Congress, National Conference vow to uphold Jammu and Kashmir's special status

Srinagar: Ahead of the special session of the Jammu and Kashmir legislature beginning on Saturday to discuss the extension of the GST regime to the state, opposition Congress and National Conference on Friday vowed to uphold the special status guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The parties held separate meetings with their party legislators in Srinagar on Friday to discuss the issue.

"A meeting of party legislators was held to debate and discussed the special session convened on GST by the government and vowed to uphold the special status of the state," a spokesman of the state unit of Congress said.

He said the members expressed their reservations with regard to the implementation of GST and vowed to fight against any "misadventure, besides safeguarding fiscal and political autonomy" of the State.

"The GST in its present form is unacceptable," the spokesman said and cautioned of "serious consequences" in case it is "implemented in hurry".

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Congress Legislature Party decided to oppose any move aimed at "harming" financial autonomy and prevent "dilution" of fiscal autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir.

"There has to be a policy in the pipeline to safeguard the financial interests of the State while implementing the GST regime, thereby ensuring that the special status of the State is not eroded in any way," the spokesman said.

National Conference, the main opposition in the state, also held a day-long 'orientation session' on the issue of GST for party legislators and leaders at the party headquarters in Srinagar.

The orientation session was conducted by NC state spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu and was addressed by provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani and former finance minister Mohammad Shafi Uri, the party said in a statement in Srinagar.

The statement said the orientation program delved into the factors and ramifications of the possible extension of GST to the state in its present form and highlighted how such a "misadventure" would dilute the state's political and fiscal autonomy.

In his address, Uri highlighted the political importance of opposing the extension of a Central Law to J&K and delved into the content and significance of the 1952 Delhi Agreement.

"It is important to note that a dilution of our powers of taxation would be a death blow to the state's autonomy and would render the State more vulnerable to the extension of more central laws through presidential orders - something that hasn't happened post 1977 owing to National Conference's stoic and consistent policy of defending the State's special status at all costs," the NC leader said.

Mattu highlighted the difference between the GST regime and the existing tax structure and system in the state. He said the state draws the power to levy taxes from Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir as opposed to the Central Government and other states drawing this power from Article 246 of the Constitution of India.

"If GST regime is implemented in its present form, the state will then - like all other states - derives this power from Article 246 of the Constitution of India - which is an enormous constitutional and political disempowerment", Mattu said.

Updated Date: Jun 16, 2017 22:33 PM

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