5th August 2019 will remain as a very significant day in the history of India. On this day the home minister Amit Shah announced in the upper house of parliament Rajya Sabha, that article 370 of the Indian Constitution would be abrogated. The announcement took the opposition completely by surprise and showed that the BJP and Narendra Modi had played their cards in a very adroit manner. News 18 has reported that the bill was passed in the Loksabha today.

Article 370

The article was introduced in 1949, by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and further strengthened by incorporating Article 35a which gave special rights to Kashmiri people and special status to the state. The state was allowed to have a separate constitution and flag and central laws passed by the Indian Parliament were not applicable to the state.

The BJP for years has made it clear that article 370 needs to be abolished and the historical wrong committed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru must be rectified.

On 5th August the home minister Amit Shah under the guidance of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi piloted the bill that made article 370 redundant. Along with this article 35a which is a corollary of article 370 also became meaningless.

Passage of the bill

The BJP cashed in on the emotive appeal of the article to all Indians. It also received the support of many opposition parties who had earlier opposed the BJP.

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The result was that the bill was adopted a two-thirds majority. The BJP and its allies had the support of 126 members while the opposition led by the Congress Party could muster only 61.

The passage of the legislation is a masterstroke by the Modi government and shows the BJP means business. Earlier the BJP had abolished triple talaq and criminalized the offense with a jail term of 3 years for any Muslim indulging in this practice.

Now the BJP has abolished article 370 and Kashmir has lost its special status. The BJP planned the move in detail and before this announcement in the upper house security had been beefed up in the valley and most of the opposition leaders many of whom had a pro-Pakistan slant were arrested.

Bifurcating the state

The home minister did not stop by just abolishing article 370 but made another far-reaching announcement.

He announced that the state would be bifurcated into two parts and both would be union territories, which would be administered from Delhi. In other words, the state of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to be a composite State. Ladakh dominated by Buddhists was made into a union territory with no assembly and would be governed by a Lieutenant-Governor appointed from Delhi. The state of Kashmir comprising the Jammu and Srinagar regions would have a state assembly but overall control would be with the lieutenant Governor who again would be appointed from Delhi.

Kashmir problem

These are far-reaching decisions after 72 years perhaps means that the Kashmir problem appears to be reaching the end of the road. Pakistan reacted with great anger and Imran Khan the Pakistan prime Minister condemned the Indian move but apart from this and some firing on the line of control Pakistan has lost all locus standi.

The efforts to internationalize the issue by Pakistan also have not borne fruit and the United States which was earlier apprised of its decision by the Modi government has not taken the side of Pakistan. Earlier Trump had offered to mediate on this issue.

Most countries in the world see the action by the Indian government as an internal affair of India. The decision of the Modi government has gone down very well with the Indian population and there have been reports of happiness and joy from all over the country.

Congress party

The Congress Party which opposed the bill along with a few of its allies failed to cut any ice and overall stood discredited in the eyes of the Indian masses as a party that was living in the past. The net result was that many prominent Congress leaders supported the Modi government and the party was split and looked more like a ship whose rudder has broken.

Historical wrong

Thee move by Modi and Shaw aided by the national security advisor Ajit Doval has rectified a historical wrong and integrated the state with India. All special privileges of the state have been taken away and unfortunately, the state has been reduced in stature to a Union territory. Business today has reported that the bill was today introduced in the Lok Sabha and passed by the house.

There is a good chance then the Modi gamble may well pay off. A few disgruntled elements from the minority community are bound to create a problem but perhaps Modi, the army, and the national security advisor have factored this in their calculations.

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