The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has slammed the Congress party over the remarks of its senior leader P Chidambaram on Jammu and Kashmir. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday told reporters that the “party’s position with regard to azadi or greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir was against the national interest”.
He said that the Kashmir problem is the Congress's legacy, adding "now instead of learning from its past mistakes, the Congress wants to precipitate a crisis for this country."
"The position that the Congress has taken with regard to azadi or autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir goes directly contrary to India's national interest. It was the flawed policy of the Congress right since 1947 which is responsible for the Kashmir problem," Jaitley said.
"I think the Congress is deceiving the whole country, it is deceiving itself and it is encouraging separatism in J&K. It is hurting India's national interest and this is a very serious issue," he added.
Union Minister Smriti Irani too slammed the senior Congress leader over his statement on Kashmir.
“I think it is quite shocking and disgusting that P Chidambaram today speaks about breaking the Union of India into pieces and supports those who actually murdered our security forces just so that they can play havoc with law and order situation in J&K,” she said.
“Though I am not surprised because Mr Chidambaram reflects the Congress mentality,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Congress party has sought to distance itself from the remarks of its senior leader P Chidambaram on Jammu and Kashmir, saying the ‘opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the party’.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here on Saturday that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and ‘will always remain so unquestionably’.
“The opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the Indian National Congress. In our democracy, individuals are entitled to their opinion,” he said.
The Congress and former Union minister Chidambaram yesterday invited sharp criticism from the BJP over his remark pitching for greater autonomy for the restive Jammu and Kashmir. The Congress leader said that he was worried about what was happening in the Valley as there was a deep ferment there.
He had even said that ‘when people in Kashmir ask for azadi most of them want autonomy’. "Therefore, I think we should seriously examine the autonomy demand. It is very much within the Constitution. Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India with some amount of autonomy."
The Congress, Surjewala said, said has always believed that dialogue is the way forward for restoration of normalcy in the state, but it can only be within the framework of our Constitution.
He said that the party had constituted a policy-planning group under the chairmanship of former prime minister Manmohan Singh to carry forward the peace initiative in the state. The group will visit Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the Kargil and Ladakh regions, between November 10 and 12.
Once the group concludes its deliberations, it will submit a report and share feedback and experience with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he said.
"So, it would be wrong to prejudge the issue," he said.
The Congress spokesperson also choose to hit out at the governments at the Centre and in Jammu and Kashmir over their handling of the situation in the state and asked the ruling parties ‘to introspect’ on the issue.
He recalled how terrorist Masood Azhar was released and taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee
government. “Whereas, 10 years of the Congress-led UPA government proved to be a watershed in restoring normalcy, promoting economic activity, tourism and infrastructural development, engaging with the people within the framework of the Constitution and fighting terrorism and militancy decisively.”
Surjewala also asked the BJP government to list the steps it has taken to restore normalcy and peace in the state and its roadmap to ensure development there.