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PM's Remarks On Autonomy Evoke Mixed Reaction

Srinagar :Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's readiness to discuss autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir evoked mixed reaction on Wednesday with BJP saying it was opposed to autonomy but would be ready consider "more powers" to the
pm s remarks on autonomy evoke mixed reaction -...
PTI 11 Aug 2010, 22:11:54 PM IST
Srinagar :Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's readiness to discuss autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir evoked mixed reaction on Wednesday with BJP saying it was opposed to autonomy but would be ready consider "more powers" to the state and National Conference and CPI(M) welcoming the initiative.

PDP, the main opposition in the state, and separatists rejected the proposal saying it will not not provide a political solution to the Kashmir problem festering for six decades.

 A day after Singh told an all-party meeting that the Centre was willing to consider autonomy within the ambit of the Constitution, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said "if the autonomy means reversing the process of integration of Kashmir with India, then it is unacceptable to us".

Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said there cannot be autonomy within the country but there can be "more powers" to the state once it is decided between the Centre and the state. "That can be discussed", he told reporters.

However, National Conference President and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said "we welcome the Prime Minister's initiative on autonomy within the Constitution and I am hopeful that this will bring some peace to the valley".

 As a step forward in this direction, the senior Abdullah said his party "will begin dialogue with other political parties in the state and work out to bring a consensus on this issue."

The state Pradesh Congress Chief Saif-ud-din Soz did not directly comment on autonomy but said the Prime Minister's comments on the situation in the state will definitely produce a much-required "healing touch" in the state.

 Soz said the Prime Minister was very positive in the meeting and his expression of concern for the people of Jammu and Kashmir shows his compassion. "His speech will definitely produce a much-required healing touch for the people of the Valley."

Asked about his views on autonomy, he said "you see I am an ardent believer of dialogue between people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Government. I am sure it will yield a resolution to the political problem."

Soz also stressed on the need to send an all-party delegation to the state to have an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the Valley. "I also want senior editors of the prominent newspapers also to visit the Valley," he said.

 PDP, which welcomed the Prime Minister's opening remarks, however, reacted guardedly on the autonomy issue saying Kashmir is not a problem between Centre and the state.

"It has both internal as well as external dimensions which have to be addressed. Devolution of powers can be a part of resolution but cannot be a resolution by itself because we need to sort our relationship with the other Kashmir," PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said.

She said the problem needs a holistic solution and just devolution of powers from the Centre to the state.

Leader of another national party from the state, Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami of CPI-M said the Prime Minister's offer to discuss autonomy is a welcome statement.

"But the Prime Minister should himself hold consultations to build a consensus for a larger autonomy and devolution of power within the state," he said.

Tarigami, considered a peacemaker, said what the Prime Minister has said at the meeting has definitely a positive message to the people of the state.

"All the participants projected the views and the meeting will surely help reduce the grievances of people of the state," he said. PTI

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