New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intent on Kashmir, asking whether he was sincerely interested in solving the problem or was using it as a political instrument.
Interacting with students of Stella Maris College in Chennai, Rahul said: “It is a question of faith. If the Prime Minister truly wants to embrace the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the people of Jammu and Kashmir will also embrace the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister doesn’t want, the people too will not embrace him.”
The Congress chief was responding to a question asked by a Kashmiri student about his plan to address the alienation among youths of the state.
He said: “It has to be from the heart. Do you actually want to solve the problem? Do you actually care for the people of Jammu and Kashmir? Do you actually want to reach out to them or are they just a political instrument for you?”
Rahul added: “The first step is building that bridge. If you look between 2004 and 2014, that bridge was built. The attitude changed after that. Pakistan will look for every opportunity to create trouble but you will have to engage with the people, show them a better future. It is possible.”
The Congress has repeatedly said the RSS-BJP cannot solve the Kashmir problem and that Modi had completely messed it up in the last five years.
In response to another question about terrorism and whether fighting with Pakistan was the only solution, Rahul said: “Jammu and Kashmir was on fire in 2004 but we decided to fight terror strategically. We isolated Pakistan using diplomacy and engaged with the local population and took several measures. I took industrialists to the state, launched programmes for students and we finished terrorism.”
Arguing that the alliance between the BJP and the PDP solely for power was a huge mistake, he said. “Modi’s policies are setting Jammu and Kashmir on fire. Modi pushed people away and that allowed Pakistan to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. Why did you not stop our 45 CRPF jawans from being killed by terrorists? Why did you wait for that to happen and then say we will do it now? They do it for public opinion, for scoring brownie points.”