Rajat Sharma

Modi, Amit Shah deserve credit for heralding a new era in Kashmir

akbThe historic passage of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill and the resolution to scrap Article 370 of Constitution that had granted special status to J&K heralds the beginning of a new era. It was a proud moment when 370 members of Lok Sabha voted in favour of the J&K Reorganisation Bill, and 366 LS members voted in support of the resolution to scrap Art. 370. A major historic blunder committed nearly 70 years ago now stands rectified.

Kudos to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for working tirelessly in bringing about the safe passage of these landmark legislative measures in Parliament. This could not have been possible without a strong political will, undaunted courage and careful precision shown by Modi and Shah in bring about structural change in the history and geography of a turbulent region.

For 70 long years, the nation was being ‘warned’ by so-called Kashmir ‘experts’ about the perils of scrapping Article 370 from the Indian Constitution. None of the previous Prime Ministers had the courage and political will to take this drastic step that had bedevilled the lives of several generations of people living in Jammu & Kashmir.

Modi and Amit Shah not only scrapped this Article but did so in such a smooth manner that no less than three-fourths of the members present in Lok Sabha supported the step. Nearly two-thirds of members in Rajya Sabha supported the landmark legislative measures.

Till 11 am on Monday morning, nobody, except a handful of persons, had the slightest inkling of what was going to happen about the future of Kashmir. It was a tightly, closely guarded secret known only to a select few.

Credit goes to Home Minister Amit Shah, who after becoming a Union Minister for the first time, deftly handled the debates in both Houses of Parliament on such a crucial legislative step. Nowhere was it evident that he was a first-timer central minister unable to tackle the flow of debate. Amit Shah skillfully replied to each and every question raised by members in both Houses.

The Opposition failed in both Houses to cite a single valid advantage of Article 370. On the other hand, Amit Shah outlined a plethora of advantages that will accrue to the people of J&K, which they had been deprived of over the years because of Article 370. Education, jobs, panchayati raj, central welfare schemes, sale and purchase of properties, new industries were some of the major advantages that Shah outlined in his speeches.

The political arguments put forth by three former J&K chief ministers, Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad did not hold water, because their present statements were totally at variance with what they had said earlier. After forging a failed coalition government with BJP three years ago, it was Mehbooba who had once said that Modi was the only leader who can solve the Kashmir problem.

A news channel showed how Farooq Abdullah was coming out of a hotel in Srinagar on Tuesday, instead of attending the historic debate in Lok Sabha. Farooq later lied to mediapersons from the balcony of his house by alleging that he was under custody. This was promptly denied inside the Lok Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah, who said he had spoken to the state police DGP and the former CM was neither under house arrest nor in custody.

The historic steps on Kashmir also exposed in public the rift among the Congress leaders. Senior leaders like Janardan Dwivedi, Deepender Hooda, Manish Tewari, Pradip Bhattacharya and Milind Deora refused to toe the high command’s official line on Kashmir. Hearing Manish Tewari, none could understand whether he was supporting or opposing the legislative measures. All this happened even as Sonia Gandhi was silently watching.

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