Rahul reverses his Kashmir view but the damage is done

Leader of India’s oldest party Rahul Gandhi abruptly reversed his view on Jammu & Kashmir after the country’s arch-foe Pakistan quoted him in a letter to the UN as saying “people are dying” there.

An embarrassed Rahul tweeted on Wednesday that Jammu & Kashmir is “India’s internal issue” and that violence in the region was “instigated and supported by Pakistan.”

In its latest letter to the UN on Tuesday, Pakistan quoted Rahul to show that India’s opposition leaders are concerned about the situation in Jammu & Kashmir after the Parliament on Aug 6 abrogated Article 370 and removed its special status.

In the tweet put out, Rahul described Pakistan as the prime supporter of terrorism across the world.

However, Rahul did not utter a word on Aug 6 when Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, debating on Article 370 in Parliament, shocked the House by asking whether Kashmir was really an internal matter of India since the UN had been monitoring it from 1948.

The Congress voted against the abrogation of Article 370. Four days later, Rahul told media that people were dying in Kashmir.

A day later, Kashmir police countered him by saying not a bullet was fired in the region since Aug 6.

But the damage was done as Rahul’s words gave credibility to the reports appearing in Western media and statements given by Pakistan to the world.

Since then, the Congress party, Western media and Pakistan have been talking in one voice.

Rahul’s alarmist view on Kashmir prompted Governor Satyapal Malik to invite him to the region to see the situation for himself. The invite was more a symbolic gesture.

Rahul expressed his willingness to visit Kashmir but set conditions which the governor rejected outright.

On Aug 24, Rahul flew in to Srinagar along with a 12-member opposition team ignoring the governor’s request to cancel the visit to the sensitive Kashmir Valley.

Rahul’s team was stopped at the Srinagar airport and sent back to Delhi.

Like Rahul’s statement on “people dying” in Kashmir, his team’s Srinagar airport drama was also played up by Western media and Islamabad.

Rahul’s game stopped on Tuesday when Pakistan quoted him in its letter to strengthen its case against India in the UN.

The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Rahul’s tweet but said it came too late.

BJP wants him to apologise to the nation for the Kashmir sell-out.

They see his tweet more as a damage-control exercise after members of the UN Security Council except China backed India’s move to remove the special status of Jammu & Kashmir.

BJP leaders say Rahul is singing a patriotic tune now after giving ammunition to Pakistan.

This is not the first time he is behaving this way. During the India-China military stand-off at Dokhlam tri-junction, the entire Gandhi family was seen with top Chinese diplomats.

Rahul’s latest tweet comes amid a growing row within Congress over too much negativity against the BJP-led central government.

It all began with Congress leader Jairam Ramesh telling party cadres to recognise the good work done by the Modi government instead of blindly attacking its policies.

Another Congress leader Sashi Tharoor recently backed Ramesh and the party’s Kerala unit issued a summons to Tharoor who has told them to back off.

Rahul is upset by the row over negativity and his latest tweet may be an acknowledgement of what Ramesh and Tharoor have been saying.