Indian media: Narendra Modi's call to 'debate' Kashmir status

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi, addresses supporters during a rally in Jammu, India, Sunday, Dec.1, 2013.
Image caption Narendra Modi is the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate for next year's election

Media in India are discussing the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's call for a "debate" on the special status given to Indian-administered Kashmir.

Mr Modi recently said there was a need to assess the benefits of Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

The article grants special autonomous status to Indian-administered Kashmir.

The BJP has traditionally opposed the special status given to Kashmir Valley, but Mr Modi's remarks signal a possible "dilution" in the party's stand.

"The BJP's stated position all along has been to scrap the provision so Mr Modi's remarks have created speculation that the party may be having a rethink on the subject," the Hindustan Times says.

The Indian Express wonders if the BJP leader is "moderating his party's position on Article 370, or reiterating it"?

"It is possible that Mr Modi's offer of a 'debate' on Article 370 was not intended as an open question, after all, but to reassert the party's position on the article as one that undermines the organic unity of India, and to foreclose the other view," it further says.

The BJP later said there was no change in its stand on the issue.

The Asian Age also feels Mr Modi has not taken a different line.

"While he sought to give the impression that he wanted to initiate a debate on whether this provision should remain or go, he also pointed to what he considered the downside of continuing with this clause that enabled the smooth integration of the former princely state with the Indian Union. Mr Modi made it clear, therefore, which side of the debate he was on," the paper says.

The Times of India, however, sees Mr Modi's call for a debate as "a much more sensible and desirable position" compared to his party's opposition to the Article 370.

Buddhist festival

Meanwhile, political parties in the Indian capital have wrapped up their campaigns ahead of Tuesday's state assembly polls, reports say.

"A total of about 10.2 million Delhi residents will vote at 11,992 polling booths on 4 December to elect a new government. The 2008 elections had recorded 58.6% voting turnout," the Hindustan Times says.

Analysts have predicted a three-way contest between the ruling Congress party, opposition BJP and the new Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party.

All three parties are encouraging Delhi residents to step out and vote.

Elsewhere, a fake twitter account of President Pranab Mukherjee "tricked" many social media users, including well-know public figures, on Monday , the India Today website reports.

"On 1 December, the virtual world was abuzz with reports of the country's first citizen joining the social network site as a Twitter handle @POIndia, which claimed to be the official Twitter account of the President of India, made a brief appearance on the site," the website says.

Though there was no official response from the president's office, the prime minister's office later termed the account "fake".

And finally, a large number of foreign visitors have gathered in the city of Bodh Gaya for a Buddhist festival, the Hindustan Times reports.

"The message of world peace reverberated in Bodh Gaya when 2,719 delegates from different countries congregated for the ninth Tripitaka (holy text of Buddhists) chanting ceremony - a 10-day event - at the Mahabodhi Mahavihara temple on Monday," the paper says.

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