Move to scrap Article 370 began while drafting 2019 poll manifesto!

The revoking of Article 370 and Article 35A that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and special privileges to its permanent residents have been a long-standing objective of BJP and before that, its precursor, the Jana Sangh.  However, BJP sources indicates that actual preparations began simultaneously with the drafting of the party’s manifesto for the 2019 general elections.

The finalisation of the resolutions and bills that were passed on Monday sped up after the Lok Sabha results were announced, with the massive mandate it received (303 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha) giving the party confidence that it could fulfil one of its poll promises.

The demand has also consistently been raised by the RSS, the ideological parent of the BJP, which perceived these articles as an impediment in the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India. Things started gathering momentum after Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Srinagar  on June 26 along with the director of the Intelligence Bureau Arvind Kumar and home secretary Rajiv Gauba.

While there was total agreement within the national security establishment that these articles should be scrapped, internal security agencies had flagged concerns over the possibility of violence in the Valley. However, the government decided to go ahead after factoring in inputs from RAW chief Goel’s July 11 visit and NSA Doval’s July 23 one to the Valley.

Significantly, army chief General Bipin Rawat visited the Valley in June as well as in July to keep his army commanders on their toes. Doval also held a meeting with the three military and the three intelligence chiefs (including NTRO) on July 24 in this context.

But the endgame that culminated in home minister Amit Shah’s historic statement in Parliament  started playing out as recently as July 5, when the Research and Analysis Wing’s new chief Samant Goel called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the PMO. In the course of the conversation, Goel mentioned to the PM that India perhaps had a month to fully integrate Kashmir with itself.

After that, the spy agency chief warned, things could spin out of control: the US would fully engage with Pakistan to strike a deal with the Taliban over Afghanistan, key to its exit from the country. That, Goel warned, could result in a deal between the US and the Pakistan-supported Taliban by September 1, following which Washington could choose to reward Islamabad for its role with the resumption of military and economic aid. That could see an intensification of Islamabad’s direct and indirect sponsorship of terror groups operating in Kashmir.

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