Article 370: CWC criticism of govt aimed at 'procedure'

By Anand Singh

New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) The Congress which was split over abrogation of Article 370 relating to Jammu and Kashmir, presented a united front at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, party sources said.

A senior Congress leader who participated in the CWC meeting - the party's top decision making body - on Tuesday, said that leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Deepender Singh Hooda and others, who have spoken against the party line, were on the back foot during the meeting.

However, he said even Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, outgoing party chief Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra avoided speaking directly against the government's move to revoke Article 370 from J&K but criticised the BJP-led NDA government for the way in which it was done without following procedures.

Sharing the details of the meeting, the party leader said, "Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad spoke for over 45 minutes during the CWC meeting. During his speech he explained the process how Article 370 and 35A were brought into existence in the state."

The party leader said former Union Minister Jitin Prasada during the meeting pointed out that the people across the country are in favour of the NDA government on Article 370.

"To this (former Finance Minister) P. Chidambaram said that same thing cannot be said for the Tamil Nadu where people have a different take," said the party leader who asked not to be named.

Scindia, while speaking at the CWC meeting, said he tweeted what the people of the country felt. Scindia said that he questioned the way the BJP government revoked the Article 370 from J&K. "But the Gandhi family and other leaders did not support him on this," the party leader said.

He pointed out that former Rohtak MP Hooda also defended his tweet over Article 370 saying he had tweeted similarly after the Pulwama terror attack and questioned the way the situation was tackled by the government.

The party leader further pointed out that former Union Minister R.P.N. Singh questioned the party leadership over what should be the way out of the situation as people were favouring the idea of the government to revoke Article 370 in J&K.

Singh also asked the party leadership about the political message instead of highlighting the technicality before going to the people.

The unnamed party leader said that Rahul Gandhi gave a patient hearing to the views raised by the other leaders and then said that "we have to stand with the truth".

"Rahul Gandhi told the party workers that public sentiment is not the barometer and we have to stand by the Constitution," he said.

This was supported by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders like P. Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, A.K. Antony, among others.

"Backing Rahul Gandhi, Chidambaram said that if, tomorrow, the government feels that Hindi should be implemented as the main language in Tamil Nadu then it will not be accepted by the people there," the party leader added.

The CWC on Tuesday passed a resolution denouncing scrapping of Article 370, terming the provision as the "Constitutional recognition of the Instrument of Accession between the state of Jammu and Kashmir and India".

The resolution was passed after a meeting of the CWC which lasted for over four hours against the backdrop of the Parliament approving the government's plan and a large number of Congress leaders coming out in support of it, saying it was in the national interest.

The CWC resolution also said that Article 370 deserved to be honoured until it was amended, after consultation with all sections of the people, and strictly in accordance with the Constitution.

Terming the abrogation as "unilateral, brazen and undemocratic", the resolution said the state was "dismembered" by misinterpreting the provisions of the Constitution.

The resolution also said the "CWC strongly reaffirmed the consistent and stated position of the Indian National Congress that J&K, including the areas under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and the part ceded by it to China, are integral parts of the Republic of India. The integration of J&K with India is final and irrevocable. CWC firmly asserted that all issues pertaining to J&K are internal matters of India and no outside interference will be tolerated."

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

--IANS

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