Amit Shah claims positive impact of Article 370 revocation evident in high voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir

The Home Minister’s remarks come amid ongoing debates and concerns surrounding the implications of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the Narendra Modi government’s decision to revoke Article 370 has yielded positive results, as evident from the high voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking on May 14, Shah claimed that the abrogation of the controversial constitutional provision has bolstered people’s faith in democracy.

He highlighted the increased poll percentage as a sign that the contentious move has found favour among the residents of the region. The Home Minister’s remarks come amid ongoing debates and concerns surrounding the implications of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.

BJP and Article 370

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long opposed Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The revocation of this article was a key promise in the BJP’s 2019 election manifesto. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government viewed this step as essential to integrate Kashmir fully into India and bring it in line with the rest of the country. The decision to abolish Article 370 has been a cornerstone of the BJP’s stance on Kashmir and has been met with both support and criticism.

The abrogation of Article 370 has had a profound impact on the people of Kashmir. The region, which had enjoyed a degree of autonomy under this provision, now operates under the Indian constitution like any other state. This change means that all Indian laws apply to Kashmir, and individuals from outside the state can now purchase property in the region. The government has argued that these changes will bring development and prosperity to Kashmir, aiming to transform the region positively.

Oppositions’ reactions

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the abrogation of Article 370 by the BJP government has faced strong criticism from opposition parties like the Congress Party, who have warned of potential consequences and described it as a “catastrophic step.”

The Congress Party, along with other opposition parties in the INDIA alliance, are now faced with the challenge of reconciling their divergent views on Article 370. While the AAP supported the Centre’s decision in 2019, the Congress initially opposed the scrapping of Article 370 but later nuanced its position. The Left and socialist bloc, however, continue to strongly believe that Article 370 should be reinstated as it was the only link between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India.

Senior opposition leaders like K.C. Tyagi of the Janata Dal (United) have acknowledged the political minefield they now have to navigate. They argue that the BJP has criticized the Supreme Court on many issues in the past, even going so far as to celebrate the Ayodhya verdict, while the opposition has always respected the court’s decisions.

The constitutional validity of the government’s decision has been a subject of legal debate, with experts divided on the matter. Critics argue that the abrogation breached the constitutional special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir and that the Union government indirectly did what it could not do directly by modifying the meaning of ‘constituent assembly’ to abrogate the Article.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has described the decision as a “sinister one” that removed the autonomy granted to the state in 1947. Senior Congress Party member P. Chidambaram has criticized the move, stating that a state had never been reduced to a Union Territory before.

Internationally, Pakistan and China have opposed the abrogation, stating that India had breached their territorial sovereignty. However, the BJP government has maintained that this issue concerns only India and that no international borders were breached.