- Amit Shah today made a statement in the Lok Sabha on Article 370
- Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury fronted Congress charge against Amit Shah
- He said centre had thrown rules and regulations out of the window
A Congress leader's own-goal in parliament today on the government's big Jammu and Kashmir move has upset Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, sources say. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, deeply embarrassed his party by appearing to suggest that Jammu and Kashmir is not an internal matter.
Amit Shah, after pushing the measures in the Rajya Sabha, made a statement in the Lok Sabha on the decision to end Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 and to bifurcate the state into two union territories.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury demanded the government's position on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) while referring to a 1994 resolution by the Lok Sabha that the entire Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India. He said the government had thrown rules and regulations out of the window by proposing to create two union territories out of Jammu and Kashmir.
"I don't think you are thinking about PoK, you violated all rules and converted a state into a union territory overnight," Mr Chowdhury said.
The Home Minister told Mr Chowdhury not to make a "general statement". "I want to make it very clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inseparable part of India. There is absolutely no doubt over it, and there is no legal dispute on this," Amit Shah asserted.
The Congress leader then blundered into comments that he would find difficult to undo later.
"I have a doubt. Because you say that it is an internal matter. You have bifurcated a state. My point is, from 1948 Kashmir is being monitored by the UN, is that an internal matter? We signed the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration, was that an internal matter or bilateral? (Foreign Minister) S Jaishankar told his US Counterpart Mike Pompeo it is a bilateral issue, don't interfere. Can Jammu and Kashmir still be an internal matter after that? You should explain," Mr Chowdhury said.
At this point, Sonia Gandhi, seated right next to him, looked back at her son Rahul and appeared to gesture her shock. Rahul Gandhi was seen shaking his head slightly.
Amid chants of "shame" from the BJP benches, Mr Chowdhury said: "You are mistaken, you are mistaken. I want to be enlightened by you. It is a fundamental question. Don't misunderstand please. The entire Congress party wants to be enlightened by you." Sonia Gandhi, by now, looked mortified.
"You don't consider Jammu and Kashmir an integral part India? What are you saying? Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Whenever I say Jammu and Kashmir, PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) comes under it. I am being aggressive because you didn't think that PoK comes under Jammu and Kashmir. We can die for it," Amit Shah shouted back.
Chants of "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Vande Mataram" erupted from the government benches at that statement.
Sources say Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are angry with Mr Chowdhury because in a meeting of Congress lawmakers in the morning, the line to be taken was discussed in detail. The lawmaker's blunder had taken the discussion to an entirely different course and given Amit Shah a handle to attack the Congress with, leaders felt.
Rahul Gandhi has decided not to speak in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the Kashmir move.
Mr Chowdhury later clarified, saying he was misunderstood and quoted out of context.
"All I did was seek the government's clarification... this government is now making this an issue. If you go back and see what I said, you will see that I was the one who asked about PoK as well," he said.