Intro: BJP's communication cell has started a debate on Article 370 to see if the provisions of the Article mandate that J&K's special status should be temporary or permanent.
Starting from the announcement of the election schedule, the political parties of Jammu and Kashmir are working hard to allure people. Parties with some issue in hand have something to talk to the people whereas others like Congress and National Conference (NC) have to cook up the issues before going to the public.
After their rule of six years in coalition, the Congress party and NC has nothing to show to the people of the state. Therefore one can find them mostly limited to misguiding people about the Article 370 or Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).
These parties heartily want the elections issues to be limited to the Article 370 and AFSPA. Time and again NC chief and the incumbent chief minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, is found shouting from the high platforms of the election rallies demanding BJP to clear its stand on Article 370. Leaders of Congress and NC tell people that BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not clear their stand on the Article 370.
It is not hidden that the Modi and his party have been emphasising on a debate to objectively examine the effect of the controversial Article 370 on the issues directly related to the people. Clearly and unambiguously, the Prime Minister has been saying it even before he came to New Delhi to head the government. After all debating is scientific, unmasking and it’s the way least doubted.
Now we have to understand the tactic of the NC and the Congress behind their rhetoric on controversial Article. The population of Hindus in the Kashmir Valley has been reduced to approximately 0% during the ruling of the NC in the state and Congress at the centre. Jammu and Ladakh have undergone severe demographic changes to comply with hardcore Sunni Muslims outfits. Till date the state is ruled by the Sunnis only and it has become the most communal state of India. Hence, why the Constitution of Jammu Kashmir has not been made secular by inducting the word secular in the preamble of state constitution, the ruling elite would be forced to answer if a discussion/debate on Article 370 starts.
Shiite Muslims, the Gujjar and Bakarwal Muslims, Pathowari-speaking Muslims, Hindus/Sikhs Buddhists and Christians have been tactically marginalized in government jobs and decision making bodies, easily inferable by the severe imbalance in the government jobs and promotions. The rulers of the state till date would be forced to answer as to why the ST reservation is not applied in the state, if a debate on Article 370 takes place.
Fiscal position of the state is bad; it looks down to central government even for the payment of salaries of staff of state government. There is no development or industrialization. Per capita income in J&K is highest among the states as the centre government is fusing funds without setting a mechanism for accountability and responsibility. Corruption has hollowed out the state and all the rulers of J&K till date would have to answer the question as to why the state is free from the scrutiny of CAG, if a debate on Article 370 takes place.
Every time BJP talks about the debate on the Article, NC and Congress hide behind their mischievous argument of conditional accession or irrevocability just to run away from debate.
It’s the NC, congress and PDP who need to clear their stand on the issues of secularism, equal opportunities, corruption, accountability, human rights of minorities and refugees of J&K and of ST rights, its they who actually need to clear their stand on Article 370.
Arvind (The writer is a researcher at J&K Study Centre)