New Delhi: The Opposition parties, led by the Congress, plan to corner the government in the coming Winter Session of Parliament over the visit of European Union MPs to Kashmir.
Terming it as a “mockery of Indian democracy”, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma told this newspaper that the party would raise the issue in Parliament vociferously.
“The government embarked on an ill-advised PR exercise, sponsoring individuals with questionable credentials. EU MPs representing parties & ideologies in direct conflict with the mainstream. Diplomatic disaster which ended up internationalising what is essentially our internal issue,” he said.
“There was no need for the government to embarrass the country. By inviting a highly controversial group of European Union MPs, who do not represent the mainstream ideologies and political parties in their own countries, by denying your own parliamentarians privileges and rights, the government has insulted the Parliament of India,” Sharma said, adding that this was a national embarrassment and those responsible should be held accountable.
AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted that while the European Union MPs were allowed a tour of Kashmir, Indian leaders were sent back. This was a strange version of nationalism, she said.
The Winter Session will be held from November 18 to December 13.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, who held a protest at Jantar Mantar here on Tuesday along with some other Opposition parties, said the Congress has no objection to the European Union MPs’ delegation visiting Jammu and Kashmir. “What I object to is that MPs of this country are not being allowed to go to Jammu and Kashmir... It’s a conducted tour...”
On similar lines, the National Conference said in a statement, “The visit of selected EU MPs, largely of a particular ideology, is clearly a PR exercise. It is ironical that European MPs are visiting the Valley when the state’s leaders, including three former chief ministers, are incarcerated for nearly three months, and hundreds of others are in jails across the country”.
The CPI(M) politburo in a statement said it was an “affront” to the Indian Parliament and its sovereignty that Indian MPs and the political leaderships of national parties were denied the freedom of visiting the Valley while a “private visit” by foreign MPs was being allowed.
“Though it is claimed this is a private visit, the Prime Minister has met them and they are also being briefed by the national security adviser. There can be no special privilege for a group of foreign parliamentarians to visit the Valley while it is denied to others, including our own MPs and political leadership, with most political leaders of the state continuing to remain in custody and detention,” the statement added.
The CPI’s lone MP in the Rajya Sabha, Binoy Viswam, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday requesting that he be allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir since a foreign delegation was given a “red carpet” entry into the region.