Indian Home Minister and the ruling far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah had been determined to change the status quo in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Valley, but the US President Donald Trump’s statement, that the Indian Prime Minister, himself, had requested him to mediate the dispute, added a certain urgency to the matter.
The government’s moves to extend all provisions of the Indian constitution to Jammu and Kashmir, stripping away certain special privileges of the State and reorganizing it into two union territories, like the rest of the country, were dictated by uncertain domestic and international situations.
According to The Hindu, the BJP’s ideological imperative of doing away with Article 370 has been always there, but the impetus for it was provided first by Home Minister Amit Shah’s determination to change the status quo in the valley and also events in the past two weeks, after US President publicly said that Prime Minister Modi had approached him to play mediator for the dispute.
The Indian government, of course, denied any such conversation with Trump, but the realisation in government circles was to do something that would demonstrate that it was irrevocably opposed to US mediation.
“Ever since the BJP withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti government and governor’ rule and then President’s rule were imposed in the held valley, the government took many measures to make a change in the status quo, including setting up an anti-corruption bureau and the raids on Jammu and Kashmir Bank. The biggest move was the conduct of the panchayat elections in the State,” said the paper citing government sources.
“There was always thinking that Article 35A needed to be done away with and a delimitation exercise had to be conducted for the State, something that had been done for the rest of the country.”
It was, however, Trump’s statement that added a certain urgency to the matter. Government floor managers were told by Shah to explore how to get a majority in Rajya Sabha, the Upper House, where the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of far-right political parties, does not otherwise have one.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, and Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal and Rajya Sabha MP Bhupendra Yadav worked the phones in the last four days to persuade parties whose ideological position was close to that of the BJP on the issue. Some were told that the matter was about Jammu and Kashmir.
NDA allies were also spoken to and whips issued. The weekend saw Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad getting ready the drafts of the Bills that were passed on Monday. The Bills were carried with a two-thirds majority in the Rajya Sabha. “There were credible threats to security as well, which is why everything was kept hush-hush,” a minister said. The underlying principle behind all this was to shake the post-independence status quo.