The debate in Rajya Sabha on Monday over the statutory resolution to extend President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir involved long discussions on history of the country, with members of Opposition accusing the BJP of deliberately delaying Assembly elections in the state.
The opposition accused the government of running the government in Jammu and Kashmir through President’s rule and commented that though Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks of ‘One Nation, One Election’, Assembly elections in the state were not held with the recent General Election. The 27 members who spoke during the discussion were also discussing a Bill to provide reservations to families who live along the International Border in Jammu.
Initiating the debate, Congress member Viplove Thakur said, “Why can’t you clearly say that ‘our motive has not been fulfilled’.” She said that people in Jammu and Kashmir want to join mainstream, and urged the government to not “divide” the state and to “keep the democracy alive”.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, called former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru one of the heroes for Kashmir’s accession to India, along with Sheikh Abdullah, the founder of the National Conference. Azad, who spoke for nearly an hour, provided details of the situation at the time of accession and how raiders from Pakistan had taken control of large territories of the state when Nehru sent forces to regain control, and Abdullah created a militia of 10,000 people to defend the people. He said that “a lot of things in our country are said by telling the wrong history”.
BJP’s claim of zero tolerance on terrorism, Azad said, is “tough to swallow” as in recent past, the “highest number of soldiers” and highest number of civilians have died in the state. He also accused BJP, first in alliance with PDP in the state for three years, then through the President’s rule, of not taking “any confidence-building measures” in the state.
“Stop running the government from Delhi,” the Congress leader told the treasury benches, adding that “this will be the biggest confidence building measure”. On the topic of reservations for people living along the International Border, Azad suggested that the reservation be increased to five or six per cent.
Derek O’Brien of the TMC said that Home Minister Amit Shah should “give an assurance that he will not touch parties run by three families”, as Shah had commented on just three families running the Jammu and Kashmir government since it became a part of India. The country today, the TMC leader said, “is run by two families”.
CPI(M) leader K K Ragesh said the youth of the state had joined terror outfits “because of alienation”. He charged the treasury benches of “using the Kashmir issue to divide on communal lines” and “utilising terror for jingoistic nationalism”.
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that the President’s rule was imposed in haste. He said BJP had made a mistake by joining PDP in alliance, which he said was “unnatural and bound to fail”.
Several Opposition leaders asked the government why the Assembly elections were not held with the General Election, and also criticised the government for using the ordinance route for major decisions and not taking the Parliament into confidence.
Prasanna Acharya of the BJD asked the government to clarify if the Bills passed on reservation would need to be ratified by the state government.
The Bill and the resolution, which had been passed by the Lok Sabha last week, were passed by the Rajya Sabha unanimously through a voice vote on Monday.