Cracks in the Congress over scrapping of Article 370 widen
New Delhi, Aug 6: A number of Congress leaders across the country have gone against the party's stand in Parliament on abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution in Jammu and Kashmir by supporting the Centre's move and a bill to bifurcate the state. The Congress has strongly opposed the move and the bill to bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.
Going against the party's stand, senior Congress leaders Janardan Dwivedi, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Deepender Hooda have voiced support to the move. In an embarrassment to the Congress, another leader Anil Shastri said the grand old party should sense the mood of the people before taking a stand, noting they were with the government on this.
Dwivedi welcomed the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, saying even though it came late, a historical mistake had been corrected. Former Union minister Ashwani Kumar said abrogation of the special status was "consistent with the overwhelming mood of the nation. A demonstration of daring resolve though history alone will attest to its wisdom."
Scindia said he supported the move on Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and the state's full integration into the Union of India, adding that it was in the interest of the country.
"I support the move on #JammuAndKashmir & #Ladakh and its full integration into union of India. "Would have been better if constitutional process had been followed. No questions could have been raised then. Nevertheless, this is in our country's interest and I support this," he said on Twitter.
Shastri also said on Twitter, "Congress must sense the mood of the people and then take a stand. The people are totally with the government on this issue. We opposed Mandal and lost UP and Bihar and should not risk now of losing India." Hooda contended that the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir "is in the interest of national integrity". Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora said it was "very unfortunate" that Article 370 was being converted into a "liberal vs conservative debate".
"Parties should put aside ideological fixations & debate what's best for India's sovereignty and federalism, peace in J&K, jobs for Kashmiri youth and justice for Kashmiri Pandits," he said in a tweet.
"Abolishing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution could well be dubbed Modi Sarkar 2.0's demonetisation moment. "For the sake of peace and development in Jammu & Kashmir, I hope this decision plays out more favourably than demonetisation did," Deora noted.
Dwivedi said it was a matter of national satisfaction that a "mistake" made at the time of Independence was corrected. He added that after Independence, many freedom fighters did not want Article 370 to remain in place and cited the example of Ram Manohar Lohia, under whom he had his political training and who was against Article 370.
"This is a matter of satisfaction for the nation. This historical mistake that happened at the time of Independence has been rectified today, even though late, and is welcomed," Dwivedi told PTI, while clarifying that his opinion was personal and he was not putting forward his party's view.
Congress's chief whip in the Rajya Sabha Bhubaneshwar Kalita quit his membership in the Upper House of Parliament over the issue after the party asked him to issue a whip to all members for opposing the bill.
Hooda said, "I have always maintained that Article 370 should be scrapped. It has no place in the 21st century. Abrogation of this Article is in the interest of national integrity and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India. However, the onus of peaceful implementation of this transition in a trustworthy environment lies on the incumbent government."
Congress MLA from Rae Bareli Aditi Singh also said on Twitter, "United we stand! Jai Hind. #Article370." When someone reminded her that she was a Congress leader, Singh replied back, saying, "Main ek Hindustani hoon (I am an Indian)."
She termed it a historic decision and urged people not to politicise it. Singh's Assembly segment -- Rae Bareli Sadar -- is a part of UPA chairperson and former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency.
Meanwhile, sources said the top Congress leadership was learnt to be peeved at the comments of the party's leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, questioning whether Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter as it was being monitored by the United Nations.