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J&K state reduced to a glorified municipality: Harsh

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Jammu, July 28 | Harsh Dev Singh, Chairman, JKNPP & former observed that transition of J&K to UT not only amounted to the demotion of State as well as of its people but also a mockery of the historic decision of Maharaja Hari Singh who acceded the Dogra State to the Union of India by executing the Instrument of Accession on 26th October 1947. He said that the BJP govt’s decision of downgrading the said State had not only humiliated the creators of this State and its proud citizens but had further weakened and debilitated democracy in J&K besides causing its political dis-empowerment.

Harsh dev pointed out that the elected representatives in the new systems would lose most of the powers which were conferred upon them as regular members of the state legislature. While the new arrangement in the UT would witness disempowerment of the MLAs and Ministers to a great extent, the Union govt and its nominated functionaries would have an enhanced role in the affairs of the new set up. Not only the role of political executive in the affairs of state would get diminished in the new UT, but the legislative powers of the legislators would also be prejudicially affected, said Harsh Dev Singh.

Elucidating his point, Harsh Dev said that a bill passed by state legislature can be returned once by the Governor for reconsideration of the legislators and if it is again passed by them in the same form, the Governor can’t decline assent to the bill. In a Union Territory, however, the Lt Governor is empowered not only to propose amendments but can decline to give approval to the bill and send any bill to the President of India for his consideration. Further, certain bills have necessarily to be presented to the President of India for his assent and approval.

The law-making powers of the elected representatives therefore also become subjective and restrictive in a UT”, pointed Harsh dev. He was addressing a press conference in Jammu.

“Making the political executive subservient to bureaucracy was most likely to prove counterproductive besides adversely impacting the administrative functioning in a political system. It is an anti-theses to the very spirit of democracy. The MLAs, Ministers and the Chief Minister would lose not only in terms of powers but in position and stature as well with several constitutional authorities and bureaucrats attaining positions higher than them in the administrative hierarchy as enunciated in the warrant of precedence”. He said that J&K was earlier an independent state with a Maharaja. It was followed by a Prime Minister and Sadar-e-Riyasat for the state which eventually made way for CM and Governor. And now with a lame CM’s post and Lt Governor to take over, it had got reduced to a glorified municipality, rued Singh.

While abrogation of Art 370 and allied provisions could make some sense, the downgrading of a 200-year-old Dogra state was an absurd act of histrionics that could not be justified by any stretch of the imagination. He said that such a move had not only lowered the morale of the people of the Jammu region but caused huge disenchantment in their hearts and minds. He said that it was the only Dogra state in the country that was conceptualized and created by Dogra rulers with countless sacrifices made by the warrior clan. “ History bears the testimony that J&K State acceded to Union of India in 1947 which was only due to the historic decision taken by then Maharaja Hari Singh despite all pressures. The demotion of the state to the level of Union Territory was not only unprecedented in the history but amounted to huge disparagement of the patriotic Dogras of Jammu region”, he said.

Seeking a separate state for the Jammu region, Harsh Dev Singh cautioned the Union govt to stop taking the people of the region for granted. He regretted that the mandated leaders of the Jammu region remained tight-lipped in the Parliament and failed to safeguard or protect the interests of the region and no objection whatsoever was raised when the entire province was again proposed as a colony of subjugation for Kashmir and announced as a UT through the Re-organization Bill. “Statehood for Jammu only can satiate the urges and aspirations of the people. Give our State back to us”, Harsh asserted.

Surinder Chouhan, District President Jammu (Rural)-JKNPP & Gurdeep Singh @Raju, District Secretary Jammu (Rural)-JKNPP were also present in the press conference.

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