PM Modi slams Chidambaram's remarks on Kashmir autonomy

Smriti Irani

"All of a sudden, those who were in power till yesterday have taken a U-turn".

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Sunday said the BJP should have fully read his comments on autonomy for Kashmir before criticising him.

Asked during an interaction in Rajkot whether he still felt that Jammu and Kashmir should be accorded greater autonomy to defuse the unrest in the valley, he said. "The overwhelming majority, they want autonomy". This he said while addressing a rally in Karnataka, a New Delhi based newspaper reported. "Those who criticise must read the whole answer and tell me which word in the answer was wrong". Modi is imagining a ghost and attacking it, Chidambaram said. "I want to know from people whether can we expect development from the Congress, which politicises such sensitive issues", he said. They have been making sacrifices for protecting the motherland, to protect the innocent residents of Kashmir.

"I want to ask the people of Bengaluru".

He further said the people who do politics over soldiers' sacrifice can not contribute to the welfare of the country. They don't have any shame in saying this.

He said the mothers, sisters and children of those who laid down their lives were seeking an answer from the Congress. "That mother is asking the question, that sister who has lost her brother is asking the question, and the child who has lost his father is asking the question".

The Prime Minister further said that the people have no expectations from the Congress party, adding the country's grand old party was disconnected from country's aspirations. "They are talking the language of separatists and pro-Pakistan elements".

Chidambaram landed in controversy after saying that Kashmir needed autonomy. He had warned otherwise the country will have to pay a "heavy price".

As the comment drew stinging criticism from the BJP, the Congress fielded its chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala to distance the party from Mr Chidambaram's statement. "It is hurting India's national interest and this is a very serious issue", he added.

Calling for a political initiative, the party said singular focus on military and operational mechanism to deal with the Kashmir issue was a "dangerous" approach and continued to alienate the people. "We won't let India's unity and diversity be compromised at any cost", the prime minister said. The NC also asked the government at the Centre to end what it alleged was its "muscular policy" vis-a-vis the state. Thousands of delegates from all three regions of the state attended the conclave.

"Congress has always believed that dialogue and discussion is the way forward for restoration of normalcy in the state, but it can only be within the framework of our Constitution".