Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party decided the fate of the people of Jammu and Kashmir while keeping them in the dark. He was referring to the Centre’s decision to abrogate special status for the state under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, on August 5.

Baghel also told the Hindustan Times that the difference of opinion among Congress leaders was not a big matter as differences exist in all parties. “Is there no difference of opinion within the BJP?” he asked. “What is the big deal if some Congress leaders express their opinions? The party has publicly given its line on J&K. Even before the BJP’s birth when the Jana Sangh was functioning; they had been demanding that Article 370 should be removed. The BJP has just implemented its poll manifesto. But the way it was done is wrong.”

The chief minister added that states like Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had also been divided, but after taking the approval of the state Assembly. “People were kept in the dark when the BJP decided their fate,” he argued. “The government took a decision about their lives but they did not know anything about it. Is this democracy?”

Baghel said he had no personal opinion on the revocation of special status, and would follow the party line. The Congress had opposed the abrogation of special status on the grounds that the people of the state had not been consulted.

The chief minister also claimed that no other family had sacrificed more for the country than the Nehru-Gandhi family. United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had last week been appointed the interim Congress chief, after Rahul Gandhi refused to take back his resignation.

“Had Sonia Gandhi wanted, she could have become the prime minister but she favoured Manmohan Singh for the top post for 10 years,” Baghel said. “It is natural that Congress workers have an emotional attachment to the family that has sacrificed so much for the nation. They also support and fight for the workers. They are our strength, not weakness. No one has blamed the leadership for the defeat in the 2019 election.” The Congress won just 52 seats in the 2019 General Elections, eight more than in 2014.

The chief minister also claimed that Maoists are confined to a small area in his state. He also asserted that the state forces have been able to push them back.

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