Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said his party wanted full statehood to be restored at the earliest and assembly elections in the union territory. Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress’ stand on Article 370 of the Constitution is the same as declared by the Congress Working Committee in August 2019 after the BJP-led central government abrogated this constitutional provision. Two days after the Centre’s move, the Congress Working Committee condemned the unilateral and totally undemocratic manner in which provisions of Article 370 were abrogated and the state of Jammu and Kashmir divided into two Union Territories went. The Bharat Jodo Yatra being led by Rahul Gandhi is in its last phase in Jammu and Kashmir. It started from Kanyakumari on September 7 last year.
On Democratic Azad Party President Ghulam Nabi Azad not being invited to join the Yatra and former minister Lal Singh not being given a chair to sit on the dais to mark the yatra’s entry into Jammu and Kashmir, Rahul said, Singh has supported the yatra and we respect his sentiment. The people of Azad’s party were on our stage. 90 percent of them are already in Congress. I think only Ghulam Nabi Azad is left on that side.” He said, “I respect Ghulam Nabi Azad ji and I am not concerned about hurting the sentiments of Lal Singh ji or Ghulam Nabi Azad ji in any way. I apologise.” Referring to the various delegations that met him during the padyatra, Rahul said the displaced Kashmiri Pandits categorically told him that they were being used politically and asked him to raise their issue in Parliament.
He said, “Kashmiri Pandits told me that the BJP is using them as a political weapon and forcibly sending them to Kashmir, where they are facing the threat of assassination. He said that whatever good happened to him happened during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. He said, “We love and respect all of you and realize that Jammu and Kashmir is going through a difficult time. BJP has created a rift which is harming both (Kashmir and Jammu regions) and this rift needs to be bridged. We want to open lakhs of love shops in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rahul told reporters, “We have come to listen and understand the people, their suffering. The youth are talking about unemployment. They do not see any future, there is no industry and the farmer is not getting any help. Nothing has been achieved through hatred or violence, he said. Status should be restored and assembly elections are wanted. Asked whether he was satisfied with the security arrangements made in Jammu and Kashmir for the yatra, Rahul said, “It is the responsibility of the government to protect the yatris and I hope they will do the job well, which they are supposed to do.”
Rahul also met a 65-member delegation from the Union Territory of Ladakh here and held talks with them on a number of issues, including full statehood for the region. The delegation also raised the issue of protection available to Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Former minister Nawang Rigzin Jora, who was part of the delegation, said after meeting Rahul in Jhajjar Kotli, “We have raised four issues before Rahul Gandhi. These include the protection given to the area under the Sixth Schedule. Jora said that the delegation also informed him about the situation along the Line of Actual Control with China.