BY CHANDRAKANT NAIDU
Bhopal, Aug 11 (IANS) The BJP has cautioned its spokespersons against going beyond the party’s official stand on abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP National General Secretary Arun Singh, media in-charge Anil Baluni and IT cell chief Amit Malviya conveyed Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s instructions through a video conference to spokespersons of all states.
With the Congress still preventing its spokespersons from attending TV debates on political issues the BJP panellists have been going ballistic with provocative statements in the media.
Senior leaders, however, seem to be exempt from the advisory because former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took a swipe at former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the issue while speaking during a membership campaign at Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
Chouhan called Nehru a “criminal” who allowed Pakistan to get away with its territorial designs when the Indian Army was about to free the territory from tribal invaders. He also accused Nehru of agreeing to Article 370. He also called Rahul Gandhi an “escapist” who deserted the battlefield when the party began losing.
His utterances have expectedly drawn pungent comments from the Congress and political observers. The Congress said the BJP and the RSS suffered from a complex over their alliance with the British before freedom while Nehru and others had suffered for freedom. “Chouhan is only reflecting that inferiority,” said Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta.
The BJP central leadership has issued guidelines to the spokespersons and asked them to use only the points mentioned by the party. They have been asked to focus on what happened in Kashmir in the past and the development activity that the government proposes for the region.
No comments should be made on national or international issues related to Jammu and Kashmir, the spokespersons have been told. All and sundry officials have been embarrassing the party by making statements without fully equipping themselves with the information about the issue.
State spokesperson Rajneesh Agarwal is said to have asked the party leaders on whether they should hold back on comments while the Congress leaders in MP are speaking in favour of the abolition of Article 370. To this, the central leaders have said the spokespersons need to consult them about the party line from time to time and they should avoid needless comments.
The spokespersons have been asked to organise press conferences in every district. Media in-charge Lokendra Parashar who claimed to have already held a press conference was asked why he jumped the gun.
The new directive is to make due preparations before organising press conferences in the next two to four days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Shah apparently wish to tread cautiously on the Kashmir issue at all levels.
The senior leaders have been asked to visit different regions of the state to assess the MLAs’ mood about the overtures from the ruling Congress party. State BJP president Rakesh Singh and the Sangh representative in the party Suhas Bhagat will now travel together to meet the MLAs individually. The tour is being undertaken as part of a membership drive.
Earlier Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava and Shivraj Singh Chauhan had started the tours. Subsequently Chouhan had to visit the other states in his capacity as national general secretary. Bhargava and Chouhan have not been able to pull together for some time.
Bhagat and Rakesh Singh are expected to begin their tours from the Vindhya region. Their brief includes checking the family and political background of the MLAs, their
connection with Congress and possible differences with the BJP leaders over any issues.