Omar Fumes As Modi's Minister Jitendra Singh Says 'process Of Abrogating Article 370 Has Begun'

27 May 2014
The Indian Express
Vijaita Singh

New Delhi: Within minutes of taking charge as the Minister of State (MoS), PMO, on Tuesday, Jitendra Singh triggered a controversy, stating that the process of abrogating Article 370 that grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir had already begun and that they had started discussing the issue with several stakeholders in the state. In a series of tweets, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said 'Article 370 is the ONLY constitutional link between J&K & rest of India' and 'Talk of revocation is not just ill-informed it's irresponsible'. Omar also said 'Long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won't be part of India or Art 370 will still exist'. Jitendra Singh, whose inclusion in the Modi government was a surprise given that he joined the BJP just two years ago, called Article 370 a 'psychological barrier'. Incidentally, Singh's brother Devender Singh Rana was advisor to Omar earlier and is the president of the National Conference's Jammu province. Singh was elected from Udhampur in Jammu, defeating Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad. Singh, who also holds the portfolio of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), said Article 370 is not in the interest of people and had done more harm to the state than good. 'We want to have a debate so that we can convince the unconvinced about the disadvantages of Article 370. We have already begun the process by inviting all stakeholders and tried to interact with several groups. The right to dissent is a constitutional right and we want to explain to the youth what advantages they have been deprived of in comparison to those belonging to other states,' said Singh. The BJP in its manifesto had said they would work towards abrogation of Article 370. When asked if the party had the mandate to do so, Singh said, 'The BJP has won half of the six Lok Sabha seats from Jammu and Kashmir. We have more than 50 per cent vote share.' Talking about the CBI, which falls under DoPT, Singh said the government will work towards 'restoring' the credibility of the agency and it will be given functional autonomy. 'The Narendra Modi government will ensure whatever independence they (the CBI) need to discharge their functions.'