The Union government’s decision to revoke Article 370, bifurcate Jammu & Kashmir and downgrade the state to Union Territory status, was supported by all the three regional Telugu parties in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This despite the fact that unlike the AIADMK or Shiv Sena, none of them is a member of the NDA.
Chandrababu Naidu took to Twitter to say “Telugu Desam party supports the Union govt as it seeks to repeal Article 370. I pray for the peace and prosperity of the people of J&K.”
Son Nara Lokesh too seconded Naidu’s endorsement, tweeting, “I welcome the decision of the Union govt to scrap Article 370. I hope that the people of J&K witness peace and development.”
The TDP’s bete noire, the YSR Congress too was on the same page. Rajya Sabha MP Vijayasai Reddy gushed in the House saying, “Hats off to the Home minister and the PM for their vision. This will completely solve the Kashmir problem. The bold and courageous step by the Home minister will be remembered in the Indian Parliamentary history forever. Our party president and our party wholeheartedly support the move.”
The TRS too voted for the Bill, its spokesperson pointing out that the party never opposed the Bill. Privately, the party admitted it went with the majoritarian mood.
The move was a surprise because TRS chief and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is a major advocate of federalism. Yet he had no problem in supporting the Bill that does not enjoy the support of a majority of the elected stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Valley.
The TDP and the TRS have in the past spoken about Telugu and Telangana atmagauravam (self-respect) respectively. Which means they put a premium on respecting the will of the people. Monday showed it is merely a hollow slogan. Or perhaps when it comes to others, they do not walk the talk.
Because the proposal to downgrade Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a Union Territory (even if temporary, going by Amit Shah’s word) is humiliation of the people of Kashmir. The presence of a Lt Governor now will mean rule effectively from Delhi as the office will be used to block any move by the elected government that is not palatable to the powers-that-be in the national capital.
The position taken by both the TDP and YSRCP would be seen as hypocritical by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Because on one hand, Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy demand special status for Andhra Pradesh and on the other hand, they voted to remove the special status of a different kind that Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed.
Both parties had also argued during the bifurcation of united Andhra Pradesh that it was being done against the will of the people of 13 districts of the state. In this instance, they did not squeak a word about how the prominent public representatives were put under house arrest and the sentiment on the ground in Kashmir ignored, while the Centre had its way.
In fact, when the then Andhra Pradesh Legislature rejected the AP Reorganisation Bill and yet Parliament had its way and carved out Telangana, Naidu’s grouse was that this was a violation of the federal spirit of the Constitution.
It is significant to note that Farooq Abdullah had even campaigned for Naidu in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. With this decision as with his earlier decision to indirectly support the NDA by abstaining from voting on the Triple Talaq bill, Naidu has clearly decided he cannot continue his antagonistic position vis-a-vis Modi and Amit Shah. He has pressed the reset button over Triple Talaq and Kashmir.