No political party in India can ever afford to restore Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Union minister Jitendra Singh on Friday said as he alleged that the bogey of autonomy or self-rule is raised by certain opposition leaders only when they are out of power.
Taking a strong exception to utterances by some of the leaders of "so-called" mainstream Kashmir-centric political parties like the PDP and the National Conference, he said unsubstantiated assertions made by these leaders are only motivated by a desperate attempt to hold back the ground which is fast slipping from under their feet.
"No political party in India can ever afford to restore back Article 370 and the unsubstantiated assertions made by these leaders are only motivated by a desperate attempt to hold back the ground which is fast slipping from under their feet," Mr Singh told PTI.
He also dared the Congress to make its stand clear on the issue, saying if it has the courage and conviction, it should go for the ensuing District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir with the slogan that it will restore Article 370 if voted to power at the Centre.
Mr Singh, the Minister of State for Personnel, alleged that the bogey of autonomy or self-rule is raised by the leaders of National Conference and other Jammu and Kashmir-based political parties only when they are out of power.
He said the leadership of National Conference must explain to the people of Jammu and Kashmir why Farooq Abdullah did not find it appropriate to resign as chief minister when the autonomy resolution put forward by his government in the erstwhile state of J&K was summarily rejected by the then Vajpayee government at the Centre.
"Not only this, his son also continued as a junior minister in the Vajpayee government," Mr Singh said.
"Let us not forget that the decision to abrogate Article 370 was passed by the Parliament which also has members representing National Conference and PDP," he said.
"If indeed, they are sincerely against the decision taken by the Parliament, why do they not, for the sake of minimum propriety, resign from their seats in Parliament so that the people may trust them for what they are saying," he asked.
Accusing the political parties of Kashmir and their leaders of "having their cake and eating it too", Singh said this craft of double-speak and change of stance overnight for political expediency is now meeting with the fate of diminishing returns.
He said three generations down the line, common masses are now wary of this jugglery and are not ready to be hoodwinked any longer.