Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP TR Baalu on Tuesday criticised Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s bill to hollow out the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in the Lok Sabha, saying that it “does not reflect the will of the people”. Article 370 is a provision that gave the state of Jammu & Kashmir special status and autonomy. Another legislation proposed to divide the state into two Union Territories: Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh.
“Only by virtue of brute majority, these bills are passed every day,” Baalu said, in a sharp attack on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. “What’s the end result? What are you trying to achieve by passing so many Bills?”
The Union government should have arranged for assembly elections to be held in Jammu & Kashmir along with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and consulted the state government before bringing in any changes to Article 370, Baalu said.
He added that the bill will not solve the problem of crossborder infiltration. “Management of borders is more important,” he said. “Our people should live in peace. There is no cause for this bill, hence I cannot support it.”
Another DMK MP, Dayanidhi Maran, raised a point of order to inquire why Jammu & Kashmir National Conference MP Farooq Abdullah was absent from the House.
“Farooq Abdullah is missing,” Maran told Speaker Om Birla. “He has been arrested. You are the Speaker, you should be neutral.”
Earlier, Home Minister Amit Shah had said that Abdullah was not under detention. However, in an interview with NDTV, Abdullah stated that he was under house arrest.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor explained why his party had called the BJP’s move a “dark day for India’s democracy”. “This is blatant disregard for the letter and spirit of our Constitution,” Tharoor said.
He also clarified the Congress’s position on the issue, saying that “there is no political divide on the proposition that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India”. But the manner in which this claim has been pursued by the BJP has caused “serious damage to our credibility as a nation of laws and democracy”.
Tharoor called the decision the “political equivalent of demonetisation”, saying that it shows a “disdain for liberty and the rule of law”.