July 2000 News

''1975 accord should be basis for J&K devolution package''

13 July 2000
Hindustan Times

New Delhi: CONGRESS PRESIDENT Sonia Gandhi today charged the BJP Government with lack of a coherent and cohesive policy on the Kashmir issue while reaffirming her party''s stand that the 1975 accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah should form the basis for any devolution of more powers to the State. Mrs Gandhi said even though J& K''s accession to India was final and irrevocable, it was possible for the Government to hold discussions with Dr Abdullah within the framework of the Constitution and the 1975 Accord. ''All political parties should work together to bring about a positive and satisfactory conclusion (to the controversy),'' she remarked. Mrs Gandhi said her party understood the sentiments of the people of Kashmir and the difficult situation there. But there was no question of the Congress supporting any move for restoration of the 1952-53 situation. Addressing PCC presidents, CLP leaders and other party functionaries here, Mrs Gandhi lashed out at the NDA Government for speaking in different voices on the J&K Assembly''s autonomy resolution. ''The Home Minister says one thing, the Chief Minister of J&K says something else and the PM says that the matter can be discussed in Parliament,'' she remarked while pointing out that Mr Vajpayee chose to invite Dr Abdullah for talks after the resolution was rejected outright by the Union Cabinet. Answering newsmen''s questions later on indiscipline in the party, Mrs Gandhi lamented what she called ''deliberate focus'' on the Congress to divert attention from the weaknesses of the BJP-led Government which has been talking in ''different voices'' on important issues. Mrs Gandhi argued that the problems faced by the Congress were the same as those encountered by other parties. ''Others also have such problems of indiscipline but these are not taken up as forcefully. The Congress is a large family where we listen and accommodate various views,'' the party president maintained. However, she justified punitive action in certain cases as some amount of discipline was needed. In her address to the party leaders, Mrs Gandhi expressed deep concern over the attack on minorities, asking Congressmen to pressurise the Government to do the needful. She said, in most cases, the Government seemed helpless in tackling steep deterioration in the law and order situation.


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