Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday warned that any move to abrogate Article 370 will reopen the issue of the state's accession to India, as the political row ignited by Narendra Modi's call for a debate on this constitutional provision persisted.
The BJP on its part said the provision has nothing to do with secularism and felt it is an instrument of "oppression" against Indian citizens.
Union Minister Farooq Abdullah reiterated that Article 370 which guarantees special status to J and K cannot be revoked and called for strengthening of this provision.
"Nobody, whether (Narendra) Modi or anybody else, can ever revoke Article 370. The article is there and will remain there forever," the National Conference leader said in Srinagar. Modi wanted a debate on whether Article 370 had benefited the common man in the state.
Farooq's party colleague Devender Singh Rana advised the BJP prime ministerial candidate to emulate former premier Atal Behari Vajpayee, saying he distanced himself from even commenting over the sensitive issue of Article 370, knowing well that any attempt to trample this provision will weaken the relationship of J and K with Indian dominion.
At an event in Delhi, Omar minced no words in saying that Article 370 was acting as a "bridge" between J and K and rest of the country and attempts to weaken it would only weaken this relationship.
Replying to a question by BJP leader Vijay Jolly at "Agenda Aaj Tak" of India Today group conclave in New Delhi, Omar regretted that Article 370 was being presented as if it was distancing the state from the rest of the country.
"I can't understand why you people are projecting the Article 370, which is the foundation stone of relations between Jammu and Kashmir with rest of India, as a provision which is creating a distance between Kashmir and Delhi.
"The only way to abrogate it is by recalling the Constituent Jammu and Kashmir Assembly where the question of state's accession with India can again be reopened," he said, adding that more you try to harm the "bridge" the more you are weakening the relationship between the state and rest of country.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley noted that after a long time Article 370 is being seriously debated in this country.
"An ill-informed debate had earlier linked the issue of Article 370 to a secular v/s non-secular debate. Article 370 has nothing to do with secularism. My own study on the subject has revealed a very interesting dimension as to how Article 370 can turn into an instrument of oppression and discrimination against Indian citizens," he wrote in an article.