In retaliation to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik's offer to send him a 'plane' to visit the state, Rahul Gandhi explicitly stated that while he won't 'need an aircraft' but 'freedom' should be assured for him to travel and meet mainstream leaders and soldiers deployed in the valley.
In a tweet, the former Congress president said that along with a delegation of Opposition leaders, he would take the invitation to visit Jammu and Kashmir, but the Governor needs to ensure freedom to meet with the residents of the state, mainstream politicians like NC leader Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, JKPC president Sajad Lone and others, who still under house arrest, and the freedom to also meet the armed forces deployed in the valley.
In an interaction with Republic TV on Monday, the Governor assured that restrictions have been 'relaxed' in the valley, moreover, asked Rahul Gandhi to first 'come, see and then speak' over the prevailing situation.
He said, "I urge Rahul Gandhi to come and visit the state. I will send him a plane to visit the state. When you come and see only then you speak. The day this bill was debated in the Parliament, you party members were speaking rubbish, you should be embarrassed. They don't know what is concentration camp."
Congress Opposition leader of Rajya Sabha and former CM of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad was detained at the Srinagar Airport and sent back to Delhi from there itself on August 8 amid the restrictions in the state.
A disarrayed Congress has been vacillating over the issue of Kashmir integration ever since the Bill was passed in both the Houses last week. Arguing against the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, Azad called it a "murder of democracy" inside the Parliament, meanwhile, another senior leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram painted a communal picture of the issue saying the saffron party would not have "snatched away" the special status had Jammu and Kashmir been a Hindu-dominated state. Alleging that BJP revoked the Article with its "muscle power."
Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh echoed a similar stand on Kashmir and accused the Centre of 'lying over terror threat.'
"They want Kashmir, not Kashmiris. Why is this happening? This does not happen during the Congress rule. They have poisoned youth's mind with communalism... I don't believe this government. Every day, there are terrorist incidents. Does anything big happen due to which they stopped the Amarnath yatra," Singh told reporters on August 4.
Meanwhile, the young blood in the Congress party contradicting Rahul Gandhi's stance on the issue backed the government's move. Former Maharashtra Congress chief Milind Deora asked people to put a rest to the 'liberal vs conservative' debate. Following a similar stance, Congress' Jyotiraditya Scindia categorically supported the move.
Very unfortunate that Article 370 is being converted into a liberal vs conservative debate.— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) August 5, 2019
Parties should put aside ideological fixations & debate what’s best for India’s sovereignty & federalism, peace in J&K, jobs for Kashmiri youth & justice for Kashmiri Pandits.
I support the move on #JammuAndKashmir & #Ladakh and its full integration into union of India.— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) August 6, 2019
Would have been better if constitutional process had been followed. No questions could have been raised then. Nevertheless, this is in our country’s interest and I support this.