Jammu and Kashmir polls- BJP climbs down on article 370

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From demanding abrogation of article 370 to seeking a debate over its utility, the BJP's climb down on its 'core issue' has come a full circle in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Article 370 is a national issue for us and there should be an extensive debate over its utility," said Rajnath Singh, union minister of home affairs while addressing an election rally in cold desert of Leh on Thursday.

Singh said there are certain parties which raise the issue of Article 370 during elections to create a sense of fear among certain voters. "Those parties should discuss the issues of governance and development in the state," he said.

Under article 370 Jammu and Kashmir enjoys a special status in the Indian union.. Under article 370, no non-state subject can buy land or property in the state. Under the special status J&K is the only state
which has a separate constitution, flag and penal code.

"The state government did not implement the 73rd Constitutional Amendment despite being in power for six years. The Centre cannot implement it directly in the state due to Article 370. Therefore vote
for the party like BJP which is willing to implement the 73rd Amendment in J&K," Singh said.

In Delhi, the BJP leaders tried to steer clear of controversy saying this was an assembly election while Article 370 was a national issue.

"We have neither abandoned the issue nor sidelined it. The focus of this election is development of Jammu and Kashmir. We are focusing on three issues-- development, corruption and dynastic politcs," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.

The BJP has come under attack from its political opponents over its stand on Article 370.
The party's muted statements on Article 370 stem from its strategy in the valley, where it has reached out to outfits like that of Sajjad Lone's People's Conference, and the possibility of some of its own
candidates being reluctant to accept its abrogation.

Article 370 has been opposed by the organisation since the days of the Jan Sangh which was of the view that it would encourage separatism. The party leaders have subtly questioned the provision saying there should be a debate on whether it had helped in the state's development.

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