It was a big test we passed successfully, says Mehbooba
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said that implementation of Goods and Services Tax in Jammu and Kashmir, along with "safeguards" to protect the state's special position, was the "first big challenge" for the PDP-BJP Agenda of Alliance that talks of maintaining a status-quo on Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
"It was a big test for us and we passed it successfully," Mehbooba said in her speech in the Legislative Council while welcoming the "protection granted" to J&K's special status in the presidential order on GST.
The chief minister said there is a commitment between PDP and BJP in the AoA that the status-quo would be maintained on the existing constitutional position of the state.
"Today when the time came, they (BJP) showed that they stand by the commitment," said Mehbooba. "I thank the alliance partner and my colleagues for supporting us to win this war with dignity. We have restored the dignity of our Assembly and the credit for this goes to the Centre as well."
She said President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's approval—"without changing a single word"—to the draft presidential order prepared by the state government to ensure protection of state's special position has sent a message in the state that the coalition government has "fulfilled its commitment".
Thanking BJP for "fully supporting" the AoA, Mehbooba said "today has been the bigger win for our country's democracy."
Referring to state's special position in Union of India, Mehbooba said entire India was waiting for J&K to take a decision on the GST already implemented in all other states.
She said her father late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed would often reiterate that J&K Assembly was the "most empowered Assembly in India."
"We have realized it today when the entire country was waiting for us to take the decision," she said.
Taking a dig at the previous regimes, Mehbooba said for the past seven decades, different central laws and amendments to the Constitution of India were extending to the state in a "secretive and hidden manner."
"It is for the first time that J&K Assembly today discussed a resolution to adopt something from the Union of India. It gives us immense happiness…otherwise we know what happened to their (National Conference's Autonomy) resolution that was passed with 2/3rd support in the Assembly," she said.
Talking about her government's decision to debate GST in the Assembly, Mehbooba said "we have now laid a rule for governments to come to openly discuss and debate sensitive issues pertaining to state's special position in the House."
"Now onwards, nothing can be done in secretly, behind the doors and everything has to be put to a debate in the Legislature," she said, expressing gratitude to Modi and Mukherjee for "approving every word" of the state's draft oresidential Order on GST.
"I am happy that the President and the Prime Minister respected the sentiments and emotions of people and approved our draft document that has restored the dignity of our Assembly," Mehbooba said. "It has never happened before."
Referring to Kashmir problem, Mehbooba said only Prime Minister Modi has the "courage and power" to take J&K "out of the sufferings."
"I have been repeatedly saying that if any person has the courage to resolve the problems faced by people of J&K, it is Modi Ji," she said, and thanked the finance minister Haseeb Drabu and his team and senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig on implementation of GST "along with safeguards to state's fiscal autonomy and Article 370."