Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday tore into the Congress over its leader P Chidambaram’s remarks on autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, which he said, was an “insult to our soldiers” and lends voice to separatist forces in the state.
Addressing Bharatiya Janata Party workers here, Modi accused the Congress of playing politics over the sacrifices of soldiers and asked the party to answer for Chidambaram’s comments. He also linked the remark to last year’s surgical strikes against terror launch pads in Pakistan.
“Thousands of soldiers have sacrificed their lives for Kashmir. They have been making sacrifices for protecting the motherland, to protect the innocent residents of Kashmir. There is no state in the country from where brave soldiers have not laid down their lives for Kashmir. And suddenly, those who were in power till yesterday are taking a U-turn today,” Modi said.
“They are lending their voice to those demanding `azadi’ (freedom). I want to ask the residents of Bengaluru, can such people, who play politics on the sacrifices of the brave soldiers, do good for the country... And they are not feeling ashamed in saying this. The Congress Party will have to give an answer for this remark,” Modi said.
The prime minister said the mothers, sisters and children of those who laid down their lives were seeking an answer from the Congress.
“Should the Congress use the language shamelessly which is used by the separatists in Kashmir,” Modi asked, adding that the language was also used by sympathisers of Pakistan.
“This is the land of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and we will not allow any compromise with the unity and integrity of the country.”
Referring to the surgical strikes, Modi said Indian soldiers gave a befitting reply to Pakistan for sending terrorists to India.
“The whole country was proud. The Congress could not digest this. Now after listening to the remarks of the Congress leader yesterday, I can imagine why they were unhappy with the surgical strikes,” Modi said.
“It seemed that after repeated defeats some intellectual people in the party would put the Congress back on the right path. But now it looks like the Congress does not want to learn from its mistakes. People usually learn from their mistakes,” Modi said at the BJP rally outside the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Airport in the city.
Speaking at an event in Rajkote on Saturday, Chidambaram said when people in Kashmir ask for “azadi” most of them want greater autonomy and “I think we should seriously examine that question and consider on what areas we can give autonomy to” the state.
“It is very much within the Constitution. Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India with some amount of autonomy,” the former finance minister said.
The Congress, however, distanced itself from Chidambaram’s remark and said while individuals may have different personal opinions, the solution for lasting peace and prosperity in Kashmir lies solely within the framework of the Constitution.
l Modi dedicated the 110km railway track from Bidar to Kalaburgi in Karnataka, which will reduce the distance from Bengaluru to New Delhi and upcountry destinations by 380km and save six-eight hours of travelling time.
The prime minister also flagged off the first train on the new line from Bidar station to Kalaburgi in the presence of Railway Minister Piyush Goel, Governor Vajubhai R Vala, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and federal ministers from the state Ananth Kumar and Sadananda Gowda.
The diesel-electric multiple train (DEMU) local service will cover the 110km between Bidar and Kalaburgi in two hours with brief halts at 12 stations en route.
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