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'Amit Shah has accomplished Sardar Patel's unfinished task'

August 09, 2019 14:47 IST

'Nehru's hegemonic politics has been responsible for many ills, which undoubtedly includes Kashmir'

'People are completely with the step taken by the Modi government'

'Kashmir is not a Hindu-Muslim problem'

IMAGE: Union Home Minister Amit Shah along with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and other leaders come out of Parliament after the passage of the J&K Reorganisation Bill by the Rajya Sabha. Photograph: Arun Sharma/PTI Photo

By scrapping the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has fulfilled the dream of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, whose slogan was 'Ek desh mein do vidhaan, do nishaan, do pradhaan nahin chalenge' (In one country, there can't be two laws, two prime ministers and two national symbols), in support of his demand that Jammu and Kashmir not be treated differently from other states in the country.

Dr Mookerjee virtually died for this slogan. He was arrested on May 11, 1953, when he tried to enter Kashmir to protest policies that -- at the time -- required Indians to carry an identity card to enter the state. He died in a Srinagar jail on June 23 the same year under circumstances the BJP still considers suspicious.

 

Sixty-six years later, the BJP government of Narendra Modi passed the bill in Parliament diluting Article 370 and splitting Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Dr Rakesh Sinha, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue and BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com that repealing Article 370 will pave the way for development and with this bold decision Modi has corrected a historical distortion.

History is made over centuries, sometimes maybe in decades, but Prime Minister Modi is in a tearing hurry to rewrite history, which he has done by diluting Article 370.

Scrapping of Article 370 was the reason Bharatiya Jan Sangh was formed by Syama Prasad Mookerjee and it surely must be a proud moment for the believers of Mookerjee.

Article 370 was inserted as an interim/temporary measure in the Constitution of India and it had been a hurdle in the process of both modernisation, development on the one hand and democratisation at the grass root level on the other. Ironically, the provision, which was supposed to be an administrative mechanism between the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union government, has also been used as a tool to fan separatism by vested interests and mischievously propagated as if it is the soul of the Valley.

Vote bank politics and perpetuation of Nehruvian perspective on J&K helped handful of anti-India forces to misrepresent the problem.  

The Narendra Modi government corrected this distortion by a historic and bold decision. The demand for repealing Article 370 has been a part of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP, manifesto since 1952 and the BJP’s stand on it remained unchanged. The decision received overwhelming support from the people and political parties. 

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder president of the BJS, sacrificed his life for the complete integration of J&K. The nation saluted his sacrifice and martyrdom and the credit goes to PM Modi and his Home Minister Amit Shah.

The Constituent Assembly reluctantly agreed on Article 370 as the logic was given by N Gopalaswami Ayyangar that the time was not ripe for full integration due to internal and external situations. In fact, he was expressing what Nehru liked and disliked. Unfortunately, Sardar Patel was home minister but J&K was kept out of his jurisdiction.

So how did other leaders lose to Nehru on the Kashmir issue? 

Nehru more than once succeeded in getting his wishes and philosophy imposed on the Constituent Assembly. His hegemonic politics and philosophy have been responsible for many ills, which undoubtedly includes Kashmir. 

He brought the Kashmir issue to United Nations with the advice of Lord Mountbatten, the then governor general. In many ways Nehru went against the collective conscience of his own party. He did this without discussion at the party forum or in the Cabinet.

His affection for Sheikh Abdullah could be understood by his role as his advocate when the Sheikh was arrested in 1947. Another example of his politics of hegemony was Lord Mountbatten’s appointment as the governor general in independent India. When the resolution was brought to the assembly for its endorsement, members were agitated and raised questions over when was the proposal discussed in the assembly and why should he be appointed.

This issue was never discussed in the Constituent Assembly which was adjourned and just to safeguard the prestige of Nehru (everybody gave in), Lord Mountbatten was appointed as governor general of India. The European mind was defining Indian nationalism and the crisis of J&K was superimposed on India.

IMAGE: A security person stands guard along a deserted street during restrictions in Kashmir. Kashmir has been in a communications black hole with phone lines being snapped, internet being curbed and almost no public transport on the streets. Photograph: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

Nehru always spoke of an inclusive India which is unity in diversity. But your party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh speak of uniformity of the nation.

Inclusiveness is a fundamental creed of our civilisation which is a cradle of modern India. We cannot abandon (it) and even imagine to do so. In fact, India without diversities loses its originality. 

The second RSS chief M S Golwalkar aptly said in an interview to the Motherland, an RSS daily, on August 23 1972, 'Nature abhors uniformity.' This forms the worldview of the RSS.

This cardinal principle has been more often than not expressed by Dr Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the RSS. He has aptly articulated that our diversities reflect in the rivers-ocean relationship. Rivers maintain independent identities, however, all merge into an ocean.

Modi got a mandate through free and fair elections and enjoys immense popularity among Indian people. His government is based on democratic principles. Repealing Article 370 does not mean advancement of uniformity. There is a difference between uniformity and unity. If this is uniformity then what was the merger of nearly 562 princely states in India by Sardar Patel?

Home Minister Amit Shah has accomplished the unfinished task of Sardar Patel. The government’s action received support from the parties who were opposed to the BJP-RSS earlier.

There is a difference between diversities and sub-nationalism. There is no sub-nationalism in India, but Nehruvian Left politics has been intended to define diversities as sub-nationalities, however, in vain.

The vice chairman of the Constituent Assembly Dr H C Mookerjee, who was Christian by faith, described India as one nation, one people. There were many people, like Naziruddin Ahmed, Tajamul Hussain, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur belonging to minority communities who emphatically supported this idea. Nehru revisited India from the western prism.

Inclusive India does not mean throwing of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland where they have been living for centuries. They were descendants of Abhinav Gupta. People talk of Kashmiriyat but have you read the name of Abhinav Gupta in any Kashmiri book? He is unknown to Kashmiri people and is an acclaimed scholar all over the world in the field of art. Kalhan is another man. Kalhan, a Kashmiri, was the author of Rajatarangini. Has anyone read about him? 

PM Modi’s politics is inclusive politics. Giving diversity a legitimate and respectable place does not mean sub-nationalism. Their diversity is sub-nationalism and our diversity is respecting each other and maintaining each other’s autonomy of ideas and lifestyles, which is inclusive.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee said Article 370 is a threat to national unity and it looks like even now it is a threat to national unity, as Kashmir is under curfew and the nation is divided over the passing of this bill.

I don’t know what the opposition parties mean. The Congress is a fractured party and a large number of Congress leaders from the old guard as well as young leaders have come out in support of repealing of Article 370.

Two parties which are opposed to RSS and BJP tooth and nail are Bahujan Samaj Party and Aam Aadmi Party and they have categorically supported the BJP on Article 370.

Even Jyotiraditya Scindia supported us. For the first time in the history of India, the ruling party has garnered support on Article 370.

What about when 55,000 Kashmiri families faced religious persecution instigated by Pakistani supporters and 58,000 families who migrated from Pakistan in the 1940s live in democratic deprivation? J&K means Jammu, which constitutes 29 per cent of its total area and also Ladakh which has 54 per cent of total area of the state. People are completely with the step taken by Modi government.

IMAGE: A boatman walks past the parked 'Shikaras' on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar. Business has been severely affected ever since the Centre deployed additional troops in J&K last week and asked all tourists to leave. Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters

Many say the dilution of Article 370 is a partition of minds and hearts. And India is imposing its view on Kashmiris.

Those people who are saying such things are using democracy selectively. Lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were thrown out and they do not have any grudge about that. J&K is a territory where 29 per cent land belongs to Jammu, 15 per cent belongs to the Valley and the rest --  around 55 per cent -- belongs to Ladakh.

In this, 54 lakh population belongs to Jammu, 68 lakh population belongs to Kashmir and around 3 lakh belong to Ladakh. There are Sikhs who are 2,34,000, Jains are 12,000 and Buddhists 1,12,000. So this is a multi-religious state and why do you bring up this Hindu-Muslim issue?

But this was the only Muslim state of India.

In a secular country you cannot call any state a Muslim state. What about Lakshwadeep -- the Union territory? It is dominated by Muslims and more than 90 per cent are Muslims. 

These things do not matter in a democracy. You cannot use secularism selectively. There are 35,000 Christians, more than two lakhs Sikhs, and 1.12 lakh Buddhists too in J&K. Why are you not talking about them too? We don’t talk of Jammu's view? Ladakh's view? And why do we want to talk only about the Valley's view?

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party workers celebrate the Union government's move to revoke Article 370 that gave special status to the Jammu and Kashmir, in Lucknow. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo

There must be some reason that Article 370 continued for so long in J&K?

What is the benefit and damage of Article 370? Let me explain. Due to Article 370, the Urban Land Ceiling Act could not be applicable in J&K. That is the reason feudalism continued in J&K and few families had control over most of the urban land. 

In Delhi, there is a ceiling on urban land. And these families of J&K were giving land on lease to hotels in different names and earning crores.

Panchayati Raj system was not applicable so grassroots democracy never went there.

Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, even Other Backward Class, did not get reservations. 

Thousands of people who had migrated from Pakistan during partition had a natural right to become citizens of India but they could not do so in J&K. And here in India two refugees from Pakistan became the prime minister of India -- I K Gujral and Dr Manmohan Singh. 

This is also against gender equality as the women of J&K have no equal rights to men. So how can anyone support patriarchy and feudalism? And now repealing Article 370 will pave the way for development.

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee died a lonely death in a jail in J&K. Today there is more reason for you to cheer as the idea of his India is being seen in the dilution of Article 370.

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee's death was not a natural death. His death was, first, a state conspiracy and he was killed. In 1947, Sheikh Abdullah was arrested and his lawyer was Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1953, when Dr Mookerjee entered Kashmir he was arrested because he had no permit to enter Kashmir. This was a satyagraha. Sheikh Abdullah with the tacit support of Nehru exhibited the highest stage of coercion and intolerance. 

One must know that the instrument of accession was similar and common for all the states who merged with India. It was unconditional and absolute. Article 370 came later on, due to special circumstances.

Nehru’s attitude towards all his contemporaries was not good. In fact, Nehru ensured the defeat of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in south Mumbai constituency and he humiliated Sardar Patel on the question of J&K. He had to resign and was the home minister of India but without portfolio of J&K. So why Nehru took so much interest in Kashmir? He used N Gopalaswami Ayyangar who was prime minister of Kashmir (from 1937-43) and wrote a letter to Sardar Patel that he wanted Ayyangar (to draft Article 370). 

The second humiliation of Patel was when Nehru told him that he should not interfere in J&K matters.

IMAGE: People draw and write messages on a road during a protest against the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the government, in New Delhi. Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

Rajmohan Gandhi has written in his books that Sardar Patel always knew about Article 370 and also he was informed regularly on J&K developments by Nehru. You are talking of a different history here.

I am saying the hegemony of Nehru created a lot of problems for India. Nehru said that Article 370 ghis ghis ke samapat ho jayega (erode over time). Gopalaswami said in the Constituent Assembly this won’t be a permanent status but a thing of the past. He said this on October 17, 1949. And when this was incorporated there was some attack by Pakistanis on J&K and also propaganda by Sheikh Abdullah.

The Constituent Assembly felt that J&K needed some assurances. Article 370 was an administrative mechanism. And what we did was we passed the bill in Parliament democratically. 

One more important thing, when Lal Bahadur Shashtri was PM, Sheikh Abdullah wrote a letter to Shastriji stating he was reversing the process of Article 370 started by Nehru. He had got the 6th constitutional amendment on J&K where Sadar-e-Riyasat position was changed to governor and prime minister of J&K position was changed to chief minister. At that time he arrested pro-Pakistani J&K leaders too. 

And our decision has the collective conscious of the country.

But you never asked the people of Kashmir what they want, but passed the bill on Article 370 when the J&K assembly had been dissolved.

J&K has Jammu which has 29 per cent territory, Valley makes up 14 per cent of territory, and 54 per cent of the territory belongs to Ladakh. So Kashmiri means the people of Jammu and Ladakh too.

Agreed, but constitutionally, to dilute Article 370, it has to be approved by the J&K assembly.

Why should the assembly pass it? There is no Constituent Assembly as it was abrogated and in India there cannot be two Constituent Assemblies. The Indian Parliament is supreme and nobody can contest and challenge the decision of the Indian Parliament.

IMAGE: Newspapers, with headlines about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to revoke the special status for Kashmir, are displayed for sale on a pavement in Ahmedabad. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

Somewhere you are making Pandit Nehru the demon behind Article 370 and J&K.

It is not a question of making him a demon on J&K, but about facts. Why was Sardar Patel denied from dealing in J&K? He stopped Nehru from going to the United Nations on J&K but he did not listen to him. It was a historic blunder. 

In the Constituent Assembly there was nomination for four members of J&K. N Gopalaswami Ayyangar stated this in Constituent Assembly. And a question was raised by Pandit Laxmikant Maitram, from which place? Ayyangar said, Kashmir. Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra countered and said, what do you mean by Kashmir? Whether it is J&K or Kashmir Valley. And then Naziruddin Ahmed, who was a Muslim patriotic leader, and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur supported Maitra and said Kashmir means Jammu and Kashmir. So for 14 per cent of Kashmir valley you cannot ignore the rest of the area of Jammu and Kashmir. 

And guess who was nominated? Except Motiram Baigra from Jammu; Sheikh Abdullah, Maulana Masoodi and Afzal Baig were appointed from the Valley. And all these three belonged to National Conference. (This was all at the behest of Nehru). 

During elections in 1950s there was a party, Praja Parishad, led by Premnath Dogra who later became the president of Jan Sangh. They filed 65 nominations of which 41 nominations were invalidated without giving any reason. None of the nominations of the National Conference was invalidated. So this kind of politics was practised by Nehru.

It is also said Sardar Patel did not want Kashmir to be a part of India. Many books have been written on this point.

Many things are quoted out of context. He wanted to deal with Kashmir as he had that kind of temperament. He could have integrated Kashmir at that time. Dr Ambedkar was against Article 370. He refused to write 370 and he was the chairman of the Constituent Assembly. You see, stalwarts like Sardar Patel, Dr Ambedkar and Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee were all sidelined under the shadow and hegemony of Nehru.

Critics also say that scrapping of Article 370 is the Hinduisation of Kashmir valley.

Kashmir is not a Hindu-Muslim problem. You see the fertility rate in the valley is 3.8 and in Jammu it is 2.03, which is less than the national average. And there is 95 per cent Muslim population in valley so how can there be Hinduisation of Kashmir Valley? 

The cultural history of Jammu-Kashmir has been systematically suppressed. Abhinav Gupta, whose works have been acclaimed throughout the world, was born 1,000 years ago in Jammu and Kashmir. Kalhan another great scholar and author of famous book Rajatarangini was also a Kashmiri. But they are missing from textbooks.

Kashmir has to resurrect its great cultural legacies of diversity, scholarship and culture.

A theocratic State is anathema to Indian civilisation. Mode of worship cannot be the basis of rule in the country. 

SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
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