You will reduce states to colonies, and you think you are doing something which is constitutional
Our foremost duty is to protect the rights of the states, and by protecting the rights of the states, protect the rights of the people of those states. Day after day, we fail to protect the rights of states. We have passed numerous Bills which are on the Concurrent List. There has been no consultation with any state, yet we pass those Bills completely oblivious of the rights of the states. I wrote that we are reducing states to municipal administrations. Today, we have gone a step further. You are not even reducing states to municipal administrations; you will make states your vassal. You will reduce states to colonies, and you think you are doing something which is constitutional.
Sir, be that as it may, what have you done today? You are passing an order under Article 370, by which you are repealing the earlier Application Order and making a new Application Order. Ostensibly, the purpose is to amend Article 370, sub-Article (d), and substitute the words, “Legislative Assembly” for the words “Constituent Assembly”. Well, I am sure some wise men in the law ministry may have told you that it is possible. I have no quarrel with anyone’s wisdom. I could be wrong and they could be right, but I think you have forgotten that you cannot modify Article 370 by an order under Article 370. Article 370 enables you to modify such other provisions in the Constitution. It is beyond my comprehension how Article 370 order can be used to modify Article 370. I leave it there.
You are doing another thing. You are passing two resolutions today, hoping that you will pass. I am sure you will pass them. Under the first resolution, Article 370 itself will cease to exist. I know this is your manifesto promise. By this resolution, you think that you are repealing Article 370, but in repealing Article 370, you are unleashing the forces which you cannot control.
I have dealt with the tate of Jammu and Kashmir. Yes, there are a number of young men in Jammu and Kashmir, who have taken to violence, who preach secession and who want to split Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India. No one condones their action, no one supports their action. The Congress party and every other party is implacably opposed to those young men. While, there are thousands of other young men, for reasons which they think are good, pelted stones, thousands of other young men for reasons which they think are good, called hartals. I have interacted with them. I led a delegation of Parliament along with Arun Jaitley. When we first visited Jammu and Kashmir, as home minister, they called a hartal. The whole state was shut down.
But, when I led a Parliamentary delegation, along with Jaitley and many other distinguished Members of Parliament, the whole state turned out to receive us. Thousands and thousands of people came and represented to us. It was an eyeopener for all of us. Not all citizens in Jammu and Kashmir want; in fact, an overwhelming majority in Jammu and Kashmir, do not want secession; do not want to leave the Union of India. You may disagree with me, but, I believe that they want more autonomy. Now, what are you doing by repealing Article 370? I fear, I genuinely fear home minister, that you are pushing thousands and thousands of young men from this column to join the other column of a few hundreds. I sincerely hope that it will not happen. But, if it happens, you will rue this day when you repeal Article 370.
The second thing that you are doing is you are dismembering a state. You think that you are doing it to Jammu and Kashmir. But, what you are doing to Jammu and Kashmir, using these provisions, misinterpreting these provisions, in fact, I could go on to say, by mischievously interpreting these provisions, can be done to any other state. Please tell me, why the mechanism that you have devised to dismember Jammu and Kashmir will not apply to any other state? Please convince us that Derek O’Brien and I are wrong. All you have to do is to dismiss an elected government, dissolve the state legislature, promulgate President’s Rule, declare Parliament to be the state legislature for the time being and divide the state.
I told my friend from Odisha, what stops our future government from carving out a Union Territory for the KBK districts? What stops our future government from creating a Union Territory or a new state for North Bengal? What stops our future government from dividing Tamil Nadu? My friends from AIADMK are here. They do not realise what they are doing. The same provisions, the same method, the same resolutions can be applied to any state. But, I think, in doing it for Jammu and Kashmir, you have made a fatal legal error. I won’t tell what the legal error is now. You will discover it in due course but my greater concern is, what you are doing today sends a very, very wrong signal to all the states of this country.
Sir, all I can do is appeal, appeal to the Home Minister, even at this late stage, stop, pause, reflect on what you are doing. If you are determined to repeal Article 370, I can do nothing about it. But the other thing that you are doing, dismembering Jammu and Kashmir, for heaven’s sake, in the name of the people of India, I appeal to you, don’t do that. Don’t dismember that state. It is one state. It came to us as one state. I do not want to recall history or those tall personalities who brought Jammu and Kashmir to accede to India. That is history. That is the historical document. It is as important as the Constitution of India but if you wish to ignore history, if you wish to ignore the pact made with Maharaja Hari Singh, if you wish to ignore what Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was able to achieve in those difficult days, it is your privilege; do what you like but what you are doing is wrong.
Repealing Article 35A is wrong. Amending the Constitution invoking Article 370 is wrong. Doing away with Article 370 is wrong. Do all these wrongs; do all these wrongs; I am willing to, oh my, I am willing to tolerate all those wrongs but for heaven’s sake, don’t dismember Jammu and Kashmir, don’t do that cardinal sin, don’t do that monumental blunder.
Edited excerpts from the speech of Rajya Sabha MP from Congress, P Chidambaram, on the Jammu And Kashmir Reorganization Bill, 2019 and the Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019, July 5