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Black day in constitutional history, 'union of states' idea in danger: Cong on Article 370

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: August 5, 2019  | 21:42 IST

(Eds: Updating with more quotes) New Delhi, Aug 5 (PTI) Describing the revoking of Article 370 as a "black day" in the country's constitutional history, the Congress on Monday alleged that the government "dismembered" Jammu and Kashmir by "mischievously misinterpreting" articles in the Constitution, and cautioned that the idea of India as a union of states is in "grave danger". The government on Monday revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram alleged that Modi dispensation's move amounted to "constitutional monstrosity" and the decision marks the "beginning of the disintegration of India if the government continues on this path". Flanked by leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and other opposition leaders, Chidambaram told reporters outside Parliament: "We anticipated a misadventure, but did not think in our wildest dreams that they will take such a catastrophic step." "Today is a black day in the constitutional history of India," he said. Azad, in his remarks, accused the BJP of taking the decision "for votes", and also alleged that the saffron party is "playing" with unity and integrity of the state. "A border state, which is culturally, geographically, historically and politically different was bound together by Article 370. Drunk on power and to get votes, the BJP govt scrapped 3-4 things in one stroke," Azad said. He said that since morning, the Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), CPI, DMK, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Kerala Congress, Samajwadi Party, Kerala's Muslim League, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), has been protesting and will continue do so against this "black law". "We will keep fighting both inside and outside Parliament," Azad said. Senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi expressed concern over the security situation in Kashmir, but conceded that the government's move was "politically astute". "Legally flawed but pol (politically) astute decision. If Article 356 can be used to make Parliament into J-K assembly, any state can be bifurcated by brute Parliament majority! personally very worried: how long we will now manage J-K security risks, with exploding dissatisfaction and new breeding ground for alienation (sic)," he said in a tweet. Shashi Tharoor hit out at the BJP for allegedly not following parliamentary procedure. "In the latest episode of BJP's continuing drama series 'Flagrant Violations of Parliamentary Procedure', we were treated to the extraordinary and unseemly spectacle of the Lok Sabha 'accepting', by vociferous voice vote and over Opposition protests, a Bill it had not seen and had not been given!" he said. Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Azad said the entire Kashmir Valley is under curfew and three former chief ministers of the state and political leaders have been placed under house arrest. He called for the situation to be discussed first but Naidu allowed Shah to move the resolution. Chidambaram told reporters that the government has not simply got rid of Article 370, but has also "dismembered" the state of Jammu and Kashmir by "mischievously misinterpreting Article 3 and Article 370 of the Constitution". "If this can be done to Jammu and Kashmir let me caution you that this can be done to every other state in India. All that they have to do is dismiss the elected government, impose President's rule, dissolve the elected assembly, Parliament takes the power of the state assembly. The government moves a resolution, Parliament approves it and the state can be dismembered," Chidambaram said. He claimed that every state can be broken up and Union territories can be created out of the states by the "mischievous interpretation" of Article 3 and 370. "It will not stop here. What they have done is a constitutional monstrosity. People of India and people of every state must wake up to the grave danger that is set as an example today by these completely unconstitutional and illegal resolutions," Chidambaram said. "I want to warn, every party, every state and every citizen in India that the idea of India as a union of states is in grave danger. They can dismember every state and break it up. This is the beginning of the disintegration of India if this government continues on this path," he said, adding that this was "the worst day" in the constitutional history of India. Attacking the government in Rajya Sabha, Chidambaram said by repealing Article 370 of the Constitution, the government has committed a "cardinal blunder", a "fatal legal error". Later, at a book launch event, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said: "The first step towards what they wanted, they have achieved, but I don't know what is going to happen to the Kashmir Valley now. Obviously, it is not going to be an easy walk over." "...We were discussing what would have Mahatma Gandhi done today in a situation when this bill would have come and it has been passed, so I think he would have taken out a march from Lal Qila to Lal Chowk to show the solidarity to Kashmiris," he said. Fulfilling an electoral promise of the BJP less than 90 days after the Modi 2.0 government took power, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the decision in the Rajya Sabha, which approved both the resolution and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation bill. Both will now come up in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. PTI ASK MG ASK SOM SOM

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