BJP Never Sought Abrogation of Art 370: Singh

SRINAGAR: In an apparent u-turn, a top BJP leader Saturday said the ruling party stands for a relook at article 370 that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir but it never sought its abrogation or amendment.

"The BJP's poll plank was development and not article 370," Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V.K. Singh told reporters upon his arrival here.

"Article 370 got introduced somewhere or the other because the people kept asking about it. And I think all that the party said at that time was that we need to relook at all things in the country which unnecessarily create problems. That is all."

The BJP "never said it (article 370) is to be removed. It never said it has to be amended. Nobody said that," he said.

Singh also sent out a message to Kashmiri separatist leaders to come forward for talks with the central government.

"We have got no bar, anybody can come and meet us. There is no problem. A person must also come up if you have some problem, if you are not going to tell me the problem, how would I know of it?

"So it has to be a two-way dialogue. It cannot be just one way. Then it is seen differently.

"So what my recommendation would be through you, a message to all those who consider themselves as separatists or those who are called separatists, they should come forward, engage in a dialogue. Let us find a way that is good for Jammu and Kashmir.

Former Indian army chief however defended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and maintained that the Act doesn’t come in way of bringing erring soldiers to the book. “AFSPA does not give unlimited powers. We have seen what has happened in Machil fake encounter case where five army personnel, including two officers were handed over life imprisonment. No civilian court would have given a decision in such a short time,” he said.

Asked about the issue of Hindu Chief Minister raised by a senior Congress leader in the past, Singh said that only insecure political leaders raise such issues. "When people start feeling insecure they start talking of such things. No sane political leader, no mature political leader will ever talk of things like this," he said.

He also stated that the main agenda of BJP in Kashmir is the development of the state and that “people will vote for the party in coming elections to register its remarkable victory.” He also claimed that the BJP will do well in the coming assembly elections as the people are aghast over the snail’s pace development measures carried by the other political parties in the state during the past.

Taking a dig at the State government for not collecting data about the damage caused due to floods, Singh said that if State government wanted a package of Rs 44,000 crore for the flood victims, then it had to complete all the formalities. “Has State Government collected all data about the devastation that floods caused. Did it mention how many houses were destroyed and did it include people in this process,” he questioned adding that State government should explain what yardstick they have adopted in assessing these losses.

Expressing confidence about party’s victory in upcoming elections, Singh claimed that the BJP will do extremely well because none of the parties, mainstream or otherwise in Jammu and Kashmir has brought in development for people. “We have seen what kind of development is taking place here and we have seen what has happened in the recent floods. I can keep narrating incidents to you where the governments have floundered out here,” he said adding that none of these parties have benefited the people so far and so I think a time has come for the people to choose a party which will stand by them in the developmental needs of the state,” he said.

Singh said that his main purpose of the visit is to meet his party men and the candidates who are contesting the coming assembly elections. "I have come here to meet our people who are in the party organisation. I have come here to meet the people who are our candidates and get a feel how things are going.” 

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