P Chidambaram called the manner in which the decision to take away Article 370 and reduce the state of Jammu & Kashmir to a Union territory was taken, a “monstrosity”. That was just the trigger needed for his critics to remind him of the manner in which the UPA handled the move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh when it was in power.
In some ways, the two decisions had their similarities.
Just as the revocation of Article 370 meant turning the clock back on the agreement arrived at in 1954, the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh also meant violating the spirit of the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines in 1956. If the UPA did not have an issue with the latter, there is no reason for it to criticise the BJP for revoking Article 370. Especially when the BJP has promised to take away Article 370 in every election manifesto.
The BJP has been criticised for ramming in the changes when the state is under President’s rule, circumventing the established procedure that changes of this nature need the concurrence of the State Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir. It is alleged that this has been done by design otherwise the Election Commission would have held the assembly elections alongside the Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2019. The argument goes when one EVM could be put inside a booth, there should have been no problem in putting a second one.
The UPA can argue that the view of the Andhra Pradesh Legislature in contrast, was taken into consideration. But did it matter?
Because the numbers were loaded in favour of Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, the the Andhra Pradesh Legislature in January 2014 rejected by a voice vote any move to carve out Telangana. Yet the UPA accepting that the public opinion in Telangana was in favour of bifurcation, went ahead disregarding what the state assembly had to say and cleared the AP Reorganisation Bill in February 2014.
The Congress criticised the manner in which the Bill was introduced, sending forces into Jammu & Kashmir, cutting off communication lines, closing educational institutions. At this point, Amit Shah reminded P Chidambaram and company of the manner in which the AP Reorganisation Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha.
“Have you forgotten how you divided Andhra Pradesh and how the AP Reorganisation Bill was passed in the House by throwing out members using marshals (sergeants), shutting doors and blocking live telecast? In contrast, we had a proper debate on Article 370 and the Opposition voiced its views,” said Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha.
The following day, Shah was to make the same reference during the debate in the Lok Sabha. This time, he said
this is not a black day, the black day was when such methods were used during the AP Reorganisation Bill debate.'' The TRS raised objection to the phrase black day used to describe the creation of Telangana.