WHILE THE Congress targeted the BJP government in Rajya Sabha for scrapping special status to J&K and bifurcating the state into two Union territories, there were differing voices within the party outside Parliament.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “I never thought that a day would come when my state, which is India’s head… that head will be chopped off… It is not merely a head or a crown… It borders with Pakistan, China and PoK. We had to fight a war with China and three-four wars with Pakistan. While our Army protected our borders, the people of J&K… J&K’s mainstream political parties stood with the Army and fought Pakistan and China.”
“In such border states… till the time the people are not with you… you may keep fighting for 1,000 years… you will not reach anywhere. You are seeing that in Afghanistan… But here, why are we successful in every war? Because our people who are nationalists, who wanted to live in India and chose India… they always gave information to our security forces,” he said.
“Maharaja Hari Singh entered into the accession treaty to be with India… Despite being of the same religion, the people of Kashmir too did not demand to be with Pakistan… they made India their home…they were ready to live with India’s Hindu brothers and not Pakistan’s Muslims…That was their trust. You have betrayed that trust,” he said.
“We have been seeing the plight of the Chief Minister of Puducherry… a Lt Governor is not allowing him to work…” he said.
Party leader P Chidambaram called it a “black day”. “Momentarily, you think you have scored a victory. The drum beats that you will hear on the streets will certainly encourage you to believe that you have scored a signal victory, or, as one of the members said, you have corrected, a so-called injustice of history. You are wrong, and history will prove you to be wrong and future generations will realise what a grave mistake this House is making today,” he said.
“Article 370 enables you to modify such other provisions in the Constitution. It is beyond my comprehension how Article 370 order can be used to modify Article 370,” he said, adding, “you are unleashing forces which you cannot control.”
“…an overwhelming majority in J&K don’t want secession, don’t want to leave the Union of India… I fear… that you are pushing thousands and thousands of young men from this column to join the other column of a few hundreds,” he said.
“What you are doing to J&K can be done to any other state… All you have to do is dismiss an elected government, dissolve the state legislature, promulgate President’s Rule, declare Parliament to be the state legislature for the time being and divide the state… But, I think, in doing it for J&K, you have made a fatal legal error,” he said.
However, outside Parliament, veteran party leader Janardan Dwivedi said a “mistake” had been “rectified”. “It is not a new issue… Ever since Independence, many of the freedom fighters had been demanding that Article 370 should be removed… An Independence-era mistake has been rectified and it is a matter of national satisfaction,” he said.
“Many freedom fighters, including Ram Manohar Lohia under whom my political training began, talked of abrogation of Article 370 from the very beginning. During our student and youth movement days, we used to speak against this. So, I naturally felt it is correct. There are issues about which many people held opposite views, but when the time for reckoning came they kept quiet. I feel in this issue also, people will slowly get silent,” he said.
Asked why the previous governments had not done it, he said “I am not going to blame anyone.”
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi called it a “legally flawed but politically astute decision.” He tweeted that in his “personal capacity”, it was hard to oppose the move, although it was indefensible legally. Asked about his tweets, Singhvi said the move is “legally, totally flawed”, done with “zero consultation and sleight of hand.”
“But I do concede that politically, it may get Modi lots of votes outside of J&K, because there is an emotive feeling he has created. But whether that should be the underlying policy decision is a question mark,” he said.
Former Lok Sabha MP Deepender Hooda tweeted that Article 370 has no relevance in the 21st century and hoped the government would implement its decision in an atmosphere of peace and trust, but he later deleted his tweet. He then rephrased the tweet, with more emphasis on his advice to the government.
Jaiveer Shergill, another Congress national spokesperson, tweeted: “My personal point of view: I support abrogation of Art 370… but only in accordance with provisions & methodology provided by the Constitution of India which mandates consent of J&K state assembly…”