There are many layers in understanding this.
Legally removing Article 370 was never difficult. It was the social and political issues that always came in the way.
The fear of such a big decision was always massive riots and turmoil in the valley because a loud part of the state never wanted this. So, the previous government, in the name of “peace”, among various reasons, never wanted or even tried to remove Article 370.
(Courtesy: India Today)
In addition, Congress always had vote bank politics in mind. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that they were scared of losing Muslim support across the country if they revoked Article 370. And it wasn’t something they were thrilled to do.
One must also consider the reasons why Article 370 existed in the first place; what was the intent of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and President back in the day. Jammu and Kashmir have its own challenges. Yes, it’s an integral land of the country. But then we must also think about the people who live on that land. Congress, to an extent, always wanted to preserve that legacy that, on many levels, reflects the secular and libertarian values of the country. Enforcing a diktat on the people of Kashmir went against its philosophies.
(Courtesy: India Today)
Things are quite different for this BJP government. BJP made Kashmir a big issue in its election campaign. It was in their manifesto that they would remove Article 370.
Of course, this was highly politically motivated. RSS and its affiliates picked the issue of Kashmiri pundit issue with full force in the past decade to an extent that they managed to aggravate the sentiments of the Hindus across the country. So, to appease these voters who voted for BJP again, BJP had no other option but to remove Article 370. It’s appeasement politics.
Moreover, even though BJP managed to form a government with PDP the previous time, it never really enjoyed significant support in the state. So, they weren’t much scared of upsetting the Kashmiris. And they were never really scared of upsetting the Muslims in the country – a demography that never really mattered in BJP’s politics. And it was evident in how they aggressively dealt with dissent protests in the valley.
Also, let’s not forget, away from the conservative nature of the Congress, voters picked BJP for its radical and confrontational ideas. People always cheered this government for its aggressive stance against Pakistan – something that Congress never tried to win votes on. So, the more confrontational this government is under the garb of Nationalist propaganda, the more it will get cheered.Removing Article 370 almost guaranteed BJP to win massive support even from across different party lines.
(Courtesy: Hindustan Times)
So, removing Article 370 was never “impossible” or “extremely difficult”. It was always about will and political gain. Congress never really cared about it; it never stood to win anything from this move. BJP, on the other hand, had the will because its vote percent was at the stake.
Hope this answers your question.