In a stinging attack on the Congress on the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused it of “shamelessly” taking a U-turn and lending its voice for “Kashmir’s azadi”, a language spoken by Pakistan.
Modi’s sharp comments came a day after senior Congress leader P Chidambaram pitched for greater autonomy for the restive Jammu and Kashmir yet again.
He told BJP workers here that his government would not compromise with the country’s unity and integrity.
“All of a sudden, those who were in power till yesterday have taken a U-turn. Shamelessly, they are making a statement and are lending their voice for Kashmir’s azadi,” Modi said.
Without taking Chidambaram’s name, the Prime Minister said, “I’m surprised that those who were in power at the Centre, those who were responsible for the country’s internal security and national security (are saying this).”
Modi said the country had no hope or expectations from the Congress.
Noting that Sardar Patel took important decisions for the country’s unity, he said thousands of jawans have sacrificed their lives for Kashmir.
“The country’s soldiers have sacrificed their lives every moment for the sake of security of the motherland and innocent citizens of Kashmir.
“I want to ask the people of Bengaluru, can the country benefit from such people who are playing politics on the sacrifice of our soldiers…? They don’t have any shame in saying this. The Congress party will have to give an answer for this (Chidambaram’s) statement…,” he said.
Modi said, “Those brave hearts who have sacrificed their lives, mothers who have lost their sons for the country… that mother is asking the question, that sister who has lost her brother is asking the question and the child who has lost his father is asking the question.”
But, he said, the Congress was “shamelessly using such language that is used by the separatists on Kashmir’s land. (They are) using the language that is spoken by Pakistan.”
Underlining that this was the land of Sardar Patel, he said, “We will not compromise with the country’s unity and integrity and we will not allow it happen.”
Chidambaram had told reporters in Rajkot in poll-bound Gujarat on Saturday, “The demand in the Kashmir Valley is to respect the letter and spirit of Article 370 that means they want greater autonomy. My interactions in J&K led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azadi, mostly, I am not saying all… the overwhelming majority, they want autonomy.”
“Yes, I do,” Chidambaram said when he was asked if he still thinks that Jammu and Kashmir should be given greater autonomy.
Chidambaram had in July 2016 advocated greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, saying India should restore the “grand bargain” under which Kashmir had acceded by granting a large degree of autonomy to it.
He had warned that otherwise the country will have to pay a “heavy price”.
The Congress, however, has sought to distance itself from the remarks of Chidambaram on Kashmir, saying the “opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the party”.