The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has prioritized the conflict-riddled state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and reiterated its commitment to repeal Article 370 and Article35A. These respective Articles are regarded as the heart of the state that safeguards the special status of J&K.
The ruling party in its manifesto (Sankalp Patra) for the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections said it was committed to tackle obstacles that come in the way of the state’s development and to provide adequate financial resources to all its regions. BJP in its manifesto said its stand remains steadfast to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution of India. The party describes Article 35A as ‘discriminatory’ against non-permanent residents and women of J&K.
“We believe that Article 35A is an obstacle in the development of the state. The party has always advocated abrogation of Article 370 and has also been speaking against Article 35A”, the BJP said in its manifesto. BJP also said it will take steps to ensure a safe and peaceful environment for all residents of J&K and make efforts for the return of Kashmir Pandits who were forced to leave the valley in the 1990s. Moreover, the manifesto states the party will provide financial assistance for the resettlement of refugees from West Pakistan, Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) and Chhamb.
However, Kashmir-based political parties are against any move to tweak the Articles. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had formed a coalition government in the state with BJP, has been most vocal against the BJP’s plans. Mufti warned that abrogating Article 370 would lead to freedom for the state (Kashmir) from India. Mehbooba said “If you free J&K from Article 370, you will free the state from the country as well. I have said many a times that Article 370 links J&K with the country. When you break this bridge, India loses its legitimacy over the state. It becomes an occupational force”.
Mehbooba Mufti argued that the BJP has failed on fronts, be it unemployment, farmers issues, or price hike and now they are looking for issues which will garner votes. The PDP leader warned that BJP should desist from playing with fire adding that “Any change in the special status of the state could endanger the entire South-Asian region.”