Amid a debate over Article 35A of the Constitution that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, state Congress chief Gulam Ahmed Mir today said that every Congressman is "promise-bound" to defend the various safeguards given to the state under the statute. At the same time, he said it is "premature to say anything about the role of Congress on the issue" as the matter is sub-judice. Mir said his party would reach out to the people of the state to educate them on pros and cons of Article 35A of the Constitution. The Congress along with CPI(M) and other mainstream parties attended an all-party meeting convened by main opposition National Conference in Srinagar on August 7 to chalk out a strategy to defend Article 35A of the Constitution which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state's "permanent residents" and their special rights and privileges. Mir, who was replying to a volley of questions on the debate over Article 370 and Article 35(A), avoided a direct answer about his party's stand. "The Congress is a national organisation and we have to see how the situation develops. The debate over the issue has just started among the political parties at various levels.
I think the discussion will continue for some time," Mir said. "Each Congressmen is promise-bound to defend the safeguards given to Jammu and Kashmir by virtue of various laws and constitutional guarantees by the then leadership and will fight this battle (attempts to revoke) with the help of the people," he said on the sidelines of a function here. "... We agree that the Article 35 A or Article 370 was the outcome of the decision taken by the then leadership, whether from Jammu and Kashmir (including) Maharaja Hari Singh, or the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru given the situation in the region," he said. The state Congress chief said his party would reach out to the people to make them understand the pros and cons of the Article 35A and Article 370 which guarantee special status to the state. On Congress leader Ahmed Patel's win in Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls after a bitter contest, Mir said, "The representatives of Mahatma Gandhi defeated the BJP on the soil from where the father of the nation preached non-violence and democratic values." "Yesterday's developments exposed the BJP. The aggression and use of money and power by BJP was completely against the ideology of Bapu," Mir said. Earlier, the Congress leader paid glowing tributes to the father of the nation on the 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement. The function was organised by the state Congress at its party headquarters and was attended by senior party leaders.
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