Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday criticised the Congress after former Union Minister P Chidambaram asked the Centre to consider autonomy as an option for Jammu and Kashmir. The senior Congress leader had said that when most people of jammu and Kashmir seek azadi, they mean autonomy.

Earlier on Saturday, the Congress distanced itself from the former Union minister’s statement and described it as the “opinion of an individual”.

“Why are Congress leaders lending their voice to those who want Azadi in Kashmir?” Modi asked at an event in Karnataka’s Bengaluru. “This is an insult to our brave soldiers.” Modi is on a one-day visit to the state ahead of Assembly elections scheduled to be held in 2018.

The Congress is shamelessly using the language used by separatists, Modi said. The prime minister connected Chidambaram’s statements on the Kashmir matter to the questions raised by the Congress about the government’s decision to conduct a surgical strike on the border. “Now I can imagine why the Congress were angry after surgical strike.”

The prime minister demanded that the Congress give the public an explanation about the controversial statement. “How can the people trust those who do not trust the Army?”

Modi offered prayers at the Lord Manjunatha Swami temple in Dharmasthala and attended an event organised by the Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural development Project in the Dakshina Kannada district.

The prime minister’s statements follow his Mann ki Baat address, during which he praised the jawans for their bravery in keeping our borders and nation safe.