Former Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Sunday supported the Centre’s Jammu and Kashmir decisions, going against the party’s stand on the matter. He said the party had “lost its way a bit” and was not the “old Congress” anymore, NDTV reported.
On August 5, the government hollowed out Article 370 of Constitution, removing Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and split the state into two Union Territories. Eight parties had opposed the government’s move in Parliament. However, Congress leaders such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, Janardan Dwivedi, Karan Singh, Jaiveer Shergill, Milind Deora, Aditi Singh and Bhubaneswar Kalita backed the government.
“[Article] 370 was removed and many of my colleagues opposed it,” Hooda said. “When it comes to issues of patriotism and self-respect, I will never compromise.” He added he will always support the Centre when it does something right.
The former Haryana chief minister said he was born in a patriotic family, ANI reported. In a message to those who opposed the Centre, Hooda said: “Usulon par jahan aanch aaye, vahan takrana zaruri hai, jo zinda hai to zinda dikhna zaruri hai [When principles are affected, conflict arises; if you are alive then you have to show it].”
The Congress leader’s son Deepender Singh Hooda also backed the government’s decisions. “I have always kept national interest above political one... let’s talk of Article 370,” NDTV quoted him as saying. “It was a temporary settlement... I opposed the way it was scrapped, but I support its removal. I will always support this... but people who are using this for political mileage – I am not with them.”
Bhupinder Singh Hooda also hit out at the Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana and sought an account of its work in the last five years. “I support the decision to abrogate Article 370 but I want to tell Haryana government that you will have to give an account of what you did in five years, don’t hide behind this decision,” he said. “Our brothers from Haryana are deployed as soldiers in Kashmir, that is why I supported it.”
The Congress leader also announced that he would be the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the Assembly elections scheduled later this year, The Indian Express reported. However, the Congress has not made any official confirmation.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda declared he would appoint four deputy chief ministers if elected. “If we form the government, we will bring a law like Andhra Pradesh, so that 75% of jobs go to the people of Haryana,” ANI quoted him as saying.