New Delhi, Apr 9: Firmly asserting his party's stand on Article 370 and Article 35A, Union Home Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rajnath Singh on Tuesday refused to pay heed to remarks made by regional parties of Jammu and Kashmir - the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) - on the contentious issue. He said that the BJP has made its stand clear in the manifesto and the party would "go ahead and do what we have to do" when it returns to power.
In the BJP's election manifesto released on Monday, the party reiterated its stand favouring the abrogation of Article 370, which gives autonomous status to J&K and allows grant of certain special provisions. The BJP also said the same about Article 35A that empowers the state's native citizens. According to the BJP, both laws have been an obstacle to development in the state.
"We made it clear in our manifesto that if we come to power again then Article 35A will be abrogated. No question of two presidents and prime ministers in India," he told news agency ANI.
NC vice-president Omar Abdullah had earlier said that his party would not allow any attacks on J&K's special status and would seek restoration of terms of accession of the state, including the provision for 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' (president) and prime minister posts. Another J&K regional party, the PDP, had said the centre will have to re-negotiate the terms and conditions if it scraps article 370 from the state. PDP chief and former chief minister Mehboob Mufti had said that J&K had joined India on some conditions and if those conditions are removed, then the people of the state will have to think again whether to stay with India or not.
Reacting to Omar's and Mehboba's remarks, Singh said, "This is frustration, nothing else. She can say anything, but we will do what we have decided. Kashmir will never be separated from India; no force can separate Kashmir from India."
While speaking on Kashmiri students studying in different parts of India, and reports on attacks on them in the aftermath of Pulwama terrorist attack, the Home Minister said that safety of Kashmiris living in any part of India is responsibility of all citizens.
"I want to assure it as the Home Minister, nobody needs to feel unsafe in India. Strict action will be taken against those who indulge in violence, irrespective of religion. Infact I had said yesterday in Jammu, that safety of Kashmiris studying or living in any part of India is responsibility of all citizens. Even an advisory was issued to all states regarding this," he told ANI in an interview.
When asked about media reports doing rounds about Nitin Gadkari being an aspirant for Prime Minister's post, Singh said "PM will be Modi ji, no doubt about that."
"These are all imaginary situations; it is 'khyali pulao' and nothing else. We will get clear majority or even 2/3rd, the PM will be Modi ji, no doubt about that," he said.
Some reports have suggested that if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerge as the single largest party significantly short of a majority, then some NDA allies may not back Modi as the next PM. Reports were doing rounds that in such a case, Nitin Gadkari could emerge as the consensus candidate both due to the strong backing of the RSS and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut having dropped hints on these lines.