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Miffed Allies, Unlikely Supporters as Parties Break Ranks Over Repeal of Article 370

The Narendra Modi government found support from unlikely quarters as the BSP and the Aam Aadmi Party welcomed the step.


Updated:August 5, 2019, 6:10 PM IST
Miffed Allies, Unlikely Supporters as Parties Break Ranks Over Repeal of Article 370
Amit Shah addressing the Lok Sabha.

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government’s decision to repeal Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir saw parties break ranks as Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) pledged its unequivocal support to the move, while ally JD(U) decided to boycott the bill, saying the BJP should look at building consensus.

Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement in the Rajya Sabha saw uproarious scenes as several opposition parties termed the scrapping of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir a “black blot”. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the state's head, considered India's crown, has been "chopped off" and its identity removed.

Various parties such as the Congress, TMC, DMK, NCP, RJD, SP, MDMK and Left parties opposed the said resolution as well as a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories.

“You have made light of the state of J&K," Azad said, charging it was a 'matter of shame' that the Centre had reduced the state to a non-entity with Lt Governor's rule. "It will be a black blot on India's history when this Bill is passed (in Parliament)," Azad said.

He said an "atom bomb" exploded in the House when the Home Minister spoke on Monday, claiming that the "state was being removed from the map of India" by being bifurcated and converted into a Union Territory.

Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress described it as "Black Monday" and a dark day for the country's Constitution, the idea of India, and the Rajya Sabha.

Opposing the Bill, Manoj Kumar Jha of RJD said the (abolition of) Article 370 was not possible to execute in this lifetime. Today we have opened the gates for Kashmir to turn into Palestine in five years, Jha alleged.

Tiruchi Siva of the DMK said the move was unconstitutional as the Constitution says that only the Assembly of the state should decide on such crucial issues. The architects of the Constitution had given powers in this regard only to the state Assembly and the Central government has made this move when the elected Assembly is not in place, Siva said.

The government, however, found support from unlikely quarters as the BSP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) welcomed the step.

Explaining the BSP’s call, Satish Mishra said: "It's not just Jammu and Kashmir that has minority Muslim community. The Muslims from there can go to other parts of the country and buy property there. But the minority communities from around the country can't do the same. This is why we have decided to support the Bill."

The decision of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal — who has time and again clashed with the Centre over the issue of statehood for the Capital — to support the government's move to repeal articles 370 and 35A and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir didn't surprise many within the Aam Aadmi Party.

An AAP leader, on the condition of anonymity, said: "There are elections in Delhi. This is an issue that is linked to the rise of nationalism in the country and Delhi isn't immune to it. By attacking Modi over this move, AAP will effectively ensure that it has no chance in the state elections." However, many within the party said Kejriwal’s support reflected a change in his stand and not that of the party.

Others who supported the government’s move were the TDP, YSRCP, BJD and the AIADMK.

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