Congress distances itself from Chidambaram's "azadi in Jammu-Kashmir" statement
Drawing sharp criticism from BJP, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the Union Government should seriously consider Jammu & Kashmir's "azadi" demand and give greater autonomy to the restive state. However, Congress distanced itself from Chidambaram's comments saying it is an individual's opinion and not the party's. Congress's Chief Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said J&K will always remain an integral part of India unquestionably.
Congress spokesperson Surjewala's statement
Randeep Singh Surjewala said: "The opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the Indian National Congress. In our democracy, individuals are entitled to their opinion. Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so unquestionably."
Manmohan Singh-led policy planning group to visit J&K
Surjewala said Congress created a policy-planning group chaired by former PM Manmohan Singh for carrying forward the peace initiative in J&K. The group is going to visit the state, especially the Kargil and Ladakh regions, between 10-12 November. The spokesperson added the group would submit a report and share its experience and feedback with Congress President Sonia Gandhi after concluding the deliberations.
UPA government proved to be a watershed: Surjewala
Surjewala asserted the Congress-led UPA Government's 10-year rule was a turning point in restoring normalcy, tourism, economic activity, and infrastructural development in Jammu & Kashmir. He added they fought militancy and terrorism decisively. Hitting out at the BJP government, Surjewala asked it to list the steps it has taken to restore peace and normalcy or its roadmap to ensure J&K's development.
Surjewala criticizes BJP
Attacking the Union and J&K governments for the "situation" in the restive valley, Surjewala told them to "introspect on the issue". He reminded how the Vajpayee Government released terrorist Masood Azhar and took him to Kandahar after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked in 1999.
Chidambaram's Kashmir remarks draw stinging criticism from BJP
Meanwhile, Union Minister Smriti Irani slammed Chidambaram for his "greater autonomy in J&K" statement saying it was "shocking and shameful". Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attacked the senior Congress leader, calling Congress's position on the Kashmir issue is contrary to the national interest. He added it was the Congress party's flawed policy since 1947 that is responsible for the Kashmir issue.
Kashmir problem, a Congress party legacy: Jaitley
Explaining how Congress is responsible for the current situation in J&K, Jaitley said: "Historically, Kashmir problem is a Congress party legacy. Instead of learning from its past mistake the Congress wants to precipitate a crisis further for this country."