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‘Challenge Congress to say they will bring back Article 370’: PM Modi

In an exclusive interview with a TV Network, Prime Minister Narendra Modi challenged the Congress or state governments to restore Article 370. Responding to Network18 Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi’s question on the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s claims that she won’t allow the enforcement of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Modi said, “First of all, whoever understands the Constitution of India, whoever knows the federal structure of India, and whoever knows what is in whose jurisdiction, won’t ever say such things. Because this is not in their jurisdiction. If Modi is the chief minister of a state, he can’t do such things. The central government will do what is in its ambit. A state government will do whatever is in its ambit. But fooling the people is a trend nowadays – to keep them in the dark. That’s why they keep saying anything at all.”

“Second, I challenge the Congress party to hold a press conference and say they will restore 370. They talk big about the Constitution. They talk about Babasaheb Ambedkar. They abuse us so much. But Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution was not applicable for the entire nation. For 70 years, the Indian Constitution was not applicable in Jammu and Kashmir. There, Dalits are getting reservation for the first time [after the Article 370 move]. The Valmiki community is getting reservation for the first time. What are they talking about? Do they have the courage to hold a press conference and say, “We’ll bring back Article 370?” Can any party dare say that?” Modi said.

The Centre, in March 2024, announced the implementation of the CAA. The purpose of this bill is to give Indian citizenship to refugees of six communities (Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis), who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The CAA was an integral part of the BJP’s manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. While the government maintains the law is not against Muslims or will not take away citizenship of India’s Muslims, the exclusion of the community has led to criticism from the Opposition. The National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is in place in Assam, looks to maintain a record of citizens. Earlier, the Centre had said that those left out of the Assam NRC could get reprieve if they apply for citizenship under CAA.

Then President Ram Nath Kovind on August 5, 2019, declared abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. This meant the separate Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to be in operation and the Central government got the power to redraw the map of the erstwhile state, which thereafter became a Union Territory (UT). The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir became Lieutenant Governor.

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