The Centre’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was a carefully choreographed act that played out in the Rajya Sabha, monitored by Home Minister Amit Shah and executed in complete secrecy by his colleagues Pralhad Joshi and others, sources said.
The dress rehearsal: was done days earlier when the government successfully passed the RTI amendment and the triple talaq bills in the Upper House, where the BJP-led NDA lacks majority, they said.
It was all a lead-up to Shah introducing the resolution revoking provisions of Article 370 giving Jammu and Kashmir special status and moving the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 to split the state into two union territories in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, sources in the know said.
Phone calls: Acting in accordance with a tightly scripted plan, phone calls were made to several region satraps, including YSR Congress chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy, BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as well as TRS founder and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao. Communication with BSP supremo Mayawati was established through her party leader Satish Chandra Mishra, they said. Apart from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joshi, those that played a key role in floor management in the Upper House were Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan. Later, C M Ramesh who recently joined the BJP from TDP, also chipped in, the insiders said.
The floor test: The responsibility of talking to floor leaders and ensuring numbers in favour of the resolution and the bill was distributed among these four leaders. The planning was so detailed that each of the four involved in the floor management was assigned to talk to one MP of each party that is a fence sitter, such as the YSR Congress, BSP, BJD or TRS, and even to those more hostile towards the BJP, the sources said. Only three to four ministers, who were also involved in floor management, were aware that a big decision related to Jammu and Kashmir was expected and they had to ensure its passage, they said.
Drafting of legislation: As far as drafting and shape of the legislation was concerned, only Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah were involved, they added. The government was confident of success after witnessing the relatively easy passage of the RTI and triple talaq bills. For the resolution on Article 370, 125 voted in favour while 61 were against it. In the triple talaq bill, the margin was narrower — 99 for and 84 against. The RTI amendment bill was passed after negating an opposition-sponsored motion to send it to a House committee for greater scrutiny with 117 members voting against the motion and 75 members for it.