BSP backs govt on J&K bill in Lok Sabha, lashes out at Congress

NEW DELHI: The Bahujan Samaj Party on Saturday supported the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha and lashed out at the Congress for its opposition to the government’s measures that it said are in “support” of the poor, Dalits and other deprived communities in the union territory.

Its MP Malook Nagar said backward communities like Gujjar and Backarwal had been deprived of their rights in Jammu and Kashmir for long and are now getting their due, a reference to the Modi government’s move to roll out reservation for them in line with the national quota after the erstwhile state’s special status was revoked with the annulment of Article 370 of the Constitution in 2019.

Mayawati-led BSP had also backed the government on its move to abrogate Article 370.

Her party is not part of the BJP-led alliance and had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the SP against the BJP.

It has since nuanced its position.

Participating in the discussion on the bill, Nagar was spirited in support of the government and was equally strong in his criticism of the Congress, saying its leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra eat meals in poor households but oppose the Centre’s pro-poor policies.

They are not opposing the government but the poor, he alleged.

He also mocked Rahul Gandhi for his speech during a discussion on the Union budget, saying he delivered his address and then left as a professor does after giving a lecture to students.

“We (BSP) are also in the opposition but are getting a bad name,” he said, as the treasure benches repeatedly cheered at his remarks.

What is the harm if good officers from other parts of the country serve Jammu and Kashmir, he asked, supporting the bill that seeks to replace the ordinance to merge the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cadre of civil services officer with the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.

DMK’s T Sumathy Thamizhachi Thangapandian opposed the bill and alleged that the government has imposed a host of “draconian” laws on the country.

It is a serious blow to a state’s rights, she asserted.

BJP’s Satya Pal Singh said the proposed law will help the Centre usher in all-round development of the union territory and push its full integration with the rest of the country.

This will allow the government to punish those officers who do not act properly by transferring them outside.

TMC’s Saugata Roy opposed the bill, saying it is against the principles of the Constitution.

It will also affect the career prospects of the J&K cadre officers, he said.

He also spoke about the revocation of Article 370, wondering what it has brought to Jammu and Kashmir and noting that for the first time a state was reduced to the status of a union territory.

Democratic rights of people were taken away, he said.

YSR Congress’ Chinta Anuradha supported the bill “wholeheartedly”, and said it will allow the government to fill up the big deficiency of officers there and boost development activities.

JD(U)’s Rajiv Ranjan Singh supported the bill and took a dig at the opposition members who brought up the issue of revocation of Article 370, dubbing it as “vidhwa wilap” (a widow’s cry).

“Whatever had to happen has happened, and there is no point raking it up now,” he said, noting that his party had also not supported the measure then.

Development is taking place at a fast pace in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.