Article 370: Kashmir parties slam talk of revocation, RSS hits out at Omar (Third Lead)

Srinagar/New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) The row over article 370 escalated Wednesday with Jammu and Kashmir's political parties as well as Congress opposing any move to revoke the constitutional provision guaranteeing special status to the state and the RSS stressing that the state would remain an integral part of India and attacking Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for suggesting otherwise.

The state's ruling National Conference and its coalition partner, the Congress, as well as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) reacted strongly to Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh's statement that talks had been started with stakeholders to begin the revocation process.

Abdullah asked the central government to come clean on the "stakeholders" it was talking to on the contentious issue.

"We will oppose the move tooth and nail. Since it is the minister of state in the PMO talking, it is a policy matter. They (central government) must come clean and share who are the stakeholders they have talked to," he told journalists in Srinagar.

On Tuesday soon after Jitendra Singh's statement, Abdullah said: "Jammu and Kashmir would not be part of India if Article 370, which grants special status to the state, is revoked."

"Mark my words & save this tweet - long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won't be part of India or Art 370 will still exist," he had tweeted.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) hit back at Abdullah, saying the state would remain an integral part of India irrespective of Article 370 being repealed or not.

"J&K won't be part of India? Is Omar thinking it's his parental estate? (Article) 370 or no 370, J&K has been and will always be an integral part of India," RSS spokesman Ram Madhav tweeted.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Jitendra Singh's remarks were "deliberate, thought out orchestrated and intended to politicize and polarize".

"It is clear that all the rhetoric and all the camouflage about so-called development was just that. Something only as a camouflage till the elections were on," he said, adding "diverse, divisive agendas" were "nakedly out" the day some ministers took charge.

"The first priority which the BJP-led government could think of is Article 370. This is not a flip-flop. It is a carefully orchestrated attempt to politicize and polarize not only in Kashmir but across the country. It is intended to be inflammatory, divisive, and provocative and most important the BJP knows that they cannot do it," Singhvi said.

Attacking the move, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said: "Experts believe article 370 is the bridge of Jammu and Kashmir's accession to the country and if you break it, you go back to pre-1947 position. You give people to re-negotiate. Are you ready?"

She sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send out a signal that there is no such intention.

"It was okay till it was a poll cry, but what is happening now is dangerous. Do you want to go for one more partition?" she asked, while interacting with journalists in Srinagar.

The only debate than can happen is about strengthening article 370, she added.

Article 370 specifies that except for defence, foreign affairs, communications and ancillary matters (matters specified in the instrument of accession), the Indian Parliament needs the state government's concurrence for applying all other laws.

Congress state unit president Saifuddin Soz also reacted sharply to any such proposal, saying those who seek a debate on article 370 are "making a basic mistake of not appreciating the fact that this article is an integral part of the basic structure of the constitution and it can neither be amended nor abrogated by any authority in India, unless the people of Jammu and Kashmir themselves want it".

Soz said the state's people should particularly appreciate the fact that for the past 25 years or more, the BJP has been making three issues - abrogation of Article 370, adoption of common civil code and construction of Ram Temple - their poll planks but soon after the elections are over they put these issues on the backburner.