The Narendra Modi government is open to debate on Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Minister of State in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office Jitendra Singh said today while making it clear that efforts would be made through this exercise to "convince" the "unconvinced".
Repeating the stand of Modi during his rally in December last year, Singh, a first time Parliament Member and a surprise choice as Minister of State in the PMO, said, "his (Modi's) intention and that of the government is that we have a debate so that we can convince the unconvinced about the disadvantages of Article 370.
"If we do not have debate and discussion how would you be able to tell those who have been unable to understand what they have been deprived of on account of Article 370," he said after taking over as Minister of State incharge of Department of Personnel and Training, which has administrative control over the CBI.
57-year-old Singh said Article 370 was more of a psychological barrier than a physical one and added that the Modi-led Government was open to debate with all stakeholders, including youths, pros and cons of retaining or withdrawing the Article.
Singh said Modi supports debate on Article 370 keeping in mind democratic values. "The Prime Minister had said we want to have a debate. This does not mean that we want to have a debate because certain section of media interpreted that Prime Minister deviated from its stand. It's not so. He said so with respect to the highest values of democratic system."
Singh, a doctor by profession, noted that BJP has won half of the six Lok Sabha seats from Jammu and Kashmir. "You see BJP has won half of the seats in Parliament from J and K. While BJP won three seats, PDP bagged the remaining three.
"If you take voter account, we have more that 50 per cent vote share, he said."
Singh said his party has been inviting all stakeholders to get on board and succeeded to a greater extent in the Valley particularly with the youths.
He said people in J and K need to have an outlet. "A mainstream opposition outlet to dissent which we would not stifle because if you stifle that, that will lead them to an undemocratic outlet.
"But within that framework we also want to explain to them how they have been deprived of enormous advantage