National Conference Chief Farooq Abdullah on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot remove Article 35A and Article 370 that grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported.

“Let him be as powerful as he [Modi] likes, he cannot remove Article 370 and Article 35A [from the state of Jammu and Kashmir],” Abdullah said. He said instead of dividing the country, the prime minister should make efforts to unite the people.

“Our right of Article 370 and Article 35-A should be protected,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said. “ This is very important for us. We are soldiers of this country not enemies of this nation.”

Abdullah’s party National Conference won all three seats in the Kashmir valley while the Bharatiya Janata Party retained three seats of Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh after the election results were announced on Thursday.

The controversy over the special constitutional position of Jammu and Kashmir became important in this election, more so after the BJP, in its election manifesto, announced they would scrap Articles 370 and 35A.

“Let them do it [repeal Article 370] we will see. I will see who is ready to hoist their flag here,” Abdullah had said after release of the BJP manifesto. “You think by removing Article 35A, you will usurp our rights. Will we take this lying down? We will fight it.”

Farooq Abdullah had made Kashmir’s special status the main agenda of his poll campaign. His son and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah too had cautioned the BJP against repealing the Constitutional provisions.

There were also strong reactions to this from other political leaders. Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti said that abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution would lead to Jammu and Kashmir’s “freedom” from India. “If you free Jammu and Kashmir from Article 370, you will free the state from country as well,” she had said.

Article 370 of the Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws concerning the state. It came into force in 1950. Article 35A grants special rights and privileges pertaining to jobs, and property ownership, among other things, to those defined as “permanent residents” of the state.