After Modi's remarks on Article 370, Cong, others say no chance of review

Narendra ModiModi said that women had not been given equal rights in J&K unlike in other parts of the country. (AP)

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's remarks on Article 370 of the Constitution triggered a debate on Monday with the Congress and parties in Jammu and Kashmir rejecting any review of the provision, while the BJP dismissed any suggestions that it has softened its stand on the issue.

Modi's other remark that women of Jammu and Kashmir don't enjoy equal rights as they lose their rights of inheritance if they marry outside the state was also rebutted by mainstream parties in the state.

Addressing a rally in Jammu on Sunday, Modi had called for a debate on whether Article 370 has been beneficial to the state or not. This marked a change from the BJP's earlier stand that the provision should be completed abrogated.

But BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj said it would be incorrect to interpret Modi's demand for a debate as a "softening" of the party's stand on Article 370.

"We need rational & focused debate not only on 370 but other issues relating to J&K, including suffering of sections of J&K society," Modi tweeted on Monday. "Glad that after my call for a debate on Article 370, it is being widely debated among people & across TV, social media."

But the mainstream parties in J&K, including the National Conference, PDP and CPI(M), attacked Modi for raking up "divisive" issues and said Article 370 cannot be amended because of its "permanent" nature.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Modi was confusing Article 370, which provides special status to J&K, with the state's residency law. "My problem is with people like Modi, who knowingly or unknowingly... seek to sort of join Article 370 with our state subject laws," he said.

"Article 370 determines the relation between the Centre and the state. It is the bridge that joins Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. Our state subject laws are our own. The state subject law as it exists now is not even a post-independence product. It is a pre-independence product," he said.

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