The Congress today reiterated that it will not allow anybody to tinker with Article 370 and termed any such attempt as a direct attack on the constitution of India. The constitutional provision that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and is at the centre of a debate this election season. Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the BJPs announcement to scrap Article 370 in its election manifesto is fraught with serious consequences because it is this very constitutional provision which defines the relationship of state with the union of India.
"BJP says that they will remove Article 370. It's an attempt to temper with constitution of India. Only a dictator can temper with the constitution of India. BJP must understand that this provision of constitution has connected Kashmir with the rest of country and they should know the consequences if Article 370 is removed," said Mr Azad.
The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha said that Congress will not allow any such attempt to succeed. "I would like to assure people of Kashmir that as long as Congress is alive, we will not allow Article 370 to be taken out of constitution," said Mr Azad.
Mr Azad is the first senior leader of any national party who is campaigning in the troubled South Kashmir constituency where elections will be held in three phases. It is the first such instances in electoral history of India when polling for one parliament constituency will be held in three phases.
"This explains incapability of present government at the national level. Things have gone bad to worse under BJP rule in Kashmir," said Mr Azad. He said that as Chief Minister of the state, he had declared South Kashmir as terrorism-free in 2007. "Also when Omar Abdullah was Chief Minister till 2014, militancy was a thing of past," he said.
Mr Azad said that the BJP is trying to cause communal polarisation for votes and resorting to a divide-and-rule of policy. "It's exactly like what the British were doing. Dividing society and making people fight against each other," he said.
"Today's vote will be to oppose dictatorship and restore democracy. In last five years, the country is witnessing dictatorship," he added.
The first phase of polling for Anantnag in South Kashmir constituency will be on April 23 and third phase will be held on May 6. Results are due to be declared on May 23.