Bharatiya Janata Party stands for abrogation of Article 370 in line with Jana Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee's views but has put it on the back-burner keeping in mind its 'coalition dharma' in Jammu and Kashmir where it is in power with Peoples Democratic Party, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Sunday.
Singh, minister of state in the prime minister's office also said the government favoured return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley with "respect and security" as it was "incomplete" without them.
In an interview to PTI on matters pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir, Singh, a Lok Sabha member from Udhampur, spoke on a host of issues, but preferred to downplay controversial matters, including repeal of Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Singh said he had grown up in politics understanding the ideology of Mookerjee, who favoured "ek nishan, ek vidhan, ek pradhan" ('one flag, one Constitution, one leader').
"So, how can we get away from that truth, how can we get away from our legacy and how can we get away from our birth," he said.
"I will not be a hypocrite. There is no reason to be hypocritical. I belong to a party which has followed a particular ideology with conviction and against all odds," Singh said, insisting BJP has not abandoned its stand on Article 370.
The 58-year-old doctor-turned-politician said BJP had differences with PDP on a host of issues, including on Article 370 and that the two "have to accept" it.
"One thing is very clear that we are in coalition in J-K, but we have ideological differences. We have to accept that. And that is very true," he said.
Singh said while BJP as a party stands by all ideological principles it has espoused since its creation, "wherever there is a coalition, the agenda is based on mutual acceptance".
Alliances, he said, are entered into "on the principle of mutual coexistence in order to serve ourselves and offer ourselves to the people and, therefore, when tomorrow we are in full majority, the ideological issues will also be taken up".
"But as they say in English, we have agreed to disagree on certain issues and at the same time agreed to agree.”
"So, instead of raising contentious issues in a coalition, which is not in keeping with the coalition dharma, we have chosen to concentrate on dedicating ourselves to the development agenda which is the Common Minimum Programme," the union minister said.
After taking over as minister in May last year, Singh had stoked a controversy with remarks that the Narendra Modi government was open to debate on the merits and demerits of Article 370 and would make efforts to "convince the unconvinced" by holding contact programmes with every section of society in the state.
He had later retracted the statement, which drew flak from Opposition parties and various stakeholders.
Singh also spoke about the demand for rehabilitation of 60,000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley with "respect and safety" as without them it was "incomplete".
"There should not be any doubt that Kashmiri Pandits belong to Kashmir Valley. The Valley is incomplete without them. The culture, the civilisation of Kashmir is incomplete without them.
"Those who say or feel that they should not return are actually doing great disservice to the cause of Kashmir. But the return of the Kashmiri Pandits has to be with respect and with security. It has to be a safe and respectable return," he said.