Home Minister Amit Shah and PM Modi have engraved their names in the history. They did, what was thought to be impossible. It has been a widely-held notion for a long time that repealing Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution was not possible, as such a legislation would not pass the numbers test in both Houses of Parliament. Over the years, the people of the country have been made to believe this misplaced notion, and various theories around it.
On Monday evening, the Rajya Sabha witnessed a historic moment, one in which several “experts” on Kashmir, the Congress and regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir were proved wrong. After the chairman Venkaiah Naidu put the resolution moved by home minister Amit Shah on repealing Article 370 to vote, the resolution was passed by a voice vote. Only the Congress and some other parties such as the Left, Samajwadi Party and DMK opposed it.
Earlier, the Trinamool Congress, JD(U) and NCP had walked out from the House before the vote could take place. Several other parties, including the AAP, BSP, YSRCP, TDP, TRS, BJD and AIADMK, supported the government.
No party asked for a division of votes, and so voting was not done on this particular issue. It is possible that no party wanted the record to state that they voted against the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A. This is a telling commentary on how the public mood forced political parties to consider and review their positions within and outside Parliament.
Earlier, Amit Shah addressed the concerns of the Opposition members in an impassioned speech that concluded a seven-hour-long debate on the topic.
After the passage of the legislations, Article 35A will be automatically revoked with the repealing of Article 370. An enabling bill passed by the Upper House states that the law of the land will apply in Kashmir in the same measure as it applies in the rest of the nation.
The bill to bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories was passed with 125 votes in favour and 61 votes against it.
“This is a historic moment for Indian constitution and the people of India. The government has taken the decision within the purview of its constitutional powers. This was the only way it was possible considering the last 70 years.” said Suresh Sharma, a supreme court advocate and social activist.
The resolution moved by Shah on Article 370 said: “That this House recommends the following public notification to be issued by the President of India under Article 370 (3): ‘In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (3) of Article 370 read with Clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the President, on the recommendation of the Parliament, is pleased to declare that, as from 5th of August, 2019, all Clauses of the said Article 370 shall cease to be operative except Clause (1) thereof which shall read as under, namely:— ”All provisions of this Constitution, as amended from time to time, without any modifications or exceptions, shall apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir notwithstanding anything contrary contained in Article 152 or Article 308 or any other Article of this Constitution or any other provision of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir or any law, document, judgement, ordinance, order, byelaw, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usage having the force of law in the territory of India, or any other instrument, treaty or agreement as envisaged under Article 363 or otherwise.'” (ii) “That the President of India has referred the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 to this House under the proviso to Article 3 of the Constitution of India for its views as this House is vested with the powers of the State Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir, as per proclamation of the President of India dated 19th December, 2018. This House resolves to express the view to accept the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019.”