Chennai, August 11: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday backed the scrapping of special status under Article 370 to Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was in the interest of the nation and should not be treated as a political issue.
It was the need of the hour and people of the country should stand with their counterparts in J and K, he said here at the release of a book on his two-year term in office titled “Listening, Learning & Leading”, by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Naidu said Shah was being appreciated for the passage of the bill.
“Now that the bill is passed, I can speak…that (abrogation) is the need of the hour. Its a good thing,” Naidu, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said.
Naidu said the abrogation “is in the interest of the nation, for its future, for its security, for its safety. I can say that as a Vice President with considerable experience in public life and now that the Parliament has voted it also.”
“We should all think in terms of national interest rather than party interest. Art 370 should not be treated as a political issue but as a national issue that Kashmir is an integral part of India,” he said.
Whatever problems are faced by the people of Kashmir, we have to stand by them and “assuage their feelings and see to it that steps are taken to restore normalcy” and that the development agenda is implemented at the earliest, Naidu said.
Referring to a newspaper report, he said Parliament had earlier discussed the scrapping of Art 370 in 1964, with three members from Kashmir calling for its removal saying the state did not benefit from it.
Those who spoke on the bill included the veteran socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia, he said citing the report.
“So, irrespective of the parties, everybody supported the resolution at that time. Still it could not happen which is a different thing. Always you must remember history,” he added.
The vice-president cited it to counter criticism that the abrogation happened suddenly.
Naidu said he was gripped by “tension” when the bill came up for discussion on August 5 in the Rajya Sabha since he had to manage the affairs of the House.
“…you know nowadays what is happening. I don’t want to remove the members, use force like what happened on the Telanaga-Andhra (bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh) thing and all,” he said referring to the chaotic scenes witnessed then.
The former union minister said he did not want to close the doors, “stopping the Doordarshan (live broadcast), and then removing 30-40 people.. I was praying”.
“Because the (Art 370) bill (that was supposed to be) going to the Lok sabha has come to the Rajya Sabha. They (government) seem to have decided we must first cross the hurdle at Rajya Sabha so that we can go to the Lok Sabha. So the bill came (and) I gave a second thought,” he said.
“Luckily, members from all sides spoke. There was proper voting also, then there was division also and then by two thirds majority Art 370 has been abrogated,” he said.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who spoke at the book release event, indicated that Kashmir was peaceful post the scrapping of Art 370, saying “not even a teargas shell” has been fired.
Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam lauded Shah on the issue, saying he had “piloted one of the most important and courageous pieces of legislation in the parliamentary history of India.”
Removal of special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir “was a long awaited one,” he said, recalling that late AIADMK supremo and chief minister J Jayalalithaa had raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha in 1984.
He also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah “for their daring and historical achievement of removing the Article 370 of the Constitution.”
“I am confident that this extremely significant politico-constitutional measure will not only strengthen the unity and integrity of India but also reinforce federalism by placing all states on an equal footing,” Panneerselvam said.
Top film actor Rajinikanth was also all praise for the Centre on scrapping the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“My heartfelt congratulations to Amit Shah for Mission Kashmir. Hats off,” he said.
He also compared the Modi-Shah duo to Lord Krishna and Arjuna, whose combination is credited with having played a key role in Pandavas’ victory over Kauravas in the Mahabharatha.
However, “we don’t know who is Krishna and who is Arjuna,” added the actor, who has said he would launch his political party and contest the 2021 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
” Only they know who is Krishna and who is Arjuna,” the veteran star said.(PTI)