How PM scripted 'stealth' plan to scrap Article 370

(This story originally appeared in on Feb 11, 2024)

NEW DELHI: When Narendra Modi reached Rasthtrapati Bhavan late on the evening of Aug 4, 2019, it was only par for course for a PM who has consistently kept channels of communication open with the President. What was amiss was that the PM had travelled alone in an unremarkable car without the mandatory carcade & retinue.

The drastic departure was required because of the PM’s sensitive agenda – he had gone to brief the then President Ramnath Kovind about his govt’s momentous decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by hollowing out the contentious Article 370.

The secrecy was part of the larger plan to inflict a surprise on opponents who had vowed to oppose any BJP move to change the status quo. The political ambush saw PM taking the risk of introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, in Rajya Sabha where the BJP-led NDA did not have majority support, and not in Lok Sabha where the saffron party enjoyed a majority on its own.

The PM scripted the “stealth” because he reckoned that bringing the legislation in Lok Sabha first would have alerted the opposition and helped them marshal their superior numbers in Rajya Sabha to block the move.

The hitherto unknown details of the hush-hush political operation Modi staged to fulfil one of BJP’s foundational pledges, part of the soon-to-be-released film ‘Article 370’, have now been corroborated by official sources.

They said the timing, soon after Modi pulled off a resounding win to secure his second term, and the lengths he went to keep it under wraps, underlined his commitment to the pledge for J&K’s complete integration, an article of faith for BJP since its inception. He could also have taken the decision closer to a major contest if he had approached it through the prism of political profit.

The govt has since cited the drop in terror cases in J&K, the steep rise in tourist arrivals in the region and the doubling of Gross State Domestic Product as validation of the decision that Modi scripted and which was executed by home minister Shah.

‘Article 370’ also has a scene where terrorist Yasin Malik, who had a free run for decades despite being prime accused in several sensational cases, being grabbed by the collar by a woman officer of NIA, again something which has so far been discussed only in officer’s mess of agencies.

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William Murphy

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