As Article 370 is scrapped, Congress split wide open as prominent party leaders support move
(Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

While the government is celebrating the "historic decision" with regard to Jammu and Kashmir, the main opposition party Congress is divided on whether to support or oppose the move. The government's move to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 has split the Congress down the middle. More and more prominent members of the leading opposition party are coming out in support of the radical decision, which also includes the state's bifurcation into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

There is a difference of opinion in the party on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Many leaders are of the opinion that the party should not go against the sentiment of people, while other leaders are of the view that the party should not change its stance, which was also an election promise during the Lok Sabha elections, sources said.

Here's a look at Congress leaders who are in favour of scrapping Article 370 and those who are against it:

In Favour:

"I'm in absolute support of the decision taken. It will help in integrating J&K into the mainstream. It's a historic decision. It should not be politicised. As an MLA, in my capacity, I welcome this decision," Aditi Singh told news agency ANI on Article 370 revoked. She is Congress MLA from Raebareli Sadar.

Another senior Congress leader Dr Jyoti Mirdha, who is a former Member Parliament and granddaughter of Dr Nathuram Mirdha, congratulated the government for it bold step to integrate India. "Nation first! Opposing for the heck of opposing is no virtue. Join in, congratulate the government for taking a bold step towards integrating India," she tweeted.

Congress Working Committee (CWC) member Deepender Hooda tweeted in favour of scrapping it saying that Article 370 has lost relevance in the 21st Century and it should be abolished. "It is my opinion that Article 370 has no relevance in the 21st century and it should be revoked. It is also in the interest of the country's unity and people of Jammu and Kashmir that are an integral part of the party. But it is the responsibility of the current government to executive this in the environment of peace and belief," Hooda tweeted.

Another Congress leader, Jaiveer Shergill said on Twitter, "My Personal Point of View : I support abrogation of Art 370 (as opening words say it's temporary) but Only and Only in accordance with provisions and methodology provided by the Constitution of India which mandates consent of J&K State Assembly -any other way is Unconstitutional."

Taking a neutral stand, Mumbai Congress leader Milind Deora tweeted: "Very unfortunate that Article 370 is being converted into a liberal vs conservative debate. Parties should put aside ideological fixations and debate what's best for India's sovereignty and federalism, peace in J and K, jobs for Kashmiri youth and justice for Kashmiri Pandits."

The Congress's chief whip Bhubaneswar Kalita quit the party and the Rajya Sabha calling the Congress stand on Kashmir "suicide" and "against the mood and emotions of the nation". He said in a statement: "The Congress has asked me to issue a whip on the Kashmir issue. But the truth is that the mood of the nation has completely changed and this whip is against the public sentiment across the country....It seems the Congress is committing suicide with this ideology and I don't want to be part of this."

Congress veteran Janardhan Dwivedi said a historic blunder had been remedied. "My mentor Ram Manohar Lohia was against Article 370 from the start.... My personal view is that this is a matter of national satisfaction. A mistake made during independence has been corrected, even if belatedly," Janardhan Dwivedi told news agency ANI.

Another Congress leader and Sports and Youth Affairs minister of Rajasthan Ashok Chandna also tweeted his support. “This is my personal view, I support scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. But the implementation of the decision must be done through peaceful means and not with high-handedness,” he wrote, joining several other Congress leaders who have supported the government’s move.

Those who are against of scrapping Article 370

Former Union home minister P Chidambaram declared it as the worst day in the Constitutional history of India and warned that every political party should wake up on this issue as it can be done in other states too by dismissing the state governments and imposing President's rule.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad condemned the government's proposal to revoke Article 370 which gives the special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Responding to Union Home Minister Amit Shah's statement in the House, Azad accused the BJP of murdering the Constitution. Later, many other leaders also came in support of scrapping Article 370.

Breaking his silence over the removal of Article 370, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday termed the BJP-led government's move an "abuse of executive power" which "has grave implications for national security." Rahul's party Congress has vehemently opposed the Centre's action in the Parliament. "National integration isn't furthered by unilaterally tearing apart J&K, imprisoning elected representatives and violating our Constitution. This nation is made by its people, not plots of land," Gandhi tweeted.

Questioning India's long-established position, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Tuesday threw a shocker in the Lok Sabha, asking how was Kashmir issue is an "internal matter" if "United Nations is monitoring it since 1948." "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 the Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration, was that an internal matter or bilateral?" Chowdhury said in the Lok Sabha. "You violated all rules and converted a state into a Union Territory overnight," he stated.

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