BJP manifesto promises repeal of Articles 370, 35A

BJP manifesto promises repeal of Articles 370, 35A
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Party also asserts commitment to citizenship bill

New Delhi: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday reiterated its commitment to repeal Article 370, which gives Jammu and Kashmir a special status, and Article 35A, which allows the state’s legislature to define permanent residents, and pledged in its manifesto to work towards ensuring return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley.
The BJP said in its manifesto that its position since the erstwhile Jan Sangh days has been for abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
The saffron party also said it is committed to annulling Article 35A, which it said was “discriminatory” against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We believe that Article 35A is an obstacle in the development of the state,” the BJP said in its manifesto titled ‘Sankalp Patra’, released here by top party leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.
Kashmir-based parties are vehemently opposed to any attempt to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A. The Congress in its manifesto has promised to maintain the constitutional status quo on the matter.
In its manifesto, the BJP said it will take all steps to ensure safe and peaceful environment for all residents of the state and make all efforts to ensure the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to leave the valley in 1990s due to eruption of terrorism.
The BJP also said its government will provide financial assistance for the resettlement of refugees from West Pakistan, Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) and Chhamb.
In its manifesto, the BJP underscored its commitment to enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, on which it was forced to go slow following widespread opposition from North East states.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the citizenship bill is necessary for protection of individuals of religious minority communities who are escaping from persecution in neighbouring countries.
Referring to protests in north eastern estates against the bill, he said his party, if voted back to power, will make all efforts to clarify the issues to those who have expressed apprehensions regarding the legislation.
“We reiterate our commitment to protect the linguistic, cultural and social identity of the people of North-East. Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs escaping persecution from India’s neighbouring countries will be given citizenship in India,” he said.
Many in the North East region believe that such a law will threaten their cultural identity as a large number of immigrants living there will be accorded citizenship.