SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir's main opposition party, National Conference, has advised the government to ask its ally BJP and the Centre for help against attempts to alter Constitutional provisions that give special status to the state, political sources said today.
This was conveyed to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during her surprise visit to National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah's residence last evening, amid the debate on Article 35A of the Constitution, which gives special status to the state under Article 370.
The National Conference, which has 15 MLAs in the 87member state assembly, told the chief minister that she needs to convince the central leadership, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to defend the state's special status in the Supreme Court, which is hearing a PIL on the issue, the sources said.
The provision, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state's "permanent residents" and their special rights and privileges, has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
PDP, with 28 MLAs, was asked to take on board its alliance partner BJP, which has 25 MLAs, in forging a common platform on the issue before reaching out to opposition leaders, the sources said.
Abdullah told Mehbooba she should meet the prime minister and all important central ministers and also the BJP to convince the Sangh Parivar, they said.
The controversy erupted in 2014 after an NGO 'We the Citizens' filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking that Article 35A be struck down.
The PIL said the state government, under the guise of Article 35A and Article 370, which grants special autonomous status to the state, has been discriminating against nonresidents who are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.
Article 35A was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954.
While the Jammu and Kashmir government contested the petition saying the president had the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an order, the Centre recently expressed its reservations. It filed a reply and requested the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar to refer the matter to a larger bench as constitutional issues were involved in the case.
Mehbooba had said at a recent event in Delhi that there would be no one in Kashmir to uphold the national flag if Article 35A was tinkered with.
By challenging Article 35A in the Supreme Court, none of the separatist groups in the Valley were getting affected as they were on a different agenda all together, she said.
"But you are weakening those powers which are Indian and trust India and participate in elections and who fight to live a life honourably in Jammu and Kashmir. This is one of the problems," she had said last month in Delhi.