Indian PM Narendra Modi lashed out at former J&K CM and aspiring PM of Kashmir – Omar Abdullah for advocating a separate post of prime minister and president for Jammu and Kashmir.
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Demanding an answer from the Congress party, Modi said that the Congress’s ally wants to turn the clock back to 1953 when there was a separate prime minister for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“A major ally of the Congress — mahagathbandhan’s powerful member — the National Conference has said that there should a separate prime minister in Kashmir. You tell me, do you agree with this demand of the Congress’s ally?” the PM asked.
PM Modi further added that the Congress party is liable for an answer as to how its ally could muster enough courage to raise such a request. Earlier, the National Conference leader said that Kashmir became a part of the Union of India on the grounds that “it would have its own identity, its own constitution”.
Addressing a public gathering in J&K’s Bandipora, Omar Abdullah said, “Rest of the princely states merged with the country without condition but we had said that we will have our own identity, our own constitution. We had our own ‘Sadar-e-Riyasat (President)’ and ‘Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister)’ too. By God’s grace, we will bring that back.”
Following Modi’s remarks, the NC leader reasserted his stand, saying that his party has always stood for the restoration of the terms of accession which Maharaja Hari Singh negotiated for J&K in 1947. He also asked the Congress and other opposition parties “not to hesitate” in distancing themselves from his remark.
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“Please don’t hesitate to distance yourselves from my speech of today. In fact, call Modi’s bluff by doing exactly that,” he tweeted.
Abdullah, while speaking to reporters after the address in Bandipora, also warned that any tampering with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, notably, Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution, will lead to a rethinking of the state’s relationship with the nation.
“They are talking about removing Article 35 A. When they did not hear about 35A, what will they remove? As far as removing that is concerned, we won’t let that happen,” Omar said.
“A promise was made to this state and people of the state. There is no time-limit over that promise. We were not told that this was for 10 years or 20 years. We were told that as long as Jammu and Kashmir remains a part of this country, the state will continue to enjoy special status,” he went on to say.
The former chief minister added, “Obviously, what will be our relationship with this country if you remove that special status? Our relation is on that basis. You are talking of removing Article 370 and Article 35 A, then you will have to talk about this (rethinking Jammu-Kashmir’s relation with India) too.”
Article 370 of the Constitution grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35 (A) grants special rights and privileges to the citizens of the state.
Abdullah’s remark came close on the heels of PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti’s statement on Sunday when she had warned that the relationship between the state and the union will be over if Article 370 of the Constitution is revoked.
Hitting back at finance minister Arun Jaitley for advocating repeal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti said, “Jaitley must understand this. It is not an easy thing to say. If you scrap (Article) 370, your relation with J&K will be over.”
Mehbooba said Article 370 was a bridge between the Union and the state and if the special provision of the Constitution was revoked, then New Delhi would have to “renegotiate” its relationship with Jammu and Kashmir.
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