- "...another constitution of J&K an aberration," says Ajit Doval
- National Conference leader demanded centre take note of comment
- "...Doval is speaking this on behest of government": Mustafa Kamal
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has landed in controversy with his remark that Jammu and Kashmir's separate constitution is an "aberration" as sovereignty "cannot be diluted and ill-defined". In the backdrop of the challenge to the Article 35A -- which grants special rights and privileges to the state -- in Supreme Court, livid lawmakers from the state questioned if his comments have the backing of the Centre.
Speaking at the launch of a book on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel yesterday, Mr Doval had said his contribution was not about the merger of the states, "it is only a means to an end".
"The thing was that, to make a sovereign state in which there was the sovereignty of the people, was established in the Constitution, which is applicable to the whole of it. Probably with Jammu and Kashmir, where the Constitution was... in a truncated form... another constitution of J&K continued to exist, which is an aberration," news agency Press Trust of India quoted Mr Doval as saying.
Asked what he meant by "means to an end", Mr Doval told NDTV, "560 states which had different laws were merged with India and had one constitution. Merger was means to an end and not an end by itself."
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the one to ensure that the myriad princely states at the time of Independence merged under one Constitution and one flag. Kashmir, which was ruled then by Maharaja Hari Singh, had refused.
In Srinagar, National Conference leader Mustafa Kamal demanded that the government take note of Mr Doval's comments. "If the government does not take notice, it will be proved that Doval is saying this at the behest of the government," he said, adding, "Delhi has divided India".
Rafi Ahmad Mir, leader of People's Democratic Party, which till recently was a BJP ally, said, "I think for a person in such a responsible position, Ajit Doval's statement is irresponsible... Statements like this are altering the mindsets of the general public about Kashmir."
The repeal of Article 370 is part of the BJP's core ideology and the party had admitted that they would work towards it once they have the necessary numbers in parliament. Repealing the Article means amending the constitution which needs the support of two-thirds of the lawmakers in both houses of parliament.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition challenging the validity of the Article 35A. Last week the hearing was adjourned till January.