Srinagar, Senior Congress leader and former parliamentarian Tariq Hameed Karra said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had deliberately chosen to take an “indirect judicial route” to abrogate Article 35A. “BJP and the RSS have sinister designs to erode Article 35A and the special status of J&K,” Karra said at a presser held at his residence in Srinagar.
Flanked by senior Congress leaders including Taj Mohiuddin, G. M Saroori and Abdul Rashid Dar, he said that by filing a petition in the Supreme Court through an affiliated group (the NGO ‘We The Citizens’), the RSS and BJP have taken an “indirect judicial route” to remove Article 35A so that they are not publicly blamed for the same. “That is why RSS and BJP are not taking any public posture on the issue directly,” he said.
A founding member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Karra resigned for the party to join the Congress after last year’s public uprising. He said that the BJP and its cohorts will now sell the issue of abrogation of Article 35A and Article 370 to their voters, which they committed to in their election manifesto. “They will say, look, we have fulfilled our promise,” Karra said. “On the other hand, they have kept room for the PDP as will, so that it can tell Kashmiris that the Article was abrogated by the court and not by the BJP.”
Karra said that he had filed an application in the Supreme Court to defend Article 35A and he has “all backing and assurance” from the Congress party high command on the issue. The Supreme Court on Friday accepted the petition of Karra and empanelled him as a private respondent in the Article 35A case, the hearing of which has been deferred till after Diwali.
Karra’s petition will be argued by former union home minister and senior advocate P Chidambaram. “I can say with belief that the BJP and the PDP are involved in match-fixing on this issue,” Karra said. “So I took the matter with the Congress high command. They approved my stand and assured me of their full backing and assistance to fight the case in Supreme Court,” he said.
He said that the PDP had sold itself to the BJP for the sake of power. “If it would not have been so, why then has PDP failed to convince its ruling partner to file objections in the Supreme Court against the petition to abrogate Article 35A?” Karra questioned. “Do they have the moral right to continue in the government? To my understanding, they are playing a fixed match just to address their respective constituencies,” he said.
Karra said that the state of J&K had a strong case historically, legally and constitutionally, regarding its special status in the Constitution of India. “It is not only Jammu and Kashmir that is enjoying special rights under the Constitution of India. The northeast states of India and the state of Goa, too, enjoy special rights under Article 371,” Karra said.
He questioned why the special positions of these states were not being challenged. “Why are we being treated unconstitutionally? Why Article 370 is unconstitutional?” he questioned. He said that if Article 35A goes, then the centre will be ready to do away with all presidential orders passed since 1950. “Article 35A is our minimum right and part of our bargain with the Indian Union. We will not tolerate any attempt to fiddle with it,” he said.