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Omar challenges Modi on Article 370

Srinagar, Dec 5 : Adding fuel to the controversy regarding Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday challenged Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to debate on the issue with him.


In a response to the Gujarat Chief Minister's call for a debate on Article 370, Abdullah said he was ready to discuss on the issue "anywhere, anytime."

Article 370 of the Constitution grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.

"If they want to debate with me on Article 370, they should tell me on which day, where and when they want to talk about it. Even if they call us to hold the debate in Ahmedabad, we are ready for the same anytime," the J&K CM said at public rally here.

He said Article 370 is a provision that connects Jammu and Kashmir to the rest of the country.

Earlier on Wednesday, Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said Article 370 could become an instrument of 'oppression and discrimination' against Indian citizens.

Jaitley said Article 370 has nothing to do with 'secularism'.

"Narendra Modi's speech at Jammu invited Omar Abdullah's response. After a long time, Article 370 is being seriously debated in this country. An ill-informed debate had earlier linked the issue of Article 370 to a secular v/s non-secular debate. Article 370 has nothing to do with Secularism. My own study on the subject has revealed a very interesting dimension as to how Article 370 can turn into an instrument of oppression and discrimination against Indian citizens," Jaitley said in a Facebook post.

"Article 370 is a special provision created only in relation to the State of Jammu & Kashmir. It is a temporary provision. It relates to the distribution of power between the Centre and the State. The Central List in relation to Jammu & Kashmir was a small one. Most powers vested in the State Legislature," he said.

Questioning provisions like Article 35A, Jaitley said: "Should a provision like Article 35A which exists only because of Article 370 have place in any civilized society? It is oppressive against citizens of India. It is discriminatory and violative of fundamental rights. Article 35A was inserted in 1954. On a bare reading, it violates the basic structure of the Constitution. I wonder if its constitutional validity will be challenged at some point of time."

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi triggered a political debate on Dec 1 by saying that there should be discussion on the issue of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said the discussion should have been held to assert whether the section is benefiting the people of Jammu and Kashmir or not.

Modi made the remarks while addressing a rally in Jammu on Sunday.

Reaction to his comment, Omar Abdullah earlier said the BJP was searching for a regional alliance partner in the state.

"I will wait and see what the BJP puts in its election manifesto," he told media.

"It obviously seems the BJP is looking for a regional alliance partner in the state," Abdullah had said.

--IBNS (Posted on 05-12-2013)

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