BJP has always been opposed to Article 370, says the senior leader
Joining issue with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah over his remarks on Article 370 of the Constitution, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani counselled him to mind his language.
In his latest blog post, paying tribute to Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Mr. Advani, who had last week revived the party’s call for scrapping Article 370 — it confers J&K with special status — told Mr. Abdullah not to use words like “cheating and deceiving” with reference to the BJP, and stressed that his party has always been opposed to Article 370.
The senior BJP leader wrote: “The country eagerly awaits the day when Art. 370 would be repealed, and the two vidhans also would become one!”
Mr. Advani maintained that even the Congress leaders — other than Jawaharlal Nehru and a few others — were strongly opposed to giving a special status to J&K. He went on to quote from a biography of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel showing that even he was against Article 370 but had kept his views in the background due to his regard for Nehru.
“Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir State, has every right to disagree with the BJP on matters relating to J&K. But I would advise him never to use offensive language and words like ‘cheating’ and ‘deceiving’ in that context,” Mr. Advani wrote.
Raking up the issue of Article 370 last week, Mr. Advani had surprised many — the BJP has kept the demand on the back burner as part of an understanding with its electoral partners in the National Democratic Alliance.
A tactical move
The BJP has kept on hold three main items on the party’s Hindutva agenda — the uniform civil code, the construction of a Ram temple, and Article 370 — as a tactical move to bring like-minded parties under the NDA umbrella.
Mr. Advani has, of late, been urging his party leadership that it needed to adopt a strategy that would bring together all non-Congress parties.
In the assessment of Mr. Advani, who is an aspirant for the prime ministerial job, a controversial leader like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would be an obstacle to broader Opposition unity.
He believes that his view has gained further credence after the recent exit of the Janata Dal (United) from the NDA.
On the perceived mysterious death of Dr. Mookerjee at a detention centre in J&K while he was leading an agitation for abrogation of Article 370 in 1953, Mr. Advani said: “First and foremost, the permit system was abolished. Until this time, neither the Supreme Court, nor the Election Commission, nor the Comptroller and Auditor-General had any jurisdiction over the Jammu and Kashmir State. The authority of these three constitutional bodies was extended to the State.
“Till then, the Chief Minister of the State was called the Prime Minister, and the Head of State the Sadr-e-Riyasat. In theory, thus, neither the President nor the Prime Minister of the Union had authority over the State.
“Dr. Mookerjee’s martyrdom brought about a change in this situation also. Sheikh Abdullah became Chief Minister, Sadr-e-Riyasat became Governor, and the President and PM’s formal authority got extended to Jammu and Kashmir State also,” Mr. Advani noted.