Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India "as one State" and no government has the power to change its status or divide it or reduce any part of it to a Union Territory, the Congress said on Tuesday after a meeting of its Working Committee, the party's top decision making body.
At the meeting, held to focus on the stance regarding the government's move to end special status in Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories, the party also said it "deplores the unilateral, brazen and totally undemocratic manner" of the move.
In a resolution after the lengthy meeting, the Congress said: "Jammu & Kashmir acceded to India as one State and no government has the power to change its status or divide it or reduce any part of it to a Union Territory".
Article 370, the resolution said, "deserved to be honoured until it was amended, after consultation with all sections of the people, and strictly in accordance with the Constitution of India".
Most leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitendra Hooda, made the point that a perception is growing that the party is weak on nationalism as the entire nation is backing the removal of Article 370. After a four-hour meeting, they, however, agreed that the manner in which it was done was not correct.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra intervened to say categorically that the party's ideology and what it stood for, should not be compromised even if there was such a perception.
The party agreed that this was a temporary provision, which had been put by the founding fathers and were in agreement that it needed to be removed, but not without a consultation process.
To those approving the government's move, senior leaders like Kumari Selja questioned why none of them raised such a demand over the last five years. The Congress shouldn't change its position or philosophy suddenly, she said.
Still struggling with the leadership issue, the Congress needed to get its leaders on the same page after a section of them declared their support for the government's move, veering far from the party's stand.
Despite indications about the government's massive move -- an unprecedented security build-up in Jammu and Kashmir and the house arrest of its mainstream political leaders -- the party appeared to be caught off guard by Amit Shah's announcement on special status and the bills tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
While its chief whip in Lok Sabha, Bhubaneswar Kalita, quit in protest against the party's stance, saying it was against the public mood, its senior leader Janardhan Dwivedi said the government has remedied a "historic blunder".
This evening, Jyotiraditya Scindia, one of the closest aides of Rahul Gandhi, also declared support for the government's move.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted about Kashmir on Tuesday -- more than 24 hours after the government's announcement. He also decided not to speak in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the Kashmir move.
But during the debate, both he and Sonia Gandhi were upset when Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury -- tasked with leading the party in Lok Sabha -- left it deeply embarrassed by his remarks that appeared to suggest that Jammu and Kashmir is not India's internal matter.
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