Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and DMK president M K Stalin on Wednesday slammed the Modi Government for scrapping the special status for Jammu Kashmir and downgrading it into a Union Territory without consulting the people of the State and called it an assault on the country’s federal structure. In a nuanced response, both the leaders questioned not the decision as such but the manner in which it was taken, unilaterally without consulting any one.
Speaking at a public meeting in Chennai after unveiling a bronze statue of late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, Mamata said the people of the Jammu and Kashmir were not taken into confidence by the Centre before scrapping Art 370 that granted special status to the State. Stalin concurred with her. She said: "Federal structure, state autonomy and regional languages are under threat now. Although I am an Indian citizen, I have my own language, my own State and culture. So why should we allow others to determine our identity?”
Stalin said such a decision should have been taken after holding elections in the State, not after bringing it under President’s rule and dissolving the Assembly. “We are opposing the decision because it was taken unilaterally by the Centre without consulting anyone”. Rebutting the Centre’s argument that Jammu and Kashmir had been downgraded into a Union Territory with an Assembly to facilitate greater integration of the State with India and to give a boost to development, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy referred to his run-in with the Lt Governor Kiren Bedi and said “ it is harder to run the government when it is a Union Territory”.
He said:” We are demanding Statehood for Puducherry. It is hard to implement several welfare schemes for a Union Territory. Jammu and Kashmir will also face similar problems”. Mamata was among the first to condemn the arrest of former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, asking whether they were terrorists and demanded their immediate release. National Conference leader and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was invited for the DMK conference, but he could not make it as he is under house arrest.