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Congress 2024 poll manifesto promises restoration of statehood to J&K

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Steers away from Article 370, revocation of AFSPA from UT

Srinagar: In its manifesto for 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress on Friday promised to restore full statehood to Jammu & Kashmir, but the party remained silent on abrogation of the Article 370 and revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the Union Territory.

The manifesto for 2024 Lok Sabha polls was released by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, who was flanked by senior leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi.

“We will immediately restore full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. We will amend the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to include the tribal areas of Ladakh,” the party manifesto said.

The party steered clear of talking about abrogation of Article 370 and revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from J&K, even as both were part of its manifesto in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In the 2019 manifesto, the party had promised that nothing will be done to change the constitutional position of J&K. “We also acknowledge the unique history of the State (J&K) and the unique circumstances under which the State acceded to India that led to the inclusion of Article 370 in the Constitution of India. Nothing will be done or allowed to change the constitutional position,” the party had said in its 2019 manifesto.

In the same manifesto, the party had also promised that the AFSPA and the Disturbed Areas Act in J&K will be reviewed and suitable changes will be made in the text of the laws to balance the requirements of security and the protection of human rights.

Recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Centre will consider revoking the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir and that the footprint of central armed forces will also be reduced.

The latest manifesto also says that the Congress party will engage with Pakistan on its willingness and ability to end cross-border terrorism if it is voted to power following the Lok Sabha elections poised to be held from April 19.

“…engagement with Pakistan depends fundamentally on its willingness and ability to end cross-border terrorism,” it says.

“Congress will significantly increase the size of the Indian Foreign Service, open more missions abroad, leverage our economic strengths, and acquire a position of leadership through the country’s values and mutually beneficial economic relationships,” the manifesto said.

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