Article 370 scrapped: Opposition split wide open as BJP ally breaks ranks

"Today, the BJP has murdered the Constitution"

kashmir-article-370-ap People shout slogans as they celebrate after the government scrapped the special status of Kashmir, in Ahmedabad | Reuters

The Opposition stood divided in its reaction to the Centre's sudden move to scrap Article 370 and bring in a bill for bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, with parties such as the BSP, the BJD, the AIADMK and the AAP breaking ranks to come out in support of the government's stunning move.

The parties which opposed the bill include the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the DMK, the left parties, the RJD, the Samajwadi Party and the MDMK. Also, on expected lines, the parties with bearings in the Kashmir valley—the PDP and the National Conference—attacked the government over the development.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, charged the government with murdering the Constitution. “We stand by the Constitution of India. We will safeguard the Constitution of India with our lives. But, today, the BJP has murdered the Constitution,” Azad said.

Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav, speaking in the Rajya Sabha, said Article 370 cannot be removed through a resolution, but an amendment. “It is part of the Constitution. If it has to be removed, the Constitution has to be amended,” he said. However, the SP stayed away from the Opposition MPs' protest in the upper house on the issue.

MDMK leader Vaiko said, “You have played with the sentiments of the people of Kashmir. When additional army personnel were deployed there, I was worried. Kashmir should not become Kosovo, East Timor and South Sudan.”

The Kashmir parties PDP and the NC spoke out strongly against the government's sudden action on Jammu and Kashmir. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said the move will have “catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent”. She said the government wants the territory of J&K by terrorising its people. “India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises,” she said.

NC's Omar Abdullah said the scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A raised fundamental questions on the state's accession because that was done on the very terms enunciated in these Articles. In a statement, he said the government has resorted to deceit and stealth.

However, the Opposition was split wide open on the decision to abrogate Article 370 and carve out two union territories out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The BSP was unequivocal in its support to the government on the measures. Senior leader Satish Mishra said in the Rajya Sabha, “Our party gives complete support. We want that the bill be passed. Our party is not expressing any opposition”.

The BJD too came out in support of the government, with its MP Prasanna Acharya saying, “In the real sense today, Jammu and Kashmir has become a part of India. My party supports this resolution. We are a regional party, but, for us, nation is first.”

AIADMK MP A. Navaneethakrishnan said in support of the government's move, “Amma [former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa] is well known for upholding sovereignty and integrity. So AIADMK party supports the two resolutions, Reorganisation Bill and the Reservation Bill.”

AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “We support the govt on its decisions on J&K. We hope this will bring peace and development in the state”.

NDA ally JD(U) stood out for its opposition to the government's moves on Jammu and Kashmir, with its leader K.C. Tyagi saying, “Our party is not supporting the bill moved in the Rajya Sabha today. Article 370 should not be revoked.” The JD(U) MPs staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha against the government's move to scrap Article 370 and bifurcate the state.