New Delhi: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took up Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik’s bait of sending a helicopter for him to visit the Valley, but said he didn’t need an aircraft, just the freedom for him along with other Opposition leaders to be allowed to travel unimpeded across the Valley
The Congress also asked the government to immediately begin a political dialogue and take all Opposition parties into confidence on what was happening in the region.
Mr Malik had on Monday invited Mr Gandhi to visit J&K, saying he would send an aircraft for him, after the Congress leader said: “People were dying in the Valley and the situation is not normal, as the government claims.”
The Wayanad MP, now on a visit to his constituency, was quick to respond Tuesday, tweeting: “Dear Governor Malik: A delegation of Opposition leaders & I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit J&K and Ladakh. We won’t need an aircraft but please ensure us the freedom to travel and meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed over there.”
In New Delhi, Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said, “The reaction by the governor only to Rahul Gandhi is not enough. Mr Gandhi does not need his hospitality. All Opposition parties should be asked to go to Kashmir.”
“We demand that the government take the first step and start an immediate political dialogue in which all the Opposition parties should be taken into confidence,” he said, adding for this it was also important that leaders and former chief ministers now in detention are released.
Mr Sharma said that it was high-time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah call an all-party meeting and take all the Opposition leaders into confidence.
Meanwhile, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was on a visit to Sonebhadra in UP where 10 dalits were gunned down recently, said the abrogation of Article 370 had been done in an unconstitutional manner. “The way in which it was done is totally unconstitutional and against the principles of democracy,” she told the media.
The other Opposition parties were not too enthused. Said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury: “If the governor is sending a plane for Rahul Gandhi now, why did he stop us entering Srinagar when we went there?”
Meanwhile, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday said that the Congress is speaking in different voices on the special status of J&K because of its “frustration, despair and directionless politics”, .
The minister also accused Congress leader P. Chidambaram of communalising the issue and said people of J&K were happy with the decision to revoke the state's special status under Article 370.
“This is Congress' frustration, despair and directionless politics. Karan Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora, R. P. N. Singh and other leaders are talking one thing and Chidambaram, Mani Shankar Aiyar saying another thing. The party is in perennial confusion. They never had a clear stand,” Javadekar told reporters
Also, a lunch meeting between a central government officer and a section of Kashmiri students scheduled at the Jamia Millia Islamia was cancelled, a university official said on Tuesday....