M A I N   N E W S

In Jammu, Modi softens on J-K’s special status, calls for debate
Says Article 370 has not ensured equal rights for women in the state
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 1
The BJP on Sunday appeared to have softened its stand on scrapping Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, with its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi batting for at least a debate on whether or not it has benefited the masses.

In a massive ‘Lalkar Rally’ — his first rally in Jammu after being named PM candidate — Modi said the ruling elite had been abusing the special constitutional provision for petty personal gain. “Only 50-odd families of Jammu and Kashmir are benefitting from the special status granted to this state. The beneficiaries have cunningly attached emotions of common masses with this Article by giving it communal colour so they can continue with their emotive and divisive politics to hoodwink the people,” Modi said, adding his party wanted a discussion on various aspects of the issue.

Modi’s view marked a departure from the party’s position seeking complete abrogation of Article 370 that gives special status to the state in the Union of India.

“Let us have an open debate. If Article 370 is proven to be beneficial for the common masses of Jammu and Kashmir, my party would stand by this Constitutional provision,” the Gujarat Chief Minister said. Other backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes were the worst victims of this special status, he said. Pointing towards provisions of Article 370, Modi said women had not been given equal rights in the state unlike in other parts of the country. "If Omar (Abdullah) married outside Kashmir, his rights of being a citizen remain, whereas his sister Sara loses the right for the same. Is this not discrimination against the women in the state," he asked, while referring to the Chief Minister's family.

Stating that the term secularism has been misused by those in power at the Centre to escape responsibility and accountability, he said Article 370 was another tool in the hand of the state’s ruling elite to hide their failures and bungling. He called upon Constitutional experts to at least discuss the extent to which the special provision had benefited the people of the state. Modi traced the history of “manipulations of Article 370” since 1947 and first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru’s term.

Substantiating his argument that Article 370 had bulldozed democratic institutions in the state, Modi spoke about non-implementation of the 73rd and 74th amendments of the Indian Constitution. In a veiled attack on the ruling NC, he said, “Those who talk about autonomy are not ready to provide the same to their own elected local bodies.”

Modi took the Vajpayee line and asserted that his party would follow the policy of “insaniyat (humanity), jhamuriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (brotherhood)” in the Valley. “For 60 years, they talked about a separate state (autonomy), but what did people get? Nothing and there is no accountability, too. In the name of separate state, they encouraged separatism. It would have been better had they focused on creating a super state,” he said. 

Biggest rally in state

Modi’s Lalkar rally is said to be the biggest-ever political gathering in the state’s history

People from remote Kargil to Tangdhar and from Ladakhpur to Paddar participated 

Omar, Modi lock horns

"If Omar (Abdullah) married outside Kashmir, his rights of being a citizen remain whereas his sister Sara loses the right for the same. Is this not discrimination against the women in the state?" Narendra Modi, Gujarat CM

"He (Modi) very conveniently used me and my sister as examples to illustrate a point that has no bearing on truth. Either he lies or is ill-informed." Omar Abdullah, J-K CM





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