If people want, we will retain Article 370: BJP

'Islam will grow better in Kashmir during our regime'

SRINAGAR: Softening its stand on the contentious Article 370 of the Indian Constitution the BJP Wednesday said it won't press for the abrogation of the Article, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, if people of the state want it to stay. 

BJP also attempted to dispel fears of "saffronization" in Kashmir, claiming that Kashmiris would feel more secure if the BJP is voted to power in the country's only Muslim-majority state.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the BJP only wants discussion on Article 370 and its final decision rests with the people. 

Criticising political opponents of trying to create misconception about BJP by raking up Article 370, he said that “It is being said that BJP will repeal Article 370…they have been asking BJP to clear its stand on it,’’ Singh said a public rally in Baderwah. “We want discussion on it…what objection you have?’’ Singh asked, adding “whether people in a democracy do not even have the right to talk about it. The people will decide whether Article 370 has benefitted them or not’’.

“We do not want to get public support by creating fear, but by winning their hearts through love and affection and by creating trust among them,’’ Singh said.

Earlier BJP state vice president Ramesh Arora said BJP won’t touch Article 370 if people want it to stay: "We will take people into confidence and asses its merits and demerits to the state and proceed accordingly," he said.

Arora said a debate over this provision was a "serious issue and we (BJP) won't take any vague decision."

“We will take the aspirations of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir into account while dealing with this issue,” he added.

Arora, who is also in charge of BJP's Kashmir affairs, said Kashmiris will feel more secure if the BJP is voted to power in the state.

"Kashmiris need to vote en masse for the BJP. This contention is wrong that the BJP is a communal party. Kashmir is a land of Sufi saints. Islam will grow better during our regime,” said Arora. 

“The state as such has no religion but we (BJP) respect all religions and pledge religious freedom to all as guaranteed in the Indian constitution. Those who say the BJP would be a threat to Kashmiriyat ... are wrong,” he added.

"The actual threat is to those who say so. Our party will end administrative, police, bureaucratic and political injustice in the state," Arora said.

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