digvijay singh
Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh.IANS

Congress leader Digvijay Singh found himself embroiled in another controversy after he referred to Jammu and Kashmir as "India-occupied Kashmir" in an interview with journalists. He later rectified the statement saying Kashmir is an integral part of India. 

He later said as much to International Business Times, India: "It was slip of tongue which I immediately clarified. Kashmir is and shall be integral part of India."

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have now responded to the matter with attacks and counter-attacks.

Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala spoke in support of Singh on Thursday. "Jammu and Kashmir is part of India, will always be, Digvijay Singh corrected what he said, shouldn't be made an issue," he said.

Information and Broadcast Minister Venkaiah Naidu also responded to Singh's comment.

"Congress has once again displayed its insensitivity on J&K issue, its own leaders are not in consonance. These statements and contradictions by Congress smells of political opportunism," he said. "What's consistent about Congress party's policy on Pakistan and J&K is inconsistency. It appears that Congress leaders are not guided by national interest but political opportunism. Why is Congress trying to exonerate Pakistan? I appeal them to be sensitive, realistic, and act and speak accordingly." 

In response to Naidu's jibe at the Congress, the Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, said that his remarks were "unwarranted, irresponsible and most unfortunate."

Congress, in Govt or outside, has been clear on the need to fight terrorism and also the terror syndicate that operates from Pakistan. That's why we asked prime minister to tell the nation and opposition leaders about the understanding reached between him and Nawaz Sharif," Sharma said.

He questioned the prime minister on what assurances were given by Sharif to show that Pakistan supported the peace process. He blamed the terror attacks in Gurdaspur, Udhampur, Pathankot and the unrest in Kashmir on Narendra Modi's "incoherent engagements with Pakistan."

We want to make it clear, Kashmir is an integral part of India. Real issue is of Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Why is the government trying to divide the country on such a sensitive issue?" he asked.

Sharma also disassociated from Singh's comments, saying that "individual comments and observations shouldn't be misrepresented as Congress lacking clarity and firmness in its position."