February 2017 News
Venkaiah Naidu Slams Chidambaram For 'India Nearly Lost Kashmir' Remark India25 February 2017
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: Information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday trained his guns on former home minister P Chidambaram over his comments on the Kashmir situation, questioning the Congress party's stand on the strife-torn border state. Speaking at a function in Hyderabad on Friday, Chidambaram said he had a sinking feeling that India had nearly lost Kashmir due to the use of excessive force by the security forces to crush dissent there. Reacting to the Congress leader's comments, Naidu said, 'He knows about the fragile situation in Kashmir as he has also served as the home minister. It is wrong to make such statements and not in the best interest of the country.' Naidu's onslaught against the former minister indicates an escalating war of words between the BJP and the Congress at a time the two parties are locked in an electoral battle in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Chidambaram also said course correction was required to prevent the Kashmir situation from worsening. Condemning Chidambaram's statement, Naidu said, 'We want to ask the Congress party what is their stand on Kashmir?' Chidambaram also criticised army chief General Bipin Rawat's comments that those who hinder counter-insurgency operations or display flags of Pakistan and the Islamic State in Kashmir will be considered as 'anti-national'. The government backed Rawat saying the military had 'full freedom' to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations. Defending the army chief, Naidu asked, 'I mean, is it wrong what he (Rawat) said against the terrorists? And are the terrorists right?' Naidu also condemned National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah who on Friday attacked the Peoples Democratic Party for stitching up an alliance with the BJP, saying people would not tolerate it as late chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had promised the party would not ally with 'communal forces'. Dubbing Abdullah 'opportunist,' Naidu said he had changed his tone as he was no longer in power. 'You (Abdullah) joined hands with BJP and became chief minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime. So the BJP was secular when you joined hands with us and made you and your son the CM. Now Mufti and his daughter became CM then it (BJP) becomes communal,' the minister said. However, the Congress stood behind Chidambaram and Abdullah, accusing the Centre of turning a blind eye to the turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir. 'Farooq Abdullah knows the youth of Kashmir and he has highlighted the reality and what Chidambaram had said is also right,' Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said.