Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaking to ANI on BJP's poll manifesto.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaking to ANI on BJP's poll manifesto.

Those criticising BJP's stand on Articles 370, 35A should engage in meaningful dialogue: Sitharaman

ANI | Updated: Apr 08, 2019 19:49 IST

New Delhi [India], April 8 (ANI): In a veiled reference to political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that those commenting on BJP's commitment to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution, should engage in a meaningful discussion on these issues rather than giving threatening statements.
BJP released its election manifesto on Monday, proposing to annul the two Articles. Article 370 grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A, incorporated into the Constitution in 1954, provides special rights and privileges to the citizens of the state. 
There are several public interest litigations pending in the Supreme Court, challenging both Articles 370 and 35A.        
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference (NC) leader Farooq Abdullah reacted strongly to the BJP poll promise to do away with the two constitutional provisions, if voted to power.
"I think people who have held constitutional position earlier like chief minister of the state and other leaders at both state and central levels should engage in a meaningful discussion on these matters rather than giving threatening statements. Today, the country finds sense and meaning in greater dialogue and discussion rather than just an emotional claim. I think every matter whether we may like it or not, will have to be spoken in detail for the people to understand rather than taking a jaded position," Sitharaman told ANI.
To a question on the Ram temple issue figuring towards the end of the manifesto, Sitharaman said that every word mentioned in the BJP's poll document has equal importance and claimed that all possible avenues will be explored to get the matter amicably resolved.
"Whether it is the first page or the last page. every word uttered in the manifesto has equal importance. And on the Ram temple issue, we have repeatedly said that it is a matter related to the country's 'astha' (faith). Even here what we are underlining is although the matter is still in the court, we will wait for the court verdict but every possible route will be tried so that the matter gets amicably resolved," the Defence Minister said.
Construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya has been a long-standing promise of BJP. The pledge was also included in the party's 2014 election manifesto.
On Congress calling "75 resolutions in BJP manifesto a bluff", Sitharaman said, "The speed with which Congress has reacted on the manifesto is very clear that they have not gone through even one of the 75. Congress should spend some time, read the manifesto, then talk." (ANI)