The BJP appears hurt with J-K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti praising Indira Gandhi and also threatening that any tinkering with the Article 35A that grants J&K legislature powers to define state’s permanent residents would have adverse repercussions in Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP that shares power in J&K with Mehbooba’s PDP on Saturday reacted strongly by asserting that her statement on Article 35A does not depict true picture and is politically incorrect. The Constitutional provision deprives women of J&K of their fundamental rights and nationalism cannot be tagged with the Article 35A.
Mehbooba appears to have targeted the BJP when she said: “For me India is Indira Gandhi. Maybe some people won't like it, but she was India. While I was growing up, she represented India for me.”
This indicates the strains that have come to the fore between the PDP and BJP particularly due to delay in implementation of the Agenda of Alliance signed by the two parties. The PDP leadership has been showing aggressive postures on the delay and has been demanding resumption of talks with Pakistan and separatists on the Kashmir issue as the party’s base has shrunk in the Valley.
Mehbooba in her speech at the 18th foundation day of the PDP on Saturday at Srinagar appeared upset with the BJP when she questioned as to why voices of closing the two centres for trade with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) were being raised on the pretext of hawala money and drugs for secessionist activity coming through these places. No such demand is made when drugs are smuggled through the Wagha border in Punjab. She said “PDP will not allow closure of cross-LoC trade and continue to work towards opening more routes across LoC with POK”.
Reverting to her pre-BJP coalition rhetoric, she demanded that the seats reserved for POK in the J&K Assembly should be filled through nomination and the session of the house held by rotation on this side of the Line of Control (LoC) and also in Muzaffrabad, which is the capital of POK.
She stressed that exchange of students and visitors between the divided Kashmir should be introduced.
Mehbooba appealed all politicians of J&K, including Farooq Abdullah of NC and Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress, to come together for resolution of all issues related to Jammu and Kashmir.
In a blow to the BJP, quoting her father Mufti Sayeed she reiterated that you cannot kill the idea of “Azadi” in Kashmir but should evolve some better idea than this one.
Taking jibe at Mehbooba, Umar Abdullah, former Chief Minister and NC leader, tweeted, “Mehbooba Mufti's assertion that "India is Indira & Modi is only the man of the moment" would suggest she's ready to exit coalition. No way!!”. Omar also tweeted “If only her governance was as good as her sound bytes she wouldn't have to blame China & the media for all that plagues J&K today”.
BJP chief spokesman Sunil Sethi reacted to Mehbooba’s assertion on Article 35A by claiming that the provision was introduced in the Constitution of India through process of the Article 370 and in fact has lead to only disparity and inequalities in the state . As the Article 35 A saves state subject laws from applicability of concept of equality, it has lead to a situation on unequal treatment of female state subjects and their children within state .
Sethi in a statement said that though BJP stands by Agenda of Alliance and won't seek alteration of existing Constitutional position, but it is equally true that the Article 35 A has created more harm to the state than any other provision of law.
He further said that the state subject laws, which are protected by the Article 35 A, are also responsible for retarding growth and progress of the state which has become fiscally dependent on grants of the central government in the absence of less investments and infrastructural projects in the state as outsiders are reluctant in putting their money in J&K.Despite having more natural resources, the state is in financial mess because of self isolation.