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Challenge to special status

BhartiyaJanata Party (BJP) has reiterated its commitment to undo the Article 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution should the party make it to power again. The promise to do away with Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under these constitutional provisions was made in the election manifesto the BJP released on Monday. Prime Minister NarendraModi released the 45-page manifesto titled “Sankalpit Bharat, Sashakt Bharat” in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah and other top leaders of the party, including Rajnath Singh, SushmaSwaraj and ArunJaitley. The electioneering is already at high pitch with all the political parties promising moon to the voters to woo them to their fold. The rightwing Hindu extremist party has also promised to bring back Kashmiri Pandits who had fled from the valley in 1990 after the eruption of armed struggle against Indian rule in the state. Construction of Ram Mandir at the Babri mosque site is another promise the BJP has made to the voters. This is not something new that the BJP has come up with. It is a culture in political parties to make unrealistic promises during elections. But once they assume power they realize the complexities and complicacies of their promises. The BJP in 2014 general elections also made the same promises but could fulfil even one of them. The voters have every right to ask the BJP what stopped it from fulfilling the promises it made in 2014. It is not that the BJP was not serious about its promises but it is rather the intricacies involved in implementing these promises. The BJP knows it for a fact that the party cannot and can never be able to implement these poll promises. It is no less than insult to the people of India to promise them again what it has already failed for. The party knows that peoples’ memory is short-lived. The events and incidents occur at such a pace that people little remember what has passed on yesterday. They are always more concerned about today or tomorrow. Taking advantage of this weakness, BJP has come up again false promises. It is sheer emotional blackmailing.

Article 370 and 35-A are constitutional guarantees given to Jammu and Kashmir at the time of the state’s accession to India. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India that did not merge with India but acceded to it under certain conditions. Though much of those conditions have been eroded but the basic frame in the shape of Article 370 and 35-A still exists. It is these constitutional provisions which make India’s relations with Jammu and Kashmir legal. Once these constitutional provisions are repealed, India’s legal claim on the state too becomes invalid. In constitutional terms, India’s position in Jammu and Kashmir becomes that of an occupier. It is for this fact that the successive governments in India did not try to disturb this relationship. Former Chief Minister and National Conference patriarch Dr Farooq Abdullah is right in claim that the abolition of Article 370 would mean “azadi” from India for Jammu and Kashmir. Both the constitutional provisions are facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court on the petitions by some Hindutwa institutions and individuals. Jammu and Kashmir High Court has already termed the Article 370 of Indian constitution as ‘permanent’ which cannot be repealed or amended. BJP and its extremist allies understand that the challenge to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir could not withstand before the law. It is for this fact they are making political noises on it. The voters of India should ask questions to the BJP why it could not repeal these constitutional provisions in the past five years. BJP needs to be bluffed before it thinks of making the people fool again.