No room for reconciliation
The rightwing BJP issued its election manifesto and the party without any hesitation has reiterated its commitment to repeal Article 370, which gives Jammu and Kashmir a special status, and Article 35A, which allows the state’s legislature to define permanent residents.
The party has been making Article 370 and 35A as a pivot to get its political ideas accepted among the masses and this time around too it did not waste a moment to spell what it intends to do with the Kashmir issue.
BJP has been arguing that it is committed to overcome all obstacles that come in the way of the state’s development and to provide adequate financial resources to all its regions. The party said in its manifesto that its position since the erstwhile Jan Sangh days has been for abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India. It also termed the Article 35A as discriminatory against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir.
The party has always advocated abrogation of Article 370 and has also been speaking against Article 35A, but its renewed pitch during elections assumes significance. BJP has for all practical purposes made it an open secret that the party plans to get a majority in both houses of the parliament and then the special provisions granted to Jammu and Kashmir will be done away with.
The BJP’s rant is obviously been opposed by the state’s political parties which includes its erstwhile partners like the PDP and the National Conference.
These parties are vehemently opposed to any attempt to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A. Even the Congress in its manifesto has promised to maintain the constitutional status quo on the matter.
The regional parties say that the Article 35A is a matter of faith and dignity for the people of the state through which the Constitution of India guarantees to safeguard the special identity and unique status of Jammu & Kashmir. These leaders are making a point that states in northeastern region and even Himachal Pradesh have laws prohibiting non-locals from purchasing land, but it is only J&K’s special status that is always talked about.
Annulling the special provisions that are made available to Jammu and Kashmir will have serious repercussion for the state. The state is presently going through a rough phase and the hostility and retaliation will increase many folds if the BJP will go ahead with its plans about the special provisions.
The issue assumes a greater significance in view of the fact that the state is ruled by the centre directly as right now the Presidents rule has been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. If the BJP is mulling to go ahead with its plans it still needs to get the state government on board.
And for that the state needs to go for fresh elections and get a locally elected government in place so that it will decide about the special provisions being granted to Jammu and Kashmir. Taking a one sided decision does not augur well for democratic principles and it at all the people’s will matters, the BJP needs to do a rethink on its plans.
After all one has to take the local sentiments into account and also leave some room for reconciliation as well. This is the basic governing principle for democracies and this needs to be followed in Jammu and Kashmir as well.