Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday reminded Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that the Indian Constitution extended to the state through Article 370, and that removing the guarantees provided in the Constitution would “force us to reconsider whether we would like to continue with you or not”.
On Thursday, Jaitley wrote in a blog: “Article 35A, which is constitutionally vulnerable, is used as a political shield by many but it hurt the common citizen of the State the most.”
Addressing party workers in Srinagar, Mufti said, “The mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir have to consider under what law they are going to contest these elections. Because the Indian Constitution extends to J&K through Article 370. If you remove this bridge, then how will you take oath upon the Constitution of India?”
She warned that J&K’s relationship with India would have to be rebuilt, based on fresh conditions. “Are you ready to set fresh conditions for joining the Indian Union (if Article 370 is abrogated)? Perhaps we will have to decide again, whether we want to stay with you or not? Under what conditions will you ask a Muslim-majority state to join India?”
Jaitley, she said, needed to understand “that this is not easy, and if you remove Article 370, your connect with J&K is also over”.
On Friday, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah had questioned Jaitley’s assertion that Article 35A has been “hurting” the interests of the common people by blocking the economic development of J&K. He had said that J&K was a part of India “based on this special status”.
“It is absolutely wrong to create this perception that the issues of the state are because of 35A. This state is part of the country based on this special status,” he had said.
Senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar has accused the BJP of trying to convert the constitutional relationship between J&K and the Union “into an occupation through subterfuge and systemic subversion”.