NEW DELHI: The opposition in Lok Sabha on Tuesday accused the government of not consulting "stakeholders" before taking a decision on abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir, a charge rejected by treasury benches which said Parliament represents the will of the people.
Participating in the debate on the resolution for abrogating some provisions of Article 370, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill and the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, opposition members said the decisions should have been taken by the state legislature.
Intervening in the debate, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said Parliament represents 130 crore people.
"Who could be a bigger stakeholder," he shot back.
The Trinamool Congress walked out of House proceedings, saying it does not want to be a party to either supporting or opposing the move to abrogate provisions of Article 370 and the reorganisation draft law.
TMC leader Sudip Bandhyopadhyay said while the party supports the reservation bill, it opposes the motion on Article 370 and the reorganisation bill.
He said the government should have consulted leaders of various national parties before taking a decision.
The TMC also expressed concern over the reported detention of NC leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti.
Initiating the debate on the motions, Congress's Manish Tewari tried to trace the origins of Article 370 and said the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir chose to accede with India.
However, there were some special provisions while joining the Union of India, he said.
Slamming the government, he said the government cannot change the boundaries of the state without consulting the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
"This is travesty of the Constitution (savidhnaik trasti)," Tewari said.
"This is not in the spirit of Parliament," he said.
Jugal Kishore (BJP) asked whether states which do not enjoy special status under Article 370 are not developing.
He said it was due to the special provision that industries are not coming up in the state as people cannot purchase land.
He said women from Kashmir, who marry outsiders, have to forego their rights on property and voting.
T R Baalu (DMK) said assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir should have been held along with Lok Sabha polls.
He said even then the government should have got the resolution and the bill passed as it has a "brute" majority.
Baalu claimed that by splitting the state into two union territories, two "municipalities" are being created.
"They would be looked into by two joint secretaries," he said.
Intervening in the debate, Jitendra Singh said the then Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Sheikh Abdullah had described the constitutional provision as a "stumbling block" in the state's development.
The then home minister Gulzarilal Nanda too had said in Lok Sabha that the sense of the House is to abrogate Article 370.
He had said the government needed time, Singh said.
The union minister accused the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru of violating the collective responsibility of the Cabinet by interfering in the functioning of his home minister Vallabhbhai Patel.
He also accused Nehru of announcing unilateral ceasefire against Pakistan without taking his cabinet into confidence.
He said there would have been no Pakistan Occupied Kashmir had the ceasefire not taken place.
Raghurama Krishnam Raju of the YSR Congress hailed the government, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fulfilled Sardar Patel's dream.
Union minister Arvind Sawant, who is from the Shiv Sena, said the government has fulfilled the dream of his party's founder Bal Thackeray.
BJD's Pinaki Misra also supported the resolutions and bills on Jammu and Kashmir and said a historic error has been rectified.
But in a word of caution, he said, the decision on Article 370 is bound to be challenged sooner or later in the Supreme Court.
He also noted that the apex court in some of its orders had termed it as a permanent part of the Constitution.
Article 370 is in fact a temporary provision, he added.
Coming down heavily on the government for its decision on J&K, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said it is "legislative authoritarianism" and a breath taking betrayal.
Noting that the tradition of consultations and deliberations lie in shreds, he described the latest move as "political equivalent of demonetisation".
Tharoor stressed that no one has to teach Congress party about nationalism as it is the original party of nationalism.
"We are a large-hearted country and not be a petty (one)," he said.
Amid criticism, Tharoor said that Nehru did not do anything on his own regarding Article 370 and that discussions were held with Sheikh Abdullah and Patel.
Jitendra Singh responded to certain comments made by Tharoor and while he was speaking, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was also seen making some remarks but was not audible.
In response to his remarks wondering when would 'achhe din' (good days) come, members from the treasury benches said it has already come.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, leader of Akali Dal and part of the ruling NDA, said his party believes in protection of minorities and stand for a strong, united India.
The minorities in J&K were feeling suppressed and congratulated the government for its decision.
He also mentioned that Punjab is a state without a capital or a high court of its own.
CPI-M member A M Ariff said the move is the biggest attack on national unity and that the country is passing through an undeclared emergency.
Opposing the bill to bifurcate J&K, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said it was a historic mistake and a dishonourable step.
The government believes in alchemy and not in science and is a neophyte when it comes to statecraft, he said, adding that the latest decision would have a grave impact on Naga problem.
Mentioning about restrictions imposed in J&K, Owaisi said that Srinagar has been created on one side and West Bank on the other.
TDP's Jayadev Galla said there should be a road map for statehood of J&K and also called for restoration of normalcy at the earliest.
During the discussion, Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel criticised Manish Tewari for his earlier comments in the House about Patel.