Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made his first address to the nation following the momentous move by his government earlier in the week to scrap Section 370 pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir thereby integrating the state with India like never before, and also its bifurcation into two Union Territories - J&K and Ladakh.
The Prime Minister began his address by saying that scrapping Article 370 was a historic decision and stressed on the fact that Kashmiris were deprived of benefits and development because of special status, but now, Jammu and Kashmir won't be left behind.
PM Modi praised the democratic strength of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, however, he said that despite having the power to vote in the Lok Sabha polls the people who crossed the border from Pakistan to India after Partition did not enjoy the rights to vote in the Vidhan Sabha and Panchayat elections due to Article 370 and its provisions..
Questioning if the inequality meted out to these people, Modi said, "I'm confident that with this new beginning, we will make the heaven state of Jammu and Kashmir better. The standard of living of the citizens will improve and infrastructure will receive a major boost. The status of Union Territory for the state of Jammu and Kashmir will not last forever. Yes, Ladakh will remain as a Union Territory."
PM Modi assured the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir that they will have a legislative assembly headed by a Chief Minister just as before and that the representatives would be chosen by the people themselves. He recollected the time when the leaders who were elected in the Panchayat elections came to visit him at Delhi and appraised their efforts to work for the welfare of the state and in making sure there is no open-defecation, 100% electricity to all villages and many more initiatives. PM Modi highlighted the efforts of the women Panchayat members and praised their abilities.
"I am sure that with the newfound enthusiasm, we the citizens of India will be able to help Jammu and Kashmir along with Ladakh to grow significantly and become a state that is devoid of corruption and terrorism", he said.
It was Home Minister Amit Shah who had moved the two bills and two resolutions that had the effect of mainstreaming of all the residents of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. They were cleared by both houses of Parliament with a clear majority, with a number of Opposition parties also backing the bill, including the TDP and AAP, plus the YSRCP. The Prime Minister was in the Lok Sabha when Shah replied to the Opposition. He was given a rousing desk-thumping welcome when he took his seat.