Srinagar: A senior BJP leader announced in Jammu last week that the part was serious about abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. While the commoner remained indifferent as usual, the pro-India camp responded sharply saying abrogation of the Article was not possible.
The statement has been perceived as a violation of NDA common minimum programme (CMP) formulated in 1996 under former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was published on 5th June 1996 which inter allia, mentions that ‘respecting Article 370 of the Constitution, as well as wishes of the people, the problems of Jammu and Kashmir may be resolved through giving the people of the State the maximum degree of autonomy.
The promise was made by the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Narender Modi at Jammu during his `Lalkar’ rally early this year. Legal and political experts believe that Article 370 cannot be abrogated. This is exactly what former Indian Law minister and BJP leader Ram Jethmalani made clear two times. In 2010, Jethmalani while interacting with media persons in New Delhi said: “It is stated in the Constitution that Article 370 can neither be amended nor removed without the approval of the Constituent
Assembly. Since the Constituent Assembly ceased to exist after the adoption of the Constitution, it was not possible to alter or remove the Article now.”
He added that only a government that adopts an entirely different constitution and asks judges to follow it at the point of a gun could remove or amend the Article 370. Jethmalani said the demand for abrogation of Article 370 was made when the BJP was in the opposition and in his opinion it was a mistake. “It is not within the purview of the Parliament,” he said.
Pertinently an agreement between the leadership and government of India urged both the parties to give up extremist positions on both the sides. While BJP had agreed not to seek
abrogation of Article 370, Hurriyat agreed not to seek secession.
Senior counsel, Siraj-ud-Din Shah while questioning the competence of BJP to abrogate the article said it (Article 370) was diluted beyond repair by successive regimes. The dilution, he said started during Sher-e-Kashmir’s regime when he extended the defence of India Rules (DIR) to the state to crush dissent.