On Wednesday, the state of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed an interesting and entertaining political drama. The J&K Governor Satyapal Malik dissolved the state assembly on Wednesday evening. Before that, the National Conference, Peoples’ Democratic Party, and the Congress came together to stake claim for forming government in Jammu and Kashmir. The state has been under Governor’s rule since June, after the BJP withdrew its support from the ruling alliance headed by Mehbooba Mufti.
Governor Malik justified his move by saying he dissolved the assembly due to “The impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies” and “Reports of extensive horse trading and possible exchange of money in order to secure the support of legislators”.
What could be the reason that brought arch rivals Mehbooba Mufti and the National Conference along with the Congress on the same boat? One probable reason behind coming together of these starkly contrasting ideologies could be ARTICLE 35A.
In fact, following the Central government’s plea to reconsider the decision regarding Article 35A after the local polls, the NC and PDP had boycotted the municipal cum panchayat polls in the state.
Article 35A of the Indian constitution is a discriminatory article which prevents people from other states to buy property in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is nothing but a symbol of exploitation and oppression. Elites and politicians of Kashmir valley of J&K have exploited this discriminatory article in the best of their interest. While the poor people of the state suffered, elites of the valley prospered. Article 35A has only contributed in encouraging alienation, deepening the concept of separate identity and creating a political gap between Jammu & Kashmir and the rest of India.
This exclusionary article was one of the main reasons behind BJP’s decision to withdraw its support from the ruling alliance of the BJP and PDP. But it seems that the Congress has no qualms against this article which is against the ethos of the Union of India.
Talking to the Tribune over the phone, the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said, “This alliance is born out of necessity to “safeguard the interests of the state”, particularly in reference to Article 35A of the Constitution that confers special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the state.” She further added, “Nobody was taking the issue seriously. The date of the hearing (January next year) is drawing closer and the Governor’s administration was doing nothing to defend it. In our times, we had hired prominent constitutional experts to defend the Article in the Supreme Court, but now it appeared that things were being taken casually.”
The stand of PDP and NC is quite clear on Article 35A. They are not in favor of abrogation of the Article 35A. In September this year, J&K Congress Chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir had said, “If Congress is voted to power, we will build consensus to address the concerns as per legislation of the state. We will safeguard Article 35A.” Earlier, in August 2017, according to the Outlook report, the Congress leader Tariq Hamid Karra said that he has been assured of “All-out moral and political support to the people of Jammu & Kashmir by Congress high command and opposition Leaders at all levels and in all manners to protect Article 35A from any kind of tinkering or attempt for its abrogation.”
The Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A is scheduled to be held in January next year. The unholy get-together of the three dynasty parties is nothing but a nefarious ploy to put pressure on the Centre on Article 35A issue. This unholy coalition is not in the interest of democracy or people of J&K but undoubtedly against it.