British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has sparked a war of words in India between the BJP and the Congress on Thursday after he claimed that human rights situation in Kashmir was discussed during a meeting with "UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party".
The BJP lashed out at the Congress over its "shameful shenanigans" and demanded an explanation following which the latter hit out at the ruling party in a tweet accusing it of spreading lies instead of addressing questions on the economic slowdown in the country.
Congress' senior spokesperson Anand Sharma, who is the Chairman of the party's Foreign Affairs department, later told ANI it "disowned" any claim made at the meeting in its entirety. "We are shocked by this misrepresentation. Any issue pertaining to Jammu & Kashmir are purely India's internal affairs," says Congress leader Anand Sharma told ANI on Congress's UK representatives meeting with UK's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
"A very productive meeting with UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party where we discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir,” Corbyn said in a Twitter statement on Wednesday. "There must be a de-escalation and an end to the cycle of violence and fear which has plagued the region for so long," notes his statement, alongside an image of him joined by Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry with a group of Congress Party UK delegates in London.
The Labour Party leader, whose stand on Kashmir has not gone down well with the Indian government, also tweeted a picture of the meeting. The picture included Kamal Dhaliwal, who heads the overseas Congress in the UK.
"Appalling! Congress owes it to the people of India to explain what its leaders are telling foreign leaders about India. India will give a befitting reply to Congress for these shameful shenanigans!" the BJP said in a tweet, slamming the Congress.
The BJP on Thursday lashed out at the Congress over its "shameful shenanigans" and demanded an explanation after the UK unit of the Indian Overseas Congress met Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in London and reportedly held talks over the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The saffron party's foreign affairs department in-charge Vijay Chauthaiwale told News18, "This is Congress seeking advice from the UK Labour Leader - they might as well go to their masters directly in Pakistan."
The UK unit of the Indian Overseas Congress said it had gone to meet Corbyn to condemn the Kashmir resolution passed by his party and reiterate to them that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter and no intervention will be accepted.
"Our meeting with Jeremy Corbyn was held to condemn the Kashmir resolution passed by his Party and to reiterate that J&K is an internal matter and outside intervention will not be accepted. BJP's malicious statements are another attempt to distract people from their failures," the Indian Overseas Congress said in a tweet. The Congress party accused the BJP of making "malicious statements" to distract people from its failures.
The meeting comes despite efforts by the Labour Friends of India (LFIN) group within the party urging the Corbyn and Thornberry for a meeting to consider withdrawing the resolution passed at its conference last month.
"We have concerns about the procedure for the selection of the motion, the quality of the evidence that backed it up, the lack of a balanced debate on the subject, and its ultimate selection and adoption," read a letter issued last week by LFIN - a group co-chaired by London's Indian-origin Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal and Darren Jones MP.
Labour Friends of India was among the groups that felt the brunt of the resolution's aftermath as the Indian mission in London cancelled participation in a proposed annual reception and even the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a harsh rebuke over the “uninformed and unfounded” motion.
The Labour Party resolution:
The Labour Party resolution tabled at its annual party conference in Brighton and passed on September 26 called on Corbyn to meet the high commissioners of both India and Pakistan to ensure there is "mediation" and restoration of peace and normality to prevent a potential nuclear conflict.
India has categorically told the international community that its move on Kashmir was an internal matter. India maintains Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party has any role in it.
(Inputs from PTI)