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Rajnath Singh says no objection if Article 370 helps J&K develop

Saturday, 18 January 2014 - 9:01pm IST | Agency: PTI

BJP on Saturday appeared to be sobering its stand on Article 370 which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, with its chief Rajnath Singh saying the party will have no objection if it helps in the development of the state.

"J&K is a very serious, very sensitive region for us... If J&K develops because of Article 370, then we have no objection in keeping it," he said in his inaugural addresses at the two-day National Executive meet of the party.

This marks a subtle change in BJP's stand on one of its core issues as it has been consistently demanding repeal of the Article and has been aggressively campaigning for it.

At the same time, in a bid to not appear as giving up the issue, Rajnath Singh went on to add that if the Article 370 was a "conspiracy" to stop the state from joining Indian mainstream, then his party would not accept it under any circumstance.

"On Article 370 our stand is the same... but if J&K is not able to integrate with the national mainstream, if it is a conspiracy, then BJP will not accept Article 370 in any way.

The party's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had earlier last month stated at a rally in Jammu that there should be at least a debate on whether or not Article 370 has benefitted the state.

"As per Constitution, the debate will continue whether the Article 370 should end or continue-- at least there should be debate whether Article 370 has benefitted J&K or not," the Gujarat Chief Minister had said at the rally on December one.

BJP had then rejected suggestions that Modi had softened the party's stand on the issue.

"It would be incorrect for anyone to interpret BJP's challenge for a debate on this issue as a softening of stand on Article 370," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had said.

BJP has long kept its demand of Article 370's abrogation on the back burner in its quest for allies, who have been wary of its hardline stand, and the elevation of Modi had fuelled concerns that BJP would revert to its original demand under his command. 


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