The BJP, which takes pride in having got rid of the special status granted to Jammu & Kashmir through Article 370 of the Constitution, is all for preserving two vestiges of the pre-1947 Dogra monarchy: two capitals and the ‘darbar move’ from winter capital Jammu to summer capital Srinagar in April-May, and from Srinagar to Jammu in October-November. The practice of shifting the seat of government twice a year was started by Dogra king Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1872, alongside the introduction of the Ranbir Penal Code, which continued to be used instead of the Indian Penal Code in J&K so long as Article 370 was in force. “This won’t be changed,” says the BJP’s J&K general secretary Ashok Koul, though the party’s state spokesman Arun Gupta says it is the government’s prerogative to take a call. “But our position is that the arrangement of having two capital cities and the durbar move must continue,” says Gupta.
The authorities who were quick to remove the state flag from the civil secretariat in Srinagar, are keen to make Hindi an official language and willing to led outsiders buy land assert that the government has not decided anything about the darbar move, which is seen as a waste of public money and resources. Senior officials in the law department insist the practice of moving the civil secretariat from Srinagar to Jammu and back, which costs over Rs 100 crore according to government estimates, is likely to stay. The J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, which bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union territories, is silent about the capital cities and the darbar move. J&K government spokesperson Rohit Kansal refused to talk on the issue.