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Cong leader Digvijaya Singh stir controversy with Article 370 remarks

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Congress functionary Digvijaya Singh stirred controversy during his “Clubhouse” conversation with a Pakistani journalist, where he said the party can consider reversing the Article 370 decision if it returned to office.

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Dubbing the “Clubhouse” conversation as part of Congress “toolkit”, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that Singh was a “stage manager” for the discussion and he had himself asked the Pakistani journalist to ask such a question. “I request the Congress party to change its name and change INC to ANC (Anti-National ClubHouse). People who hate Modiji have also, in turn, started hating India,” Patra said at a press conference.

Meanwhile, Singh seemed to clarify his comments and hit back at his critics calling them a “bunch of illiterate people” who were unable to identify the difference between “shall and consider”, one indicating intent and the other possibility. “A bunch of illiterate people probably do not understand the difference between ‘shall’ and ‘consider’,” he said.

Upon being asked a question on relations between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, Digvijaya Singh said, “Democracy was not there in Kashmir when they (Centre) revoked Article 370. Insaniyat (humanity) was not there because they put everyone behind bars. And Kashmiriyat is something which is basically the fundamentals of secularism.”

“The decision of revoking Article 370 and reducing the statehood of J&K is an 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.

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Singh, however, found support for his views in National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah. “I’m very grateful to Digvijaya Singhji. He has realised sentiments of people as other parties who have also spoken about it… hope govt will look into it again,” he said. 

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, “The Congress party has clearly stated its position on Jammu & Kashmir in its CWC resolution dated August 6, 2019. This is the only official stance of the party. I urge all senior leaders to refer to the same.” He also targeted BJP alleging that it was looking for a controversy to steer the attention away from the government’s poor handling of the pandemic and the havoc it had wreaked. This is, however, not a controversy the party was keen on, given BJP’s bid to tag it as a supporter of fringe and extremist causes.

Patra said it was Singh who had earlier termed the Pulwama attack just an accident and had called the 26/11 attack a conspiracy of the RSS and also tried to give clean chit to Pakistan at that time. “It is all part of that toolkit. Digvijaya Singh said if Modiji is out of power and Congress’s government comes, it will restore Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir,” Patra said as BJP looked to again pin Congress as siding with “secessionist” forces.

“Congress is speaking the language of Pakistan. By restoring Article 370, does he (Digvijaya Singh) want to fan the flames of terrorism and separatism in Kashmir? Sonia Gandhi, this country needs an answer from you,” Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said rather than instigating Kashmiri people, Digvijay Singh must take a lesson in patriotism from average Kashmiris. “Instead of playing to the gallery across the border, Congress must come to terms with the abrogation of Article 370. Jamuriyat was only in the hands of the ruling elite. Insaniyat died when instigators of violence sent their own kids abroad and gave stones to children of common folk,” tweeted Puri.

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