Prime minister Narendra Modi in an interview with CNN News18.

Modi claimed that Article 35A and Article 370 that gives autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir of the constitution had prevented outside investment and job creation in the state

New Delhi: Blaming Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have better handled the issue and the Valley would not have remained ‘mired in controversy’.

In an exclusive interview with News18 Network’s Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi, Modi said earlier governments had fallen short in dealing with militancy in the Kashmir valley.

“The (Kashmir) problem is an old one. Perhaps if Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had handled it, we would not be in the situation we find ourselves in today. He would have found a solution, like he did with (the annexation of) Junagadh and the Nizam” the Prime Minister said.

“But Pandit Nehru kept this issue to himself, and since then it has been mired in controversy,” he added.

Further targeting the first Prime Minister of India, Modi said Nehru’s decisions in regard with Jammu and Kashmir stood in the way of the state’s progress to this day.

Modi claimed that the Article 35A — that provides special rights and privileges to its permanent citizens — and Article 370 — that gives autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir — of the constitution had prevented outside investment and job creation in the state.

“No one goes there to invest. We can build IIMs in Kashmir, but professors are not ready to go there because their children won’t get admissions in schools, they won’t find homes. This,” Modi said, “ends up harming the interests of Jammu and Kashmir. Pandit Nehru’s policies stand as an obstacle for the state today. We need a re-look.”

He added that it was imperative that people in the rest of the country see ‘the progress’ in Kashmir. “Kashmiris have excelled in sports and competitive exams. Any top university today has Kashmiri students. We must encourage this.”

Modi also said the conflict in Kashmir valley was limited to just ‘Dhai’ (two and half districts, and the state largely remained stable under the BJP government. “There is no problem in Ladakh and Jammu. It is only two-and-a-half districts in Kashmir valley where there is a problem. We see these districts as the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. This narrative must change,” Modi said.

Modi claimed the BJP government had continued spending on development in the valley and had dealt with the state in a fair manner. “India has not done anything that should make Kashmir feel neglected or ill-treated. But we must treat this issue with sensitivity and understanding.”

Modi’s statement on Kashmir and Articles 35A and 370 also reiterated his party’s age-old stand on the issue that was featured yet again in the BJP’s election manifesto that released on Monday. In its manifesto, the BJP maintained the position it has held since the time of the Jan Sangh on the abrogation of Article 370 and on the annulment of Article 35A, which the party says is discriminatory against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir.

Patel, the deputy to Nehru, was tasked with integrating the various self-governed princely states and British colonial provinces into the newly-independent India. His uncompromising stance on the accession of those regions earned him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India.”

The current government has often targeted Nehru and his policies and several BJP leaders have made disparaging statements with respect to the former Prime Minister and Congress leader.