At a time when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre's attempts to scrap Article 370 is an omnipresent news item, Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has done one better. Scoring a self goal during a debate in the Lok Sabha, in the presence of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Chowdhury embarrassed the party, and majority of the parties opposing the article, by appearing to suggest that decisions taken by Centre on Jammu and Kashmir were not an internal matter.
Wildly flailing his arms and speaking animatedly when the debate on the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill began in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Chowdhury was the first leader from the Opposition to be invited to speak by Speaker Om Birla, after the bill was tabled by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He had made his statements in Rajya Sabha on Monday amid huge opposition from parties, including the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United).
Today in Lok Sabha, Chowdhury demanded to know the government's position on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) while referring to a 1994 resolution by the Lower House stating that Jammu and Kashmir, entiely, was an integral part of India. Alleging that the central government has thrown all rules out of the window by proposing to create two union territories out of Jammu and Kashmir, Chowdhury said, "You say that it is an internal matter. But it is being monitored since 1948 by the UN, is that an internal matter? We signed Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration, was that an internal matter or bilateral? Can Jammu and Kashmir still be an internal matter? We want to know. The entire Congress party wants to be enlightened by you," the Congress leader said.
A visibly furious Shah told Chowdhury to refrain from making "general statements". "General statements should not be made. This is the biggest panchayat of the country. Please tell us which rules have been violated. I will respond to them," he said. Chowdhury sought clarification on how the United Nations was monitoring Kashmir if the region was an internal issue. "I don't think you are thinking about PoK, you violated all rules and converted a state into a union territory overnight." Chowdhury added. "Government has converted Kashmir into a prison."
"You don't consider Jammu and Kashmir an integral part India? What are you saying? Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Whenever I say Jammu and Kashmir, PoK comes under it. I am being aggressive because you didn't think that PoK comes under Jammu and Kashmir. We can die for it," Shah responded. "I want to make it very clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inseparable part of India. There is absolutely no doubt over it, and there is no legal dispute on this." Government benches were heard chanting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Vande Mataram'.
Chowdhury, later, reportedly said that he was misunderstood and quoted out of context.
When a legislation with wide-reaching implications was being debated in Parliament (on the penultimate day of the Budget Session), Chowdhury perhaps gave a glimpse of the ideological bankruptcy that has hit the Congress. For the sake of opposing the government in power, will the largest Opposition party behave like political interns on the floor of Lok Sabha, shoot from the hip, and oppose for the sake of opposing without any proper homework?
After two embarassing loses that the party has been handed in two successive General Elections, with a president who refuses to lead the party and with leaders of the party (Janardan Dwivedi, Deepender Hooda and Jaiveer Shergill) openly coming out in support of Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370 in Kammu and Kashmir, Congress seems to be in a quagmire.
Chowdhury is not the first Congress MP to embarass his party in the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament. Five MPs skipping voting on triple talaq bill on 30 July in Lok Sabha put the party in spot again. Congress Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh resigned from the party and joined the BJP recently. He, too, didn't vote over the triple talaq issue.
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Updated Date: Aug 06, 2019 14:56:23 IST