Rahul Gandhi on Monday demanded statehood for the Union Territory of Ladakh and moved an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha seeking suspension of business to discuss Ladakh’s statehood and inclusion in Schedule VI of the Constitution.
Two years ago, the Centre had scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by repealing provisions of Articles 370 and 35A and divided the erstwhile state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Many Ladakhis had then welcomed the separate Union Territory status, but now the demand for statehood is getting louder.
“I wanted to raise the Ladakh issue and the struggle which my brothers and sisters in Ladakh are going through, asking for their rights, for their statehood,” Rahul told reporters on Parliament premises after his adjournment motion was rejected.
Rahul added: “I want to raise their issue in Parliament and support them, but unfortunately the government doesn’t allow us to raise the issue. I want to send a message to everyone in Ladakh that we are with you and we are going to raise your issue.”
In his adjournment notice, Rahul had sought to underline the importance of forming a committee with stakeholders from the two key regions of the Union Territory, Buddhist-majority Leh and Muslim-majority Kargil, a division the ruling BJP tends to play upon.
The notice, under the broad demand “Statehood and inclusion of Ladakh in Schedule VI of the Constitution of India”, sought to discuss the constitution of a committee made up of representatives from both regions.
“To constitute a committee with stakeholders, including members from the Leh Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), to consider their demands; and to take urgent actions to ensure unhindered access to pasture lands in the border areas that were traditionally accessible,” the notice said.
Replying to reporters’ questions about the government’s allegation that the Opposition was not allowing the House to run and take up key issues, Rahul said the responsibility of running Parliament belonged to the government and not the Opposition.
“We want the government to remove the minister (junior home minister Ajay Mishra Teni) and have a discussion in the House on Lakhimpur Kheri (carnage) but the government doesn’t allow it. We want to raise the Ladakh issue, the government is not allowing it. On all important issues, including the farmers, the government is not ready for discussion,” Rahul said.
“How can the government accuse us (Opposition) of not allowing the House to run? It’s the government’s responsibility to bring Parliament in order,” he added.