Kicking off the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaign for the Maharashtra Assembly election on Sunday, party president Amit Shah asked voters to choose between nationalistic parties, such as the BJP which withdrew Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir, and family-oriented parties, such as the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), who opposed the decision.
“This is the first election after the decision on Article 370. Those parties who opposed the decision of abrogation of Article 370 should be shown their place in this election. The people of Maharashtra now need to take a decision. Will they choose a nationalistic party that takes pride in serving them or a party that just serves a family,” said Mr. Shah. He was addressing a seminar organised by the Mumbai unit of the BJP on the withdrawal of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir.
The BJP is set to contest the coming Maharashtra and Haryana polls on this plank, with Mr. Shah urging his party workers to reach out to every household explaining the decision on Article 370.
“Article 370 was the reason why every Indian had to say and prove that Kashmir was an integral part of the nation. We abrogated the Article 370 because until it was active, Jammu and Kashmir wasn’t an integral part of India,” he said.
Criticises Rahul Gandhi
Targeting former Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his opposition to the manner in which the decision on Article 370 was taken, Mr. Shah said, “Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says Article 370 is a political matter. He has just arrived in politics. We have been giving our lives for the last three generations for Kashmir. It could be a political matter for Congress even today. For us, it was a matter of uniting the nation, a dream that Prime Minister Modi has made true.”
Advising Mr. Gandhi to keep national interests above party politics, the Union Home Minister said that it was Congress government in 1994 which had asked former Prime Minister and BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee to present India’s position on Kashmir at the United Nations. Mr. Shah did not mention that the other members who took on Pakistan along with Vajpayee also included former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, Congress leader Salman Khurshid and former Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
“Rahul Gandhi questioned the surgical strike, he stood with students who chanted anti-India slogans in JNU and is now opposing decision on Article 370. He is still against the decision. I want to remind him that Atal Bihari Vajpayee had praised Indira Gandhi after we had won the Bangladesh war because it wasn’t a political issue, but a national issue,” he said.
Reiterating that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is to be blamed for the problem of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr. Shah said that Sardar Patel integrated big territories such as Hyderabad and Junagarh, but the Kashmir issue was handled by Nehru. “The issue of Pak-Occupied Kashmir wouldn’t be there had Jawaharlal Nehru not announced an untimely ceasefire in 1947 when the Army was fighting against the Pakistani infiltrators in J&K, the Indian territory,” he said.