Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh hastily clarified his remark on Article 370 on Tuesday, after coming in for heavy criticism from Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah, the PDP's Mehbooba Mufti, JD (U) and other parties.
Jitendra Singh tried to downplay the controversy by saying that he had been 'misquoted' and that the controversy was 'baseless.'
The Press Information Bureau website of the Government of India quoted Singh as saying that "I seek to clarify that the reports in the media about my statement on Article 370 are misquoted. I have never said anything quoting the Honourable Prime Minister. The controversy is totally baseless."
"I seek to clarify that the reports in the media about my statement on Article 370 are misquoted. I have never said anything quoting the Honourable Prime Minister. The controversy is totally baseless," he said in a statement tonight. Essentially, he tried to absolve Narendra Modi of responsibility for the remark.
Jitendra Singh had said earlier on Tuesday that there needs to be a discussion on Article 370 and that the government would try to 'convince the unconvinced' on the disadvantages of Article 370. He had stated this to be Narendra Modi's intention.
Immediately after, Omar Abdullah slammed the new government, tweeting that:
"Mark my words & save this tweet - long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won't be part of India or Art 370 will still exist."
"Art 370 is the ONLY constitutional link between J&K & rest of India. Talk of revocation of not just ill informed it's irresponsible (sic),'' he added.
The PDP too slammed the minister's efforts to reopen the debate on Article 370, and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to control him. It described as "disruptive" his statement that the "process of repealing Article 370 of the Constitution of India had begun."
"The PMO must clarify the statement to reassure the people of Jammu and Kashmir that that no mischief is on its way", PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said in a statement issued earlier on Tuesday.