New Delhi, June 28: Union Home Minister Amit Shah stirred the political pot on Friday, asserting in the Lok Sabha that Article 370, that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was a temporary provision of the Constitution even as he held the Congress responsible for problems in the state.
Shah’s remark, made during his reply to the discussion on extension of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir and the legislation on extending reservation to people living along the international border in the state, was seen as a statement of the BJP’s commitment to its core issue of abrogation of Article 370 which has been on the backburner.
There was mixed reaction within the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with Aaditya Thackeray of Shiv Sena hailing Shah for taking a strong position in Parliament.
“Extremely happy to hear the stand taken by Amit Shah Ji on Jammu and Kashmir saying that Article 370 is only temporary and the stand on J&K has not changed. Proud today to see a strong home ministry taking a bold stand on Jammu and Kashmir,” he tweeted.
The Congress said that the government tried to obfuscate and run away from the situation prevailing in the state.
Congress leader Manish Tewari questioned the government over seeking extension of President’s rule if, as it claims, the situation was normal in the state.
Shah began his stint in the Home Ministry with a firm focus on Jammu and Kashmir as Governor Satya Pal Malik was one of the first to meet him. He has held comprehensive security review meetings.
Shah informed Parliament that all the requirements put forth by by the security establishment have been cleared.
The first bill brought by his ministry in Parliament was the amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Bill extending the benefits of reservation to people living along the international border in the state.
The bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on Friday, will benefit 3.5 lakh people living in the Jammu region, also comprising Sambha and Kathua. The people will get three per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions in line with those living along the Line of Control (LoC) due to hardships because of shelling from across the border.
“Mein maanta hun 370 hai, aap asthayi shabd bhool gaye hein, ye asthayi hai permanent nahi hai…370 hamare samvidhan ka asthayi mudda hai ye yaad rakhiyega. (I agree there is Article 370, but you have forgotten the word temporary before it. Please remember Article 370 is a temporary issue),” said Shah, adding that it happened with the concurrence of late Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah.
Before making his point, Shah blamed the Congress and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the problems in the state and for creating trust deficit with the people.
Shah said that the Modi government is working for the development of the state and for the first time gave due importance to Jammu and Ladakh regions. He said the Modi government was committed to preserve democracy in the state.
Along with Article 370, the BJP is also opposed to Article 35(A) that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state’s permanent residents.