J&K Bill Atrocious: Advani
12 March 2004
Coimbatore: The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, today described the Permanent Resident Status (Disqualification) Bill, 2004 moved in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly as 'atrocious, and anti-women.' 'It will have repercussions not only within that State but also across the country. I do not subscribe to that (the Bill),' he told a press conference before continuing his road show, 'Bharat Uday Yatra.' Asked whether the Bill gave cause for the Bharatiya Janata Party to step up its demand for abrogation of Article 370 (which provides a special status to Jammu and Kashmir), Mr. Advani said: 'This is an important issue. We, and the people, have to think on it.' However, he said, that ever since the National Democratic Alliance Government was formed, it had striven for devolution of powers to the States. 'We have never thought of doing away with the powers of the States. We are for implementing the Sarkaria Commission report on Centre-State relations with the support of all the States, including Jammu and Kashmir and those ruled by the Left parties.' Mr. Advani denied that he had criticised Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra campaigning for the Congress and said they had every right to campaign. 'I am only against dynastic rule or succession.' On the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi's Italian origin, he said it was an issue among the people nationwide. Reacting to the title of the Congress 'chargesheet' against the Vajpayee Government, 'A saga of sin, scams and shame,' he said 'alliteration does not make an argument.' As he did at the public meeting here on Thursday, Mr. Advani recalled during the press briefing the serial blasts in this city on February 14, 1998 (the day on which he was scheduled to address an election meeting). 'Even today I did mourn the innocent people who were killed in the explosions.' In his last six years at the Union Home Ministry, it had always been the endeavour of the NDA Government to deal firmly with terrorism. 'Cross-border terrorism and also [terrorism] from within the country have been a major problem. As it is a threat to democracy, the Government made efforts to make all democracies in the world realise it. We have treaties with more than a dozen countries to jointly act against terrorism and also formed joint working groups with almost every democracy.' 'India is the major sufferer and the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had warned that distance would not deter terrorism. His words proved prophetic with the terrorist attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001,' he said. Listing the NDA Government's achievements, Mr. Advani said 2003 saw a record flow of tourists in Kashmir. Laying down of arms by the Bodo militants and the headway made in talks with the Naga rebels were such achievements. India had been sincere in its endeavour to improve relations with Pakistan. 'We are happy with the unambiguous statement by Pakistan that it will not allow any terrorist activity on its soil against India,' he said.