New Delhi: Pakistan’s decision to reportedly mention former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s name in a petition on Kashmir filed before the United Nations has resulted in a political slugfest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main Opposition.
Despite Congress’ claims that Pakistan was “mischievously dragging" the name of Gandhi on the Kashmir issue to justify its “pack of lies and deliberate misinformation", both sides accused each other of politicizing the issue.
Clarifying on the party’s stand, Gandhi said that Kashmir was India’s internal issue and there was no room for Pakistan or any other country to intervene in it.
“I disagree with this government on many issues. But, let me make this absolutely clear: Kashmir is India’s internal issue and there is no room for Pakistan or any other foreign country to interfere in it," Gandhi said in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
“There is violence in Jammu & Kashmir. There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan, which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world," he added. Gandhi’s comments came days after an Opposition delegation led by him attempted to visit Srinagar, but were asked to return from the airport over security concerns.
The BJP has accused the Congress and other Opposition parties of “politicizing" the Kashmir issue and issuing “irresponsible" statements, while the Opposition has attacked the Union government over the detention of political leaders, and for not allowing them to visit the region.
“Rahul Gandhi and Congress party must apologize for the statement. It is shameful because Pakistan has used the statements of Rahul Gandhi as an evidence in United Nations. This is nothing more than vote bank politics. Rahul Gandhi’s statements do not show the correct picture of Jammu and Kashmir. This is irresponsible politics ever to be witnessed by the country," Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, adding that Gandhi had to change his statement on Jammu and Kashmir because of the pressure from people.
“Why did Rahul Gandhi go to Kashmir? What was the need? It was to incite violence. Rahul Gandhi changed his statement because he was under pressure from the people. How can Rahul Gandhi’s views change just because he now represents Wayanad?" he said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after Parliament gave its assent for abrogating Articles 370 and 35A, which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and the decision to reorganize the state into two Union territories—Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Since the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August, the issue has become a flashpoint between the BJP and the Congress. The political tussle further aggravated when a delegation of Opposition parties led by Gandhi went to Srinagar, but was denied entry. The Opposition has also been demanding the release of leaders of the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who have been under detention for nearly three weeks.
“Let no one be in doubt that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and shall always remain an integral part of India. No amount of diabolical deception by Pakistan shall change this irrevocable truth," said a statement issued by Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
“Congress has noticed reports citing an alleged petition moved by Pakistani government to United Nations on Jammu and Kashmir, wherein name of Rahul Gandhi has been mischievously dragged to justify the pack of lies and deliberate misinformation being spread by Pakistan," the statement added.