Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Tuesday was rocked by a chain of protests, walkouts and two adjournments over Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks that those working to scrap Article 370 will be doing a big “anti- national” act as BJP demanded that her comments be expunged.
During the Zero Hour, BJP MLA Rajiv Jasrotia drew the attention of Speaker Kavinder Gupta and the House towards the remarks made by Mehbooba in the state Assembly on Monday. “I want to draw your attention towards the chief minister’s remarks. Some want autonomy, some self rule and BJP has its own ideology. BJP has the core issue of abrogating Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and we are not anti-nationals,” Jasrotia, who is an MLA from Hiranagar, said.
He demanded that her remarks should be expunged as those opposing Article 370 are not anti-nationals. As the Speaker agreed to the demand, the members of NC and Congress were up on their feet in opposition, terming the move as illegal.
NC member Ali Mohmmad Sagar, flanked by other opposition members, asked the Speaker, “How can you do it (expunge the CM’s remarks). You are making a mockery of this House.” The members walked into the Well of the House, raising anti-government slogans, and demanded that the government should resign over this issue.
PDP members also staged a walkout over the expunging of the remarks. Protests, sloganeering and noisy scenes forced the Speaker to adjourn the House for 15 minutes. Earlier in the morning, Independent MLA from Udhampur, Pawan Gupta was marshalled out of the Assembly when he created an uproar and protested against Mehbooba’s remarks.
BJP MLA Ravinder Raina had also raised the issue soon after the House began this morning, claiming that Article 370 is defrauding the people of Jammu and Kashmir and its abrogation is the core ideology of BJP. “BJP does not have full majority. If the BJP gets two- thirds majority, it will scrap Article 370. Let there be a discussion in the House over Article 370,” Raina said.
In a clear message to ally BJP, the CM had said on Monday anybody weakening Article 370, which grants special status to the state, will be doing the “biggest anti-national act”. “There are some forces within this country who think that by scrapping Article 370, the issue of Kashmir will be resolved and everything will be alright,” she said.
BJP’s stated position is that Article 370 should be scrapped for total integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India. “There is a conspiracy being hatched against our culture and state. Those who speak against Article 370, they don’t know that the Article 370, which is our special status, is in our character because of which we have dismissed the two ideological (narrative of two-nation theory) and also religion, and have shaken hands with India,” Mehbooba said.
Speaking to reporters after the adjournment of the Assembly, NC Jammu provincial chief Devender Rana said, “It is unexpected and unseen in history that the Speaker has expunged the remarks of the CM on the demand of BJP MLA. The government has lost the confidence as the demand came from BJP.”
The NC MLA demanded Mehbooba’s resignation, saying, “She should resign to save the dignity of the House and other ministers should also resign or clear their stand because their position have become untenable in the House.” Leader of Congress Legislative Party (CLP) Nawang Rigzin Jora told reporters that Mehbooba’s remarks were now in the Assembly records and everybody knows who were the ones opposing Article 370.
“One member of BJP today stood in the House and called for expunging the CM’s remark from records of Assembly. Speaker gave directions that it should be expunged. This is first act of this type in the history of Assembly,” Jora said.
“Either CM should come to House and clear her stand by taking back the words or she must resign. This has happened for the first time that the Speaker has directed to expunge the remarks of a leader of the house,” CLP leader said.
CPI(M) MLA MY Tarigami said the Speaker’s directive is not right and the chief minister should make a statement and clear her stand on the floor of the house as it a matter of alliance and stability of the government. “What happened in the House is a reflection of political uncertainty and it is important for the government to clear it stand,” Tarigami said.
Jasrotia questioned what Mehbooba meant by her statement. “BJP’s core ideology is Article 370 and scrapping it will only fully integrate the state with the country,” he said.
As the House assembled again, the opposition did not allow it to run and walked into the Well, demanding the CM’s statement or resignation of the government.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta said, “Every party has its agenda. PDP has its agenda, Congress has its agenda, NC has its agenda and BJP too has its agenda. All have separate agendas. I’m speaking from here as a Speaker.” “I have not yet received the record of the yesterday’s proceedings. Let the record of the proceedings come to me, if the is word anti-national, I will expunge it,” he said.
Intervening, Omar said when NC member Sagar raised the issue of expunging the remarks, we heard that the CM’s remarks have been expunged. “If you say that the remarks of the Leader of the House will expunged if it contains the words, if there is no confidence in her remarks, it is better that LoH should come and say that I withdraw my remarks before the House. Please don’t set a precedent to expunge the remarks of the Leader of the House. It is better that LoH should come here and clear her stand,” Omar said.
The Speaker adjourned the House after the pandemonium. Later when the House re-assembled, the Speaker ruled out having the remarks expunged. “I have expunged the remarks of the Assembly. The Chief Minister will clear its stand herself later,” he said. As the House re-assembled, the Budget was passed amid protests and uproar by the opposition and the House was adjourned by the Speaker.