Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi told United States President Donald Trump that Kashmir was an internal matter of India and he need not interfere, the Hindustan Times reported. Trump had offered to mediate over the Kashmir matter several times since August 5, and had also claimed that Modi had asked him to do so, a claim India vociferously denied.

Shah, at an election rally in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district, also asserted that in 70 years, no other prime minister but Narendra Modi “showed the courage to abrogate Article 370”. He criticised the Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra, alleging that they work to serve the interests of the families that control them, PTI reported.

“The people of Maharashtra have a choice to make,” Shah said. “The Congress and NCP work for the welfare of their respective families, whereas the BJP and Shiv Sena have only the country’s interest in their mind.”

He criticised the Opposition parties for objecting to the decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status. The minister claimed Articles 370 and 35A had impeded Jammu and Kashmir’s complete integration with India. “No PM ever dared to touch this issue,” Shah said. “But, Modi ji did it. Today Kashmir is an integral part of the country.”

The Union home minister claimed that not a drop of blood was shed after the Kashmir decision was taken. “Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said rivers of blood will flow in the Valley if the decision [abrogation of Article 370] was taken and voted against the decision in Parliament,” Shah said.

The BJP president said India’s security was more important than vote-bank politics. “Why is the Opposition asking what is the connection of Article 370 with Maharashtra politics?” he asked. “The entire country wanted Kashmir to be a part of India and Modi ji fulfilled that wish.”

Shah also wondered why the Indian Overseas Congress discussed India’s internal matters with foreign leaders, in a reference to British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. “Kamal Dhaliwal – Overseas Congress chief, close to Rahul Gandhi, met Jeremy Corbyn and said situation not normal in Kashmir,” Shah said. “I want to ask Rahul Gandhi, what does your party want to do by discussing matters of country with foreign leaders?”

At all the poll rallies in Maharashtra this week, Shah has defended the Centre’s decision to scrap Article 370, and castigated the Opposition. On Thursday, he claimed that national security was strengthened by the Narendra Modi government, and India was seen differently after the “surgical strikes” in 2016.

Elections in the state will be held on October 21 and the results will be announced three days later.

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