In a raging political war over Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, union minister Farooq Abdullah had now hit out at Narendra Modi.”Even if Modi becomes PM for ten times, he will not be able to do away with Article 370. You talk of debate, BJP does not indulge in any debate,” Mr Abdullah told reporters in Delhi last night.Mr Abdullah is the father of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who has also slammed Mr Modi for his comment that women did not enjoy equal rights in his state.Mr Modi, who is running for Prime Minister, had said at a rally on Sunday, “As per Constitution, the debate will go on whether Article 370 will end or continue – at least there should be debate whether Article 370 has benefited Jammu and Kashmir or not.”
The comments seemed to suggest a significant shift and dilution in the stand of Mr Modi’s BJP, which has, for decades demanded the scrapping of Article 370.It has been a key political agenda for the BJP’s ideological mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS; rivals have attacked it. The Gujarat chief minister repeated his views in a tweet yesterday “Glad that after my call for a debate on Article 370, it is being widely debated among people & across TV, social media. However, we need rational & focused debate not only on 370 but other issues relating to J&K, including suffering of sections of J&K society.”Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj clarified that the party is not “going soft” on the issue. “It is wrong to say that the BJP has gone soft on Article 370. Modi has just asked if there has been any benefit from 370,” she said.