Reacting strongly to comments made by Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday that his party supported restoration of Article 370 to Jammu and Kashmir, Amit Shah said the party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should make their stand on the issue clear.
Shah also said that there was “no question” of going back on the promise of restoring statehood to the Union Territory.
“I think Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should officially endorse this statement so that the people of India know [where they stand]…The president of their party should come clean on this,” Shah said in an exclusive interview with editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi. He said that although the Congress had made its stance – of being against the abrogation of Article 370 – clear in Parliament, it was necessary for the party leadership to give clarity on the issue.
Chidambaram had in a series of tweets said that his party “resolutely” stood for restoration of the status and rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and that the “arbitrary and unconstitutional” decisions of the Modi government made on August 5, 2019 must be rescinded. His comments came shortly after a joint declaration by the ‘Gupkar Declaration’ (and alliance of regional parties in the UT) to fight for the restoration of Kashmir’s special status.
BJP president JP Nadda had also called Chidambaram’s statements shameful and an attempt to ‘divide India’.
Amit Shah also said that although Covid-19 had slowed development work and progress in Kashmir, the arrival of the new administrative head of the UT, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, has fast-tracked development.
“I agree that a lot should have happened in Kashmir, but with the outbreak of Covid-19, the focus of the union government was on dealing with the pandemic first. I think with the arrival of Manoj Sinhaji some pending works have resumed really quickly. He is doing his best to ensure that works of development – from the distribution of Ayushman Bharat cards to the extension of piped water supply – reach ground level,” Shah said.
He added that several stalled infrastructure projects have resumed in the valley and that within the next five to six months “you will be able to see improvement in the state of things. In the last one-and-a-half months development works have really picked up well.”
The Union Home Minister said that as far as law and order situation was concerned, the situation in Kashmir was now “normal”. On the issue of restoration of statehood to the union territory, Shah said that his government was “duty-bound” to honor the promise that he had made on the floor of the Parliament.
“We cannot say anything about the time limit within which we will do it [restore the statehood]. But I have said on the floor of the Parliament, so has the Prime Minister, that statehood will be restored. There is no question of going back on this promise. I don’t think a lot of time will be spent on this but our priority at the moment was on fast-tracking development in the valley,” Shah said.