With the abolition of Article 370 of the Constitution, the 10 states other than Jammu and Kashmir which enjoy special category status have come into focus, say political analysts. These are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
“This (abrogation) might serve as a template for other special category states," said Arvind Kumar, assistant professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Jamia Millia Islamia.
“This might set a precedent but Kashmir has been a priority for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Never before a state has been downgraded. You don’t do this in a democracy. You don’t go to war against your own people. One can’t have a military solution to a political situation," said Neera Chandhoke, a former professor of political science at Delhi University.
Special category status was granted in the past by the National Development Council on the recommendations of the Planning Commission to states that needed special consideration. The features include: (i) hilly and difficult terrain; (ii) low population density and/or a sizeable tribal population; (iii) strategic location; (iv) economic backwardness; and (v) non-viable nature of state finances.
“This is a good decision and I support it. This will promote unity and integrity in the country; but then what will happen to states like Sikkim?," said Hishey Lachungpa, member of Parliament from the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) party.
However, others believe that Kashmir is a one-off case.
“This is specific to Jammu and Kashmir to deal with the peculiar situation arisen over the last 70 years. Despite several attempts to find a solution, no answer was found. It was the only state having its own Constitution and a separate flag. This is not the case in other states which may have some special provision in the Constitution," said Sandeep Mahapatra, the only right-wing former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU).
The Union home ministry did not offer an official comment.
Abolishing Article 370 has been on the BJP’s agenda for long. “We are committed to overcome all obstacles that come in the way of development and provide adequate financial resources to all the regions of the state. We reiterate our position since the time of the Jana Sangh to the abrogation of Article 370," BJP said in its 2019 election manifesto.
“Congress did the same. There is a precedence in place. Decentralization would now come under attack specifically in zones of conflict," said a New Delhi-based academic requesting anonymity, whose focus area of research has been Kashmir’s conflict zone.
Nagaland, which has had an uneasy relationship with the mainland since the days of the late pro-independence leader Angami Zapu Phizo, is wary of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) promises because of the Naga Peace Accord, 2015, held up by slow progress of talks and the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.