the new MoS PMO says process/discussions to revoke Art 370 have started. Wow, that was a quick beginning. Not sure who is talking.”
“Article 370 was the ‘ONLY Constitutional link’ between the state and the rest of the country.”
PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti also expressed strong reservations against any attempt to tinker with Article 370.
“Singh should realise that his newly-acquired position as a junior minister comes with some responsibilities and the Prime Minister should intervene to discipline him. The PMO must clarify the statement to reassure the people of J&K that no mischief is on its way,” Mehbooba Mufti said in a statement.
With the BJP finding itself in a spot over the issue, Jitendra Singh later issued a statement saying he has been “misquoted” in media reports.
“I seek to clarify that the reports in the media about my statement on Article 370 are misquoted. I have never said anything quoting the Honourable Prime Minister. The controversy is totally baseless,” he said in a statement.
“We will take a call…You saw what we said during the (election) campaign… The government will take a structured view on this,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Singh had also made it clear that BJP stood for abrogation of Article 370 (which gives special status to J&K) but at the same time it wanted to convince the people and have a democratic approach to finding a lasting solution to the issue.
“If we do not have debate and discussion, how would you be able to tell those who have been unable to understand what they have been deprived of on account of Article 370”? he said after taking over as Minister of State incharge of Department of Personnel and Training, which has administrative control over CBI.