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3:11 pm - Friday November 22, 7974

PM Modi flays Cong, lashes out at Chidambaram on Kashmir remarks

Agencies, New Delhi/Bengaluru

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought an explanation from Congress and joined issue with senior Congress leader P Chidambaram and termed his statement on Kashmir ‘azadi’ “shameful” and asserted that his government will not make any compromise on country’s unity.

While the Congress has been left embarrassed, for his part, Mr Chidambaram on defensive said he is not being understood properly. “We will not make any compromise on the country’s unity and integrity. Nor will we allow anyone to do so,” the Prime Minister said at a rally in Bengaluru alluding to former Union Home Minister’s remarks wherein he suggested that the militancy-hit northern state should be given more autonomy.

The Congress party on Saturday night had dissociated itself from Mr Chidambaram’s views and dismissed the same as an opinion of an “individual”. “All of a sudden, those who were in power till yesterday have taken a U-turn. Shamelessly, they are making a statement and are lending their voice for Kashmir’s ‘azadi’,” said Mr Modi.

He said it was a reprehensible attempt by the Congress to support those calling for ‘azadi’ in Kashmir. Such remarks were nothing but “insult” to Indian armed forces, Mr Modi said but did not name Mr Chidambaram. Later in the day, Mr Chidambaram said the Prime Minister was only “imagining a ghost and attacking it”.

“Those who criticise must read the whole answer and tell me which word in the answer was wrong,” Mr Chidambaram said defending his remarks in Rajkot on Saturday. “My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for ‘azadi’, most people – I am not saying all – (an) overwhelming majority want autonomy,” he said.

In a statement, Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala has said on Saturday: “Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh is an integral part of Indian Union and will always remain so unquestionably… (The) opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the Indian National Congress. In our democracy, individuals are entitled to opinions”.

In his address at Bengaluru, Mr Modi said, “The country’s soldiers have sacrificed their lives every moment for the sake of security of the motherland and innocent citizens of Kashmir. “I want to ask the people of Bengaluru, can the country benefit from such people who are playing politics on the sacrifice of our soldiers? They don’t have any shame in saying this. The Congress party will have to give an answer for this (Chidambaram’s) statement…,” he said.

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