BENGALURU: Picking on senior Congress leader P Chidambaram remarks on autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday mounted a sharp offensive on the Congress for its leaders “shamelessly speaking in the same language as separatists in Kashmir and elements in Pakistan”.
“This is an insult to our brave soldiers,” PM Modi said at a public meeting in Karnataka capital Bengaluru, linking Mr Chidambaram’s remarks to the party’s response to last year’s surgical strikes at terrorist camps across the line of control in Pakistan.
“Now I can imagine why Congress leaders were angry after surgical strikes,” he said, asking if the Congress, which was determined to politicise sacrifices of soldiers, could do any good for the country.
Former Home Minister P Chidambaram promptly called out the Prime Minister, saying the Prime minister “is imagining a ghost and attacking it”.
“Those who criticise must read the whole answer and tell me, which word in the answer was wrong,” he said.
PM Modi said after the many electoral defeats, he thought Congress leaders would help bring the party back on track. “But in one incident after another, I am seeing irresponsible behaviour (from the Congress),” he said,
Yesterday, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had pitched for greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, saying his interactions with people had led him to conclude that “when Kashmiris ask for azadi, mostly, I am not saying all… the overwhelming majority… want autonomy.”
As the comment drew stinging criticism from the BJP, the Congress fielded its chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala to distance the party from Mr Chidambaram’s statement.
An “opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the party”, Mr Surjewala said. But he didn’t spell out the party’s stand, saying a panel led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that was looking into all issues in context of Kashmir.
The opposition National Conference, however, has supported the demand for “restoration of autonomy” and asked the government to end what it called its “muscular policy”. At the National Conference delegates’ conference that met today after 15 years, the National Conference also asked the centre to initiative “political dialogue”.