Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday hit back at Union Home Minister Amit Shah for saying that the Congress and People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration wanted to take Jammu and Kashmir back to the era of terror and turmoil. He also criticised Shah for using the term “Gupkar Gang”.
“Amit Shah alleges: Congress wants to take J&K back to the era of terror and turmoil, when in talk with other parties in the upcoming District Development Council elections,” Sibal said in a tweet. “Amitji was BJP-PDP [Bharatiya Janata Party-Peoples Democratic Party] alliance to bring back terror in J&K? Which gang were you then part of?”
Congress leader Saifuddin Soz also criticised Shah for the comments, saying that the home minister has shown India and its democracy in poor light by describing the alliance of mainstream political parties as a “gang”, PTI reported.
In a statement, Soz said that the ruling government at the Centre has already caused damage to the system of governance by imagining that the Bharatiya Janata Party is the only safeguard for India’s democratic system.
“The reality is, however, quite opposite to this!” he said. “The fact is that the present day governance at the Centre has brought a bad name to India and its democracy and it is now a great jolt to the entire system that togetherness of Kashmir mainstream [People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration] is seen as a threat to India’s democratic system.”
“If the Union home minister is not prepared to deal with a democratic set-up in Kashmir, would he then wait for [the] emergence of a set-up contrary to the present democratic combination,” Soz asked. He added that the relationship of Jammu and Kashmir and the Centre has already received setbacks and the damage seemed “irreparable.”
On Shah’s comments, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also said in an interview: “The home minister is bypassing his responsibilities and making misleading comments.”
Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, meanwhile, lashed out at Shah for his remarks against the party. Singh said in a statement that “spreading lies and creating new illusions” had become the way of the Narendra Modi-led government. He also accused Shah of making misleading statements about Jammu and Kashmir, while keeping the responsibility of national security aside.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, whose parties are constituents of the alliance, had also criticised Shah for his remarks on Tuesday. “We are not a ‘gang’ Amit Shahji, we are a legitimate political alliance having fought and continuing to fight elections, much to your disappointment,” Abdullah said.
Shah had on Tuesday gone on a tirade against the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, calling it an “unholy global gathbandhan”. He claimed the “Gupkar Gang” wanted “foreign forces to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir” and that the people of India will “not tolerate them”.
The Union home minister also criticised the Congress in his tweets. In an apparent reference to an alleged comment made by Farooq Abdullah on taking “China’s support” for reinstating Article 370 and Mufti’s comments on the national flag, Shah asked Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi to clarify their stand. “Do Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji support such moves of the Gupkar Gang?” he tweeted.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, or Gupkar Alliance, is a tie-up of six parties, which was formed in October with the agenda of reinstating the now abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which provided special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Under the Gupkar Declaration, the regional parties and the Congress had resolved to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it.