Cong questions Home minister on Kashmir visit

New Delhi: The Congress today questioned Home Minister Rajnath Singh for raising the issue of Article 35A during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir and said it was not the right time to bring it up for the state was in a “very delicate” situation. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi also criticised the government for trying to “score points” over the opposition by organising the minister’s visit when a delegation led by former prime minister Manmohan Singh was also in the state in a bid to find ways of bringing peace to the troubled region. “At the moment, Kashmir is in a very delicate situation. I do not understand and know whether it is the right time to even talk about it (Article 35A), leave aside the merits of the issue,” he told reporters here. Singhvi said the home minister was an important functionary and he would refrain from saying anything personal about him. “But I am reminded of (jurist) Nani Palkhivala, who once said that when your house is on fire, you don’t discuss whether you should convert your bedroom into a drawing room or the dining room into a kitchen. You first deal with the fire,” he said.
The Congress leader said Kashmir in the last three years under the BJP had achieved the worst figures on four parameters – civilian causalities, cross-border incidents, army deaths and terrorist incidents.
He said Kashmir was “never an easy situation” but the situation had worsened.
“In that scenario, if the home minister can find a solution, we would go out of our way to laud it,” he said, but wondered if the efforts made over 35 years to find a solution to the crisis would be a part of it.
“Is it going to create any consensus and any conversions or is it going to create huge divergences when the state government and the Central government are not in sync with each other,” he asked.
Singhvi alleged that within the state government there appeared to be two governments — one in Jammu and another in Srinagar. Within the Central government and the state government, “there is absolutely no co-ordination”, he said.
On the home minister’s visit coinciding with that of the opposition team, he said, “We will be the happiest if you wish to score a point over us, by choosing the same day for a visit that we had announced two weeks ago. But if you score a point over us, score a point for the nation”.
On the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution, which bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to acquire immovable property in the state, Rajnath Singh, who started his visit to Jammu and Kashmir yesterday, said the Centre had neither initiated any action nor gone to court in this regard.
To a question on the removal of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Singhvi said all issues relating to the state had recently been discussed with party vice president Rahul Gandhi.
“Most of them have not only been analysed, but settled,” he said. (Agencies)