The AAM Aadmi (common man) Party, which registered a spectacular victory in Delhi assembly elections recently, is in the dock over its stand on India-administered Kashmir.
The newly elected party has distanced itself from the statement of its senior leader and lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, who called for a referendum on the deployment of the Indian army in Kashmir.
“Deployment of army within the country should be decided on the basis of internal security threat. There is no question of a referendum on this,” Arvind Kejriwal, the party leader and Delhi Chief Minister, said.
In a TV interview Bhushan had said, “People should be asked whether they want the army to handle the internal security of Kashmir”.
He said that if the Kashmiri people did not want it, “then the army should be withdrawn from the hinterland”.
“We have to win the hearts of the people in the Valley who have moved away from the mainstream since they feel that the army had been deployed in Kashmir against their wishes and was violating their human rights,” he told in an interview to a TV news channel.
Following sharp criticism from opposition parties and his party leader, Bhushan later said he did not hold the opinion any longer.
He issued a statement saying, “Any reference to referendum should not be misconstrued as plebiscite on Kashmir’s relationship with India”.
AAP leaders in a bid to soothe the sharp reactions told media that Bhushan was quoted out of context.
“Kashmir is an integral part of India,” the Delhi chief minister Kejriwal told reporters, adding that what was said were Bhushan’s own views.
“We believe that the sentiments of the locals should be respected. Otherwise, democracy will be under threat,” he said.
Opposition parties have taken no time to criticise the AAP as a tyke whose activist speeches are not accepted while holding responsible office of governance.
Opposition leader Arun Jaitley said that Bhushan’s remark was “regrettable”.
Jaitley said, “Till such time the infrastructure of terror remains, the presence of the army in J&K is essential”.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Chief Minister of India-administered Kashmir, said the AAP must refrain from commenting on, “issues not well-versed with”.
Congress party spokesperson Sanjay Jha told reporters that he advised, “the AAP must not be irresponsible” and that they are a political party and not activists with well-formed views on sensitive issues.