In a raging controversy over British Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeting about a "very productive meeting" with a Congress delegation and discussions on Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah today targeted Rahul Gandhi while campaigning in Maharashtra. Overseas Congress chief Kamal Dhaliwal, who led the delegation, is said to be close to the former Congress president.
"Kamal Dhaliwal - Overseas Congress Chief, close to Rahul Gandhi, met Jeremy Corbyn and said the situation is not normal in Kashmir. I want to ask Rahul Gandhi, what does your party want to do by discussing matters of country with foreign leaders," Amit Shah, who is also BJP president, said at a rally ahead of the October 21 election in the state.
Mr Shah also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told US President Donald Trump that Kashmir was India's internal matter and it would brook no interference. "This has been our consistent stand for years that we will not tolerate any kind of interference in Kashmir. If any country tried to speak on Kashmir, we said that it is our internal matter, be it American President or anyone else. PM Modi said clearly that Kashmir is our internal matter and you need not interfere," he said, praising the Prime Minister for "showing the courage" to take a decision like ending special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.
The BJP yesterday called the meeting "appalling" and demanding an explanation for what it called "shameful shenanigans".
The row erupted when the Labour Party leader tweeted a photo with the Congress delegation and wrote: "A very productive meeting with UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party where we discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir. There must be a de-escalation and an end to the cycle of violence and fear which has plagued the region for so long."
Prominent in the photo is Kamal Dhaliwal, the chief of the Congress UK wing. In photos that emerged in the middle of the uproar, Rahul Gandhi is seen feeding him cake.
The Congress rubbished Corbyn's claim.
"We are shocked by this misrepresentation. Any issue pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir are purely India's internal affairs," Congress leader Anand Sharma said.
"We disown any such claim in entirety. I am conveying this to the leadership of the Labour Party and to Barry Gardener, who heads the foreign affairs department of Labour Party to convey this to Jeremy Corbyn," he asserted.
The UK Congress wing also put out a clarification. "Our meeting with Jeremy Corbyn was held to condemn the Kashmir resolution passed by his party and to reiterate that J&K is an internal matter and outside intervention will not be accepted. BJP's malicious statements are another attempt to distract people from their failures," the Indian Overseas Congress tweeted.
The Labour Party has been a critic of the government's Kashmir move. Corbyn has been under pressure from the Indian diaspora in Britain - specifically Labour Friends of India, the representative diaspora group of the Labour Party -- over the party's resolution against the Kashmir decision at its conference last month.