AAP distances itself from Bhushan

AAP distances itself from Bhushan

The Aam Aadmi Party on Monday faced a major embarrassment from its senior leader Prashant Bhushan over the sensitive Kashmir issue.

Though the party distanced itself from Bhushan’s views expressed on a TV channel where he sought referendum on the issue of deploying Army in the valley, it had to face all round criticism.

 Bhushan also endorsed the party line but with some caveats as his stand on alleged human rights abuses by the Army in Kashmir is well known. 

In the TV interview which sparked off the controversy, Bhushan said: “There should be a referendum on whether people want AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) to continue in the valley or not.”

Bhushan had, however, endorsed Army deployment on Jammu and Kashmir’s border and also supported Army deployment for protecting the minorities.

The AAP distanced itself from his views and came out in favour of Army deployment in the state. The party made it clear that though it supports states’ rights in internal security matters, it endorses deployment of the Army in Kashmir.

“Deployment of the Army within the country should be decided on the basis of internal security threat. There is no question of a referendum on this. But we believe the sentiments of locals should be respected. Otherwise democracy will be under threat,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“The AAP does not support referendum on such issues,” he added.

 Bhushan, in his statement, said that he and his party view Kashmir as an integral part of India and clarified that any reference to referendum should not be misconstrued with plebiscite on Kashmir’s relationship with India.

Bhushan had triggered a similar controversy in 2011 by supporting plebiscite in Kashmir on its relationship with India. Both Kejriwal and Anna Hazare had strongly criticised the idea and termed it as Bhushan’s personal view.

The statement has created a political storm with the BJP charging that the debutant party and the Congress are speaking in identical voices and end up mirroring Pakistan on the vexed Valley problems.

“Bhushan’s remark is in line with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that the two neighbours were on the verge of a breakthrough on Kashmir when Pervez Musharraf was Pakistan president,” BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told reporters on Monday.

Distancing from the AAP remark, Congress leader Ambika Soni criticised Bhushan for airing views in a “flippant manner” since they have “repercussions and fallouts which you can't imagine”.

NC senior leader and UPA minister Farooq Abdullah said, “Reduction of the footprint of security forces and phased revocation of the AFSPA doesn't need a referendum, just a courageous statesman to decide. Governments get a mandate to govern and decide, they don’t need to conduct a referendum before every tricky decision. Leaders must lead.”

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