Digvijay says Cong to have 'relook' at Art 370 revocation; BJP says 'script' directed from Pak12 June 2021
(Eds: Adding inputs) New Delhi-Bhopal: A row erupted on Saturday over Congress leader Digvijay Singh's purported comments in an audio chat on social media that his party will have a 'relook' at Article 370 revocation and Jammu and Kashmir's lost statehood if it returns to power, with the BJP accusing him of speaking 'the language of Pakistan' and spewing venom against India. Singh's remarks to a person, who the BJP said was a journalist of Pakistani origin, were seized by its leaders to unleash a torrent of criticism against the opposition party and demand statements from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi on the issue. 'The decision of revoking Article 370 and reducing the statehood of J&K is extremely, I would say, sad decision, and the Congress party would certainly have a relook on the issue,' Singh said, according to excerpts of the clubhouse conversation available on social media. He was responding to a question about the 'way forward' on the issue 'once the Modi government is gone'. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra cited old comments of other Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Mani Shankar Aiyar, to allege that Singh's remarks were part of a larger pattern of the party being 'hand in glove' with Pakistan. 'The script was originally written by Gandhis and directed from Pakistan,' lashed out Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina, and said that his party will not allow the Congress leaders' 'conspiracy' against India to succeed even if they take '100 rebirths'. In Singh's home state Madhya Pradesh, BJP unit chief V D Sharma said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) should investigate the phone calls of Singh, a two-time former chief minister, and questioned the involvement of a Pakistani journalist in this chat. 'Kashmir is the crown jewel of India. It is an integral part of the country. It was the Congress which committed the sin of imposing Article 370 in KashmirCongress speaks the language of Pakistan,' Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said. As the BJP attacked him, Singh posted a tweet in Hindi in an apparent jibe at the ruling party. 'This bunch of illiterate people cannot probably differentiate between 'shall' and 'consider',' the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said. When asked about Singh's remarks, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, 'The Congress Party has clearly stated its position on Jammu and Kashmir, in its resolution of August 6, 2019 of the Congress Working Committee. This is the only official stance of the party. I urge and request all senior leaders to refer to the same.' The Congress had, at that time, criticised the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated and J-K was split into two Union territories, saying it 'pledges to stand with the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and to fight the BJP and its divisive agenda'. Attacking Digvijay Singh, Patra told reporters, 'We have all seen how Digvijay Singh is spewing venom on India and speaking in agreement with Pakistan. This is the same person who had dubbed the Pulwama attack as an accident and described the 26-11 Mumbai attack as an RSS conspiracy.' Taking aim at Rahul Gandhi, Patra alleged he had also termed the Indian Army's surgical strikes and airstrikes against terrorists as 'farzikal strikes' and used ' khoon ki dalali' barb against the prime minister. Patra claimed, 'There is a very high possibility that whatever Digvijay Singh said in his clubhouse chat, it could have all been stage-managed. The statements and thoughts of the Congress and Pakistan are always identical and very similar, which cannot be a coincidence.' 'This is all part of the toolkit which the BJP had exposed,' Patra said on the remarks of Congress leaders and referred to a controversial document rejected as fake by the opposition party. The Congress would go to the extent of collaborating with China and Pakistan to spread 'hate' against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India, he alleged. 'The Congress should change its name from INC (Indian National Congress) to ANC, Anti-national Clubhouse. This is such a clubhouse whose members have begun hating India while hating Modi,' he alleged. Patra asked Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to make their party's stand clear on the issue. He claimed that Rahul Gandhi is the leader of these Congress politicians, adding that Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan had used his criticism of Article 370 as part of his country's dossier against India on the issue at the UN. He alleged the Congress wants to 'serve Kashmir to Pakistan on a platter' and that it never wanted peace and prosperity there. Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Kiren Rijiju were among other BJP leaders who targeted the Congress in their tweets over the issue. Giriraj Singh alleged, 'Congress's first love is Pakistan. Digvijay Singh conveyed Rahul Gandhi's message to Pakistan. Congress will help Pakistan in grabbing Kashmir.' BJP's IT cell's chief Amit Malviya shared the clip of Digvijay Singh's purported chat on his Twitter handle 'Democracy was not there in Kashmir when they revoked Article 370. Then 'insaniyat' (humanity) was not there because they put everyone behind bars and 'Kashmiriyat' is something that is basically the fundamentals of secularism. 'Because in a Muslim-majority state, there was a Hindu raja (king) and both worked together. In fact, the reservation in Kashmir was given to Kashmiri Pandits in government services,' Singh is heard saying. Chouhan said Sonia Gandhi should clear the stand of the Congress party on this issue. 'She should answer, and if they do not answer, then it will be assumed that they completely agree with Digvijay Singh ji's views,' he said. Chouhan said that Singh will never be successful in his intentions. 'No matter how hard you try, your plans will never be successful. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh, this country is one, and will continue to be one,' he said while accusing the Congress' Rajya Sabha MP of fuelling separatism and disturbing peace in Kashmir. Talking to PTI, a senior state Congress spokesperson said this was a national issue and the party has yet not issued any guidelines to speak on this subject. 'We can't give a reaction on Singh's alleged statement on this issue as of now,' he said. Former minister and Congress MLA from Raghogarh, Jaivardhan Singh, who is the son of Digvijay Singh, in a tweet said, 'The next election will not be fought on Article 370 but on the issues of rising inflation, unemployment and the devastation caused by COVID-19 in the country.' Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also reacted sharply to the purported remarks of the Congress leader and requested the Centre and the J-K Government to keep an eye on 'elements who, on the behest of their separatist friends and to gain some limelight, issue such sadistic statements hurting the sentiments of nationalist citizens.' 'This pro-Pakistan agenda of terrorists can never be fulfilled as Congress or Digvijay-minded people are never going to regain political power in India,' J-K VHP president Leelakaran Sharma said in a statement.