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Chidambaram says Modi govt ‘exacerabted’ Kashmir crisis, Congress says views are personal

New Delhi: Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his top ministerial colleagues of “exacerbating” the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress leader P Chidambaram today said the state was “sliding into total chaos” and asked the ruling PDP to join hands with the opposition to find a way to end the violence. “I am concerned that situation in Jammu and Kashmir is sliding into total chaos. The PDP-BJP government is squarely responsible for the sharp deterioration in the last 6 weeks.

“The statements of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister have exacerbated the crisis. Moderation in words and actions alone can retrieve the situation,” he said. Chidambaram, during whose tenure as Home Minister several confidence building measures, including reducing the presence of security forces in the Valley were initiated, surprisingly extended a welcoming hand to BJP’s coalition partner in the troubled state PDP to join forces with the opposition to find a solution to the unrest there.

“The Congress, National Conference and, if willing, the PDP must come together to find a solution: firstly, an immediate solution to stop the violence and, then, a path forward that will bring hope, peace and prosperity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said in a statement.

The Congress, however, described Chidambaram’s statement as his “personal and individual view”.

“A person is free to write and speak, so long as he is expressing a personal opinion – a hope, a wish, a desire and not going against any established party opinion,” he said.

“Today, he has expressed his opinion. We have also said that unless we have the mandate, we have not meddled in Kashmir affairs. Tomorrow, we will have the mandate, who knows, we will go and rule Kashmir and we will show a better ruling than you are showing today,” party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters at an AICC briefing.

While talking about the disconnect between the two ruling coalition partners in Jammu and Kashmir, Singhvi said,” We can’t have a coalition which does not talk to each other. When something happens, the BJP locally attacks it (PDP), the central government attacks it and then they go and sleep together in a coalition government.

“Therefore, that is the real issue today. Tomorrow what happens is not for us to say. There is no such talk, there is no such policy, there is no such election. Somebody has expressed a hope and that is his personal view,” he said.

In his statement, Chidambaram said the loss of lives– of protesting youth, other civilians and security forces– has devastated all and it must stop.”I am afraid the way out of the crisis cannot be found by the present government,” he said.

Normal life in Kashmir Valley has been affected by violent protests over the last 40 days since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8. So far the unrest has claimed the lives of 63 people. A candid Chidambaram has been expressing concern over the situation in the state and had even admitted that successive governments in Srinagar and New Delhi had “mishandled” it.

“We (UPA government) did mishandle. But we corrected ourselves in 2010. Now, both the governments in Delhi and Srinagar mishandled (it) very, very badly,” he had said recently.

The former Union minister had suggested a radical solution to the Kashmir problem by advocating restoration of the “grand bargain” under which Kashmir had acceded to India by granting a large degree of autonomy.

“I think their approach is wrong. We have ignored the grand bargain under which Kashmir acceded to India. I think we broke faith, we broke promises and as a result we have paid a heavy price,” he had said.

Congress distances itself from PC’s remarks

Congress distanced itself from the remarks made by its senior leader P Chidambaram on Kashmir, terming them as “personal and individual views” even as the party highlighted the “contradictions” in the PDP-BJP government in the state.

“Obviously, unless any party line is announced, it is his individual view. But an individual view is not to be seen the way you are seeing it…Somebody has expressed a hope and that is his personal view,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said here.

At the AICC briefing, he said, “A person is free to write and speak, so long as he is expressing a personal opinion — a hope, a wish, a desire and not going against any established party opinion.”

Singhvi said the point is there is no contradiction in what the party is saying and what is Chidambaram’s desire and the real issue is that the arrangement between PDP and BJP for the last two years is “ridden with contradictions”.

“Today, he (Chidambaram) has expressed his opinion. We have also said that unless we have the mandate, we will not meddle in Kashmir affairs. Tomorrow, we may have the mandate who knows, we will go and govern Kashmir and we will show better governance than what is there today,” he said.

Highlighting the “differences” within the ruling PDP-BJP combine in the state, the Congress leader said, “One cannot have a situation in India where there will be one government in Jammu and another government in Kashmir.

“We can’t have a coalition which does not talk to each other. When something happens, BJP locally attacks it, the central government attacks it and then they go and sleep together in a coalition government,” he said.

Singhvi said, “Therefore, that is the real issue today.

Tomorrow what happens is not for us to say. There is no such talk, there is no such policy, there is no such election.”

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