While there has been much discourse on Modi government’s motives behind abrogation Article 370, many seem to miss the point. Much has been said about BJP delivering on its manifesto and of religious revenge politics. While BJP and its predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh have long complained of Article 370, the underlying agenda has always been to prove Jawaharlal Nehru wrong!
Among several Indians, NRIs and overseas citizens, I notice a sense of deprival. To be sure, most of these people have had privileged lives. Yet, they claim that they have been handicapped because of Congress’ policies. It is claimed that India could have been a superpower if someone else became the first Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru. The rise of BJP to power reflects the extent to which the Sangh Parivar had convinced the nation of the supposed blunders of Nehru.
Nehru (and V.K. Krishna Menon for that matter) is denied credit for his contributions to great institutions like ISRO and DRDO. From time to time, BJP tweaks an institution such as the erstwhile Planning Commission and claims to have destroyed Nehru’s evil designs. These actions reinforce their base that India is being liberated from chains of bondage and that the country is becoming a superpower.
What was done to Kashmir on August 5, 2019, was one of those tweaks. Contrary to the bragging from the comfort of New Delhi, annexing PoK and Aksai Chin is pie in the sky. Abrogation of Article 370 and converting the state into union territories was an administrative task within the powers of the Indian Parliament where BJP has the majority. BJP has since been chest-thumping to have corrected Nehru’s historic blunder and integrated Kashmir with India for the first time in 72 years. The beginning and end of this exercise was to cast Jawaharlal Nehru as a villain. The government did not think about this issue any further.
When came under intense criticism, BJP has been going on back-foot turning their argument upside down. They then innocently claim to be just following the rules, that Article 370 was never meant to be permanent, and that whatever they did was not at all out of the ordinary!
After a month of curfew and detentions with no end in sight, it is now obvious that the government is clueless. Parallels are drawn to this government’s earlier initiatives like Demonetization and GST. Some legal experts opine that while Article 35A has been voided, Article 370 is still alive. We will know for sure when the Supreme Court deliberates.
On the one hand, the government has been arguing on the international forum that whatever happened was an internal matter. But their simultaneous rhetoric that Kashmir became an integral part of India only after August 5, 2019, undermines that argument, casting doubts that the matter may not really be internal.
Historically speaking, BJP has always been telling Indians that Kashmir has been an international matter (as opposed to internal matter) since Nehru approached the UN and that India is on the hook for Plebiscite. BJP has now begun to speak simultaneously from the other side of the mouth, claiming that Plebiscite is not necessary. If Plebiscite was never held and did not need to be held, why is that an issue after 72 years? With this kind of deceptive logic and self-contradicting arguments, it will be incredible to blame international media or Pakistan for the trouble in Kashmir.
History tells us that Mohammad bin Tughlaq was a visionary far ahead of his times but incompetent in execution. While his shifting capital to Daulatabad is perceived as insanity, one must note that more than three-and-half centuries later Auragazeb Alamgir had shifted the capital to the same Daulatabad for same reasons. Tughlaq is said to be the first in human history to realize the need for common currency within a country. During the course of establishing such common currency in 1330, he purged (demonetized) all the gold and silver coins plunging the nation into financial crisis.
The BJP government lacks the vision of Mohammad bin Tughlaq while motivated only by their obsession to prove Nehru wrong. As with Tughlaq, BJP is willing to make poor decisions and disrupt the lives of the people. In their obsession to claim victory over Nehru’s legacy, the government has plunged the nation into a crisis which can never be recovered from.
Lately, some patriots have been telling us how peaceful Kashmir was in 1969, which incidentally was five years after Nehru’s death and 19 years after the incorporation of Article 370 in the constitution. Why were these patriots quiet until now while Nehru was blamed for terrorism and fundamentalism in Kashmir? I believe they were enjoying Nehru being insulted, and by their selective silence, they helped build the false narrative, which in turn plunged the country into the crisis.