The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre has proposed to strip the restive Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood, and divide it into two union territories. The move has drawn strong reactions from political leaders and prominent personalities across the nation. While some have upheld the decision as unifying India, others have condemned the way it was brought about.
On August 5, Home Minister Amit Shah ended the Centre’s silence over the sudden mobilisation of additional troops in the Valley and the evacuation of pilgrims, tourists, and students from the state. He announced in Parliament that Article 370 will hitherto be scrapped by virtue of provisions mentioned in clause 3 of the very article that allowed its dissolution, using a Presidential order.
By evening, the Upper House had also cleared the Bill concerning the bifurcation of the state into two states while stripping it of its statehood.
Both the decisions were met with much resistance, and the Home Minister assured that statehood would be restored once the situation normalises in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, J&K is not the first state to lose its statehood. Delhi used to be a state before it was converted into a Union Territory on November 1, 1956. Decades later, it was conferred with partial statehood, which allowed it to have its own chief minister and assembly, albeit with limitations on their powers.
In 1956, the Congress government had undertaken the mammoth task of reorganising the states’ boundaries under the States Reorganisation Act; that was when Delhi lost its statehood. In 1993, it was declared the National Capital Territory of Delhi as per the 69th Amendment to the Constitution.
However, this status of partial statehood has been challenged by several of its chief ministers, with the most recent challenges coming from incumbent CM Arvind Kejriwal. The Aam Aadmi Party chief has been running from pillar to post seeking full statehood for Delhi in the interest of better administration. While his efforts are yet to see fruition, he continues with his fight.
His predecessor, the late Congress stalwart Sheila Dixit, had also fought for full statehood for the national capital. In fact, it was one of the main features of the Delhi state Congress manifesto in 2003.
However, the party's efforts also failed, even though it was also ruling at the Centre at the time.