The Modi government on Monday delivered on what has been one of BJP’s longest-pending demands and has been on its agenda and that of its predecessor Jana Sangh for 68 years.
Repeal of Article 370 and abrogation of Article 35 (A) were also promises of the BJP in its 2019 poll manifesto and the Modi government has moved with speed to fulfil them.
The scrapping of controversial Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws concerning the state, has been a key ideological demand and a core issue of the BJP.
The Modi government seized an early opportunity with Jammu and Kashmir under President’s Rule. Several top militants were eliminated and the government had demonstrated its political will to act against cross-border terrorism through surgical strike on terror launch pads in 2016 and carried out an aerial strike on a terror camp earlier this year.
The government created history on Monday by getting a resolution passed in the Rajya Sabha for repealing Article 370 and a bill for making Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as union territories. The repeal of Article 370 will also lead to the scrapping of Article 35(A) which deals with the issue of ‘permanent resident’.
The government has fulfilled the demand in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha and in over 60 days of assuming office. It brought about the momentous changes with a sense of surprise with opposition parties also not getting to know about it till the very last.
The BJP and the party-led National Democratic Alliance government getting better majority compared to 2014 made the task easier.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the run-up to this year’s Lok Sabha elections, had said that Article 370 and 35A have done maximum damage to Jammu and Kashmir.
He has also indicated that he will not shy away from taking tough decisions in the interest of the state and the country.
The decision on the bill and resolution have wide political significance with assembly elections due in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand later this year. Elections may also be held in Jammu and Kashmir later this year.
The decisions are expected to help the BJP reinforce its plank of nationalism which paid it good dividends in the Lok Sabha elections. They are also expected to enhance Modi’s image as a decision-maker and performer. Home Minister Amit Shah will now move the bill and resolution for passage in the Lok Sabha.
Scrapping Article 370 is linked to the death of the party’s ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee who had founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh.
Mookerjee had termed Article 370 as “Balkanisation of India” and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh had launched an agitation to remove it.
Mookerjee went to visit Kashmir in 1953 and was arrested on May 11 while crossing the border. He died as a detenu on June 23, 1953, for the cause of integrating Kashmir with the rest of India.
He was detained for 45 days for violating Article 370 and his death in prison shook the country and the Permit System was ended.
The slogan of the time “ek desh me do vidhan, do nishan and no pradan nahi chalenge, nahi chalenge” (two constitutions, two symbols in the country will not work), is among key slogans of BJP workers. (ANI)