The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, has once again assured the Northeastern states that the “Centre would never touch or dilute Article 371”.
Concerns of the people are escalating over the rapid changes happening overnight. With the final National Register of Citizens list being updated following which 19.07 lakh people are being deemed as ‘foreigners’ in Assam, and abrogation of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir four weeks ago, there has been speculation in the Northeast about the same happening to Article 371.
Still, here is a quick overview and understanding of the most talked about Article in the Constitution of India this month- Article 371. This act includes special provisions for 11 states, with 6 in the Northeastern region, namely Nagaland, Assam, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. With respect to Sikkim, the Article 371F (36th Amendment Act, 1975) declares that members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect representatives of Sikkim in the House of the People (Lok Sabha) – protection of rights and interests of the various communities in Sikkim facilitated by providing Assembly seats to representatives of those sections.
The simplest difference between special status and special provision is that the former has greater autonomous legislative and political rights and the latter has been created to safeguard interests of various communities’ economic, administrative and financial rights.
The Minister has also addressed the government’s aims of making the Northeast highly developed in the near future. How it goes, only time will tell.