Autonomy plan amounts to second Partition: BJP
22 June 2000
Times of India
New Delhi: The BJP has strongly opposed Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah''s autonomy proposal for the state, terming it a ''transgression of the Constitution''. ''This proposal is anomalous as it wants to set the clock back by almost half a century,'' said party general secretary Narendra Modi, referring to Farooq''s move to restore the pre-1953 status for the state. Modi, who returned from the state after holding talks with local party functionaries, claimed the CM had raised the autonomy issue only to divert the people''s attention from his own failures. From Friday the BJP state unit will begin an agitation to oppose the move. Since the NC is a constituent of the NDA, the aggressiveness of the BJP response to the autonomy proposal is bound eventually to raise a question mark over Farooq''s continuing participation in the Union government. Modi questioned the CM''s right to represent the aspirations of any part of the state by pointing out that even in the Kashmir valley his National Conference had polled only five per cent of votes in the Lok Sabha elections. In the entire state the BJP''s percentage of votes had been the highest, he claimed. The BJP and the Congress - both opposing the autonomy proposal - together had polled 75 per cent of the votes, Modi said, questioning Farooq''s mandate to take the initiative. ''This is actually a proposal to create a state within a state and divide the country into many pieces,'' Modi said. He claimed that all 22 NC MLAs from the Jammu region were opposed to the proposal. ''That''s why the CM had to issue whips in the Assembly despite the party''s two-thirds majority,'' he said. Describing the autonomy package as dangerous, Modi said, ''It undermines India''s Constitution and negates the federal structure; essentially it is a conspiracy for the second partition of India,'' he alleged. He feared that the autonomy package, if accepted, would keep the state effectively out of the ambit of the country''s judicial and constitutional control. Since Jammu and Kashmir is a sensitive border state it would be extremely difficult for the Centre to fight external aggression if its writ does not run there, he said. ''For all practical purposes it will sow the poison seeds of the country''s disintegration,'' Modi alleged.