New Delhi: Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh on Tuesday stirred up a controversy after declaring that the new government has started the process for repealing Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. He later said he was misquoted by the media.
MoS in the PMO Jitendra Singh
"The process of repealing article 370 has started. We are speaking to the stakeholders," Jitendra Singh told TV news channel CNN-IBN.
"The BJP has won more than half of the seats in Jammu and Kashmir. So we will interpret this as an endorsement of the BJP's stand. Article 370 is more like a psychological barrier," he said.
However, later in the evening, the minister issued a clarification.
"I seek to clarify that the reports in the media about my statement on article 370 are misquoted. I have never said anything quoting the prime minister. The controversy is totally baseless."
The Bharatiya Janata Party won three of the six Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Singh's colleague and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, refused to make any detailed comment of the issue and said the government will take a "structured view" on the issue.
Repealing Article 370 after consultation with all stakeholders was one of the promises made by the BJP in its election manifesto.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, meanwhile, said the state will not be a part of India if Article 370 is repealed.
"So the new MOS PMO says process/discussions to revoke article 370 have started. Wow, that was a quick beginning. Not sure who is talking," Abdullah said in a tweet.
"Mark my words and save this tweet - long after Modi government is a distant memory either J&K won't be part of India or article 370 will still exist," he said.
"Article 370 is the only constitutional link between J&K and rest of India. Talk of revocation not just ill informed it's irresponsible," the chief minister added.
Article 370 specifies that except for defence, foreign affairs, communications and ancillary matters (matters specified in the instrument of accession), the Indian parliament needs the state government's concurrence for applying all other laws.