After Modi’s call for debate, BJP says no ‘softening of stand’ on Article 370
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A day after its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi called for a debate on Article 370, the BJP on Monday denied any "softening" of its stand that the provision should be scrapped. "It would be incorrect for anyone to interpret BJP's challenge for a debate on this issue as a softening of stand on Article 370," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley posted on his Facebook account.
"Jammu & Kashmir's integration with India is an essential part of the ideology of Bharatiya Jana Sangh and now the BJP. The BJP believes that Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's vision of complete integration of Jammu & Kashmir was the correct vision for India," he added.
"Modi has just asked if there has been any benefit from Art 370. This is not being soft on the issue," said Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, claiming that the call for a debate was not different from the party's earlier position.
In a veiled course correction, Modi too sought to suggest that his remarks were only aimed at starting a discussion on the subject. "Glad that after my call for a debate on Article 370, it is being widely debated among people & across TV, social media," tweeted Modi. "We need rational & focused debate not only on 370 but other issues relating to J&K, including suffering of sections of J&K society".
The RSS also sought to suggest that Modi's remarks did not amount to any softening of stand. "370 debate deliberate distortion... 370 is a hurdle to national integration," tweeted RSS leader Ram Madhav. The RSS, however, refrained from issuing any official statement on the issue. "Sangh's position remains as it was. Article 370 must be removed to pave the way for complete integration of J&K with Bharat," said a senior Sangh leader.
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