Modi seeks debate on Article 370

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Jammu, December 1:  Addressing his first rally in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, Gujarat Chief Minister and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi sought ‘at least a debate’ on Article 370 (that grants special status to J&K) and assured the people that the party would transform the ‘separate State’ into a ‘super State,’ even as he laid stress on development and integration. He avoided references to terrorism, border killings and the communal riots in Kishtwar.

“Irrespective of whether it remains a part of the Indian Constitution or not, the time has come for at least a debate to find whether Article 370 has benefited the common man in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the need of the hour. The Congress has unfortunately obfuscated this issue with the rhetoric of secularism to the extent where it is hard to count its merits and demerits,” he said.

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lately scolded us, saying the BJP leaders were uselessly referring to the big names and they had no will to act. We would just remind him one thing about Nehru: He [Nehru] had said that Article 370 would get worn out with the passage of time and die. We ask Manmohan Singhji, why doesn’t his government act on Nehru’s wish [to repeal the law],” Mr Modi said.

Significantly, Mr. Modi did not push the BJP’s trademark demand for the repeal of Article 370. He did not make sharp attacks on Pakistan, terrorism and Kashmir’s separatist leadership. His 40-minute speech made no mention of this year’s killing of the Indian troops on the International Border and the LoC, ceasefire violations, the fidayeen attacks at Hiranagar and Samba or the communal riots of Kishtwar. Mr. Modi, nevertheless, paid rich tributes to the Army and paramilitary forces who sacrificed their lives while fighting terrorism and protecting the country.

The BJP claimed that around one lakh people, including a few thousand Muslims, participated in the ‘Lalkaar Rally’ that could mark beginning of a fiery campaigning for the coming Lok Sabha elections in the State.

Mr. Modi, accompanied by party president Rajnath Singh, spoke at length about the need for ‘transformation’ in Jammu and Kashmir. The Congress, he alleged, had sown the seeds of a ‘separate State’. “I assure you that the BJP’s government will transform Jammu and Kashmir into the country’s super State,” he asserted.

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