A fire lit by government: NC. Ambedkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee opposed it: Minister
The discussion on the supplementary demands for grants for Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry in the Lok Sabha became the site of an intense debate between the ruling BJP and the Opposition on the events in J&K since August 5, 2019, the reading down of Article 370.
National Conference MP Hasnain Masood termed the ending of the special status of J&K and reducing its status to a Union Territory as a fire that had been lit by the present government and whose consequences were still unfolding. He termed the District Development Council (DDC) polls in J&K as a referendum on the move and pointed out that the BJP had got only 3% vote in the polls.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responded to the charge stating that the DDCs were not a referendum but a demonstration by the people of the Union Territory of their faith in the democratic institutions and the administration’s ability to maintain law and order. “The DDC polls saw voters come out in large numbers, 51% polling percentage was recorded in these polls, not just in urban areas but in rural areas too. That is a sign of the faith that people have in democratic institutions and law and order,” she said.
BJP’s Jamyang Tsering Namgyal hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “yug purush” for realising the dream of ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who had opposed special status to J&K.
Initiating the discussion, Anumula Revanth Reddy (Congress) said the incidents of ‘crossfire’ have risen to their highest numbers in the last 16 years in the Union Territory and accused the government of slapping criminal cases on local journalists for writing critical pieces.
Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said B.R. Ambedkar, besides Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, were opposed to Article 370. And it was only a temporary provision, he said.
TMC’s Sougata Ray said J&K’s statehood should be restored and alleged that peace has not been brought to the Valley as was promised by the government. Neither have Kashmiri Pandits been rehabilitated in Kashmir nor has tourism been restored, he said.
He also criticised the role of former Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, saying she often fought the elected government there.
The budget for Puducherry was also part of the debate.
Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD said he looked forward to the day when J&K and Ladakh are accorded statehood and supported the government’s measures to bring normalcy there. Noting that two Lok Sabha seats are reserved for the area under Pakistan’s control, he said the issue remains an “unfinished agenda”.