Finally, both Congress and Rahul Gandhi came out asserting that J&K is an integral part of India and Article 370 is an internal matter as per TOI report. Congress also slammed Pakistan for dragging Rahul Gandhi in their letter to UN while accusing Pakistan of instigating violence in Kashmir.
Since the abrogation of Article 370, the language of Pakistan and some Congress-led opposition parties have been alike. Pakistan claimed that Indians are suppressing the Kashmiri aspiration through brutal force. Same is the language of Rahul Gandhi and co. Pakistan compared the Modi regime akin to fascism and following Nazi ideology—whereas Congress leader in the Lok Sabha claimed that Kashmiris are in concentration camps. Pakistan wanted to internationalize the issue and blame India for various humanitarian violence must take these statements from the main opposition as an alibi. That’s their national interest. Thus, how can you blame Pakistan for referring to Rahul Gandhi or Congress for that matter as an alibi to their claim?
What wrong has the Modi government done in abrogating Article 370? Let me refresh the memory of Congress through facts. Since 1950 there have been several Presidential orders that diluted the original text of Article 370. Thus, abrogated Article 370 is no more the original Article 370.
Pundit Nehru, whose legacy is claimed by present Congress, said in Parliament on December 27, 1963, that “Article 370 is eroded and Jammu and Kashmir is integrated“, after various Presidential orders that included Jammu and Kashmir under the jurisdiction of various institutions including Supreme Court. Then home minister Gulzarilal Nanda said that “Article 370 is nothing more than a shell emptied of its contents. Nothing has been left in it; we can do (abrogate) it in one day, in ten days or ten months, that is entirely for us to consider.”
That means the old Congress always wanted to do away with this temporary provision of Article 370. What they couldn’t do in that period, Narendra Modi finally did in the present. Many anti-BJP parties like BJD, BSP, TDP, AAP, etc. supported the move in the national interest. Many Congress leaders, too, supported this move. They may have a reservation on the method of doing away with it, but then, they find that the abrogation of Article 370 is always in the interest of the country.
Did this happen to Kashmir only? The answer is a simple no. There were a lot of princely states which were also integrated into India in such a manner. There were two agreements. One is the Standstill Agreement, which confirms the continuance of the pre-existing agreements and administrative practices. Second is the Instrument of Accession through which the princely state in question agreed to the accession of his kingdom to India (or Pakistan)—granting the latter control over specified matters such as external affairs, defense, communication, etc. Technically, these weren’t much different from the Instrument of Accession of J&K to India. All other princely states further politically integrated into India through four step integration, although some smaller states were integrated through first track integration.
The four-step political integration was a merger, democratization, centralization and constitutionalization, and finally, reorganization. In the case of J&K, only merger and part democratization were done until August 5, 2019. The Modi government implemented the latter two stages: centralization and constitutionalization, and finally, reorganization. It revoked the temporary special privilege of the state, taking it under the direct control of the central government and then reorganized it into two Union Territories. Narendra Modi did exactly what Sardar Patel or Nehru wanted to do with J&K—as they did with other princely states.
Yes, Kashmir is a bit complex case because of Pakistan’s claim and occupation of a large portion of the state before a ceasefire by UN in 1948. But then, international politics is mostly “status-quo mindset” thus; it required a strong government with well thought strong diplomacy to finish the unfinished job.
That’s why many opposition parties supported the government’s move. Congress leadership should have supported the move from the beginning. In politics, rivalry and criticism are alright, but when there’s a national issue all should stand with the government.
Congress leaders not only looked like Pakistan apologist but to make matters worse Pakistan referred to them as their alibi in the UN. Now, the question is, will taking a U-turn be enough to convince people in the mainstream?
India is a vibrant democracy, and everything happens very fast here. Being the main opposition is also a responsible job, like the government to govern the country. The test of the real character of constructive opposition is done in such crunch situations where national interest is at stake. I think Congress leadership failed to do their job as a true opposition party of Indian democracy. If a party can’t do the job of opposition, can it someday govern the country? People will ask such questions in the next election. Does Congress have any answer?