Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s ‘bilateral’ query in Kashmir debate leaves Congress red faced
Two senior Congress leaders left many scratching their heads on Tuesday with their comments in the Lok Sabha leading to outrage and a lot of confusion as the Lower House discussed government’s resolution to scrap Article 370 on Jammu and Kashmir.
The Lok Sabha is debating the BJP-led government’s resolution to scrap Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, a day after the Rajya Sabha passed both.
The Congress’ floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked the government whether Kashmir is an internal matter. India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.
“I’m confused, you say it’s an internal matter. You’ve bifurcated a state but I’m saying, since 1948 as the United Nations is monitoring, is that an internal matter? The Shimla Agreement, the Lahore one, were they internal matters or bilateral? Some days ago, (external affairs minister) Jaishankar ji told (US secretary of state Mike) Pompeo ji that this is a bilateral matter and please do not interfere,” Chowdhury said as the treasury benches erupted in protests.
“So after that also, can Jammu and Kashmir be an internal matter? These are all different takes on the matter,” Chowdhury said.
Watch: Congress red-faced after Adhir Ranjan says article 370 not internal issue
This led Union home minister Amit Shah to declare that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India as he shot back asking for Congress’ stance on the matter.
In reply, Chowdhury said, “You have gone against the rules enshrined in the Constitution overnight. You are not thinking about PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir), you violated all rules and converted a state into a Union Territory overnight,” Chowdhury said.
Shah then said that PoK and Akshai Chin were both parts of India. “Jaan de denge iske liye (I will give up my life for it),” Shah said.
Another party leader Manish Tewari made a reference to EL James’s erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Manish Tewari’s comments came after Amit Shah countered him by asking him to clarify Congress’ stand on the issue.
“I just want a little bit of clarity from Manishji. He didn’t say whether Congress supports the abrogation of Article 370 or not. Please make this clear,” Shah said.
To this, Tewari replied, “Angrezi ki ek kitaab hai... har cheez kaali ya safed nahi hoti. (There is a book in English... everything is not black or white). There are 50 shades of grey in between.”
The Congress has failed to put up a united front against the government’s move to scrap Article 370 with some leaders of the grand old party divided on the issue. Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal opposed the move in the Rajya Sabha but discordant voices outside embarrassed the party, which has been in a disarray for more than two months over the leadership crisis.
The Central Working Committee of the party is meeting on Tuesday evening to firm up its stand on the matter.