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Modi says Sardar Patel would have handled Kashmir differently, history says otherwise

Arti Ghargi

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Considering the prejudiced approach to understating Kashmir issue and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s role in it, one would tend to believe what Modi said was correct.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dislike of Jawaharlal Nehru is not a secret. Some might say, as the opponent party PM Modi attacking Congress’ roots is quite fair in politics. However, from the nature of the attacks, it is evident that Modi perhaps despises Nehru personally. On February 7, addressing the Lok Sabha amidst the ruckus by the opposition, Modi accused Congress of partition. Modi said, “The country was partitioned, the seeds of poison were sown. You divided the country for electoral and petty gains…people are suffering even today.” Then turning to the issue of Kashmir, he said, “Had Sardar Patel been the Prime Minister of the country, a part of my Kashmir would not have been with Pakistan.”

Considering the prejudiced approach to understating Kashmir issue and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s role in it, one would tend to believe what Modi said was correct. However, going through the pages of history would easily give us a peek into all the political turmoil surrounding Kashmir during the time of independence.

PM Modi’s claim that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as Prime Minister of India would have ensured the entire Kashmir including PoK to be ours; when weighed on the balance of facts, lacks credibility. To understand the roles of both Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel on Kashmir, we first need to understand their thoughts on Kashmir.

Kashmir and Junagadh:

Junagadh, a state on the southwestern end of Gujarat had an overwhelming Hindu population. It was ruled by a Muslim ruler Manabhar Khanji. On August 15, 1947; Nawab of Junagarh acceded to Pakistan. While Jinnah accepted the accession, Patel, on the other hand, considered it not legitimate. Patel feared that if Junagadh accedes to Pakistan, it would lead to communal unrest in surrounding regions of Gujarat. He also felt that by accepting Junagadh which had dominant Hindu population, Pakistan itself is contradicting two nation theory proposed by Jinnah. Not able to reach any definite conclusion, Patel suggested giving Pakistan time to void the accession and hold a plebiscite in Junagadh. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile of the people of Junagarh. Later, Patel ordered the annexation of Junagarh’s three principalities. Junagarh, facing financial collapse, invited the Government of India to accept the reins of power.

Sardar Patel

Nawab of Junagadh, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III

Contrary to Junagadh, Kashmir had a predominantly Muslim population and it was ruled by Hindu King Raja Hari Singh. According to historical documents, Maharaja Hari Singh too was hesitant to accede to India as a majority of the state’s population was Muslim. However, instead of acceding to Pakistan, he signed a Standstill Agreement (preserving status quo) with it. In the meantime, the rumours of Kashmir acceding to India spread through Pakistan, after which Pakistan army marched in to take Kashmir by force. In September 1947, Pashtun tribals backed by Pakistani paramilitary forces invaded Kashmir. Kashmir being ill-equipped on the security front, asked for India’s help. However, Indian constitution did not permit the armed forces to intervene in Kashmir as it did not come under India’s territory. Desperate to save the state, Maharaja acceded Kashmir to India and signed the Instrument of Accession. The rest is History that is reminded to us every day without fail.

Sardar Patel

Hindu King of Kashmir Raja Hari Singh

Sardar Patel and Kashmir:

Many people still think Sardar Patel would have handled the Kashmir issue in a very profound manner than Nehru. But unlike their belief, Sardar Patel had always called the Kashmir issue as ‘a severe headache’. The first ever mention of this is found in Integration of the Indian States, a book written by V P Menon, the former political adviser to Mountbatten in 1956. Lord Mountbatten, while on his Kashmir visit two months before independence told Hari Singh that India would not consider it unfriendly if Kashmir decides to accede to Pakistan. Viceroy though also cared to add, “he had a firm assurance on this from Sardar Patel himself”.

The second mention is found in My Reminiscences of Sardar Patel, written by V Shankar, then political secretary to Patel. Shankar wrote that while Mahatma Gandhi had pinned his hope on Raja Hari Singh to join India, Sardar Patel had no reservations over Kashmir Joining Pakistan.

Sardar Patel

Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru with Mahatma Gandhi

In his 1991 biography, Patel: A Life, writer and historian Rajamohan Gandhi throws more light on Patel’s stand on Kashmir. He writes, “Vallabhbhai’s lukewarmness about Kashmir had lasted until September 13, 1947. However, Patel’s attitude changed later that same day — when he heard that Pakistan had accepted Junagadh’s plea for accession.”

Sardar Patel Centenary Volume 2 also mentions an excerpt from Patel’s speech in Junagadh. Patel says, “Pakistan attempted to set off Kashmir against Junagadh. When we raised the question of settlement in a democratic way, they (Pakistan) at once told us that they would consider it if we applied that policy to Kashmir. Our reply was that we would agree to Kashmir if they agreed to Hyderabad.”

The instances in History are enough to tell that Sardar Patel initially was not really keen on getting Kashmir in India as opposed to the recent portrayal of his thoughts.

Rajamohan Gandhi further in his book also divulged that Patel was definitely not happy with many of ways India opted to tackle the Kashmir issue, including the plebiscite and approaching United Nations. However, nowhere in the history, it is noted that Patel vehemently opposed Nehru’s decisions on Kashmir or offered any decisive solution for the issue.

Sardar Patel

Sardar Patel in a meeting with King of Kashmir Hari Singh

But it is interesting to look at Patel’s other statements on Kashmir. In a letter to the founder of the Socialist Party of India-Achyut Patwardhan, Patel had indeed said, “I can solve Kashmir in six months. I would send Sikh settlers to the Valley.”  Referring to his unhappiness with the plebiscite he had told R K Patil, member of the first Planning Commission on September 28, 1950, “In Kashmir, we are spending crores, (yet) if there is a plebiscite in the Valley, we are bound to lose.”

While the historical documents and witnesses available are still in ambiguity over how Patel would have tackled Kashmir, it would be no short than misjudgement to say that Patel would have found the definitive solution to Kashmir.

Patel, Nehru and Kashmir from Modi’s lens:

Sardar Patel

Narendra Modi paying obituary to Sardar Patel

Modi’s odious obsession with Nehru is not just a part of whataboutery that every political party plays. But it also pits two greatest leaders and modern India’s architects against each other posthumously. What is the point in scraping a wound rather than doing something to heal it? In the four years since Modi stormed to power in 2014, the number of terrorist attacks in Kashmir has increased. More than 800 instances were reported. While 183 Indian army men lost their lives in these attacks, 65 civilians were also killed. The recent attacks on Sunjwan Army camp and past incidents of attack on Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Uri, bare open Modi’s government’s tall claims of reducing numbers of terror attacks under the Modi government.

So if Nehru has to be blamed for the failure to address the Kashmir problem, Modi’s lackadaisical Kashmir policies have also carved a space for himself on the list.

Opinion

SHHH…Nobody Cares

Sujit Nair

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“Rape is rape, it should not be politicized” says PM Narendra Modi. Our Honorable Prime Minister seems to have forgotten his statement made on December 2, 2013, when he said: “Congress has made Delhi the rape capital”. I am sure that too was an ‘Election Jumla’ and he didn’t mean what he said.

The question is does anyone in our country truly mean what he or she says when it comes to women’s right or crime against women.  Smriti Irani, Sushma Swaraj, Meenakshi Lekhi… all of them prolifically protested (and rightly so..) the Nirbhaya rape incident, but went cold when it came to Kathua and Unnao. Then perhaps it was the opportunity to oust the Congress government that motivated them more than the brutal rape of the young innocent Delhi girl.

All the glitterati protests, candle marches, how many of these are actually heartfelt and real? Not one follow up action, no PILs, no answers sought from the administration, no relief or support for the bereaved family… just an upmarket media studded ‘roadshow’. A few hashtagged handwritten posters (the current social media trend) some emotional dialogues and protests registered. Good to go for the next social engagement. Matter closed.

Lastly, what a weak and timid opposition, at least the BJP had protested with their might and force in 2013 for Nirbhaya…whatever the reason. The current opposition including the Congress put up a half-hearted, half-baked, I really don’t care.. type of a protest for Katua and Unnao victims.

It’s the common men and women of India who are silently fighting for the rights of the little girl from Kathua or against the power drowsed MLA from Unnao unnoticed by the rest of the world and celebrity struck media. God bless India…God bless our daughters.

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Opinion

Are Congress and BJP in love?

Arti Ghargi

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The two national Parties-Congress and BJP have started wiping off their differences and seemingly have adopted the policy of imitation.

 

The politics today is showing a new shift in its discourse. The politics that we knew earlier, were all about political parties striving to convey to the people how they are “different” from that of the opposition. The BJP always maintained that they are different from the “minority-appeaser” Congress. Congress always asserted that the party is “secular” as opposed to the BJP. The CPM differentiated itself on the lines of Anti-Capitalism. The differentiating lines were clearly defined.

However, today the line seems to be blurring. The two national parties have started wiping off their limitations and seemingly have adopted the policy of imitation. Now, the race is not to differentiate from each other but to prove who is better using the similar grounds. Take, for example, temple hopping during elections. The temple visits by BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi seem more about proving who is better Hindu than the other.

Similarly, there are several examples where both the parties seem to imitate each other.

  • Aggressive one-liners:

Until 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was considered the best among all politicians to come up with witty and edgy one-liners that would incite a favourable response from the audience during rally or speech. But, recent speeches of Rahul Gandhi prove that he is soon catching up with PM Modi. Though a little late, the transformed Rahul Gandhi is receiving a lot of response from the crowd. The clever take on development with “Vikas went Crazy” was an instant hit and Rahul Gandhi did not forget to repeat it at almost all the rallies that followed during the Gujarat Assembly Elections.

The Rahul Gandhi 2.0 not only surprised the people but those within the political circle as well. A number of write-ups were written on how Rahul Gandhi has found the key to take on PM Modi by following the footsteps of Modi himself.

 

  • Temple Run:

It was the constant temple run of Rahul Gandhi that almost made it certain that in a run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress will toe the line of BJP. The temple run that started since the Gujarat Assembly Elections continues even till Karnataka Assembly Elections. The agenda was to counter the BJP’s “Hindutva” pitch by creating greater acceptance for the Congress with the Soft Hindutva. From Janeu-dhari Hindu to Lingayat-sympathiser- the Congress did it all to try and keep the majority happy.

 

 

 

Congress

Rahul Gandhi visiting a top lingayat seer along with Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

 

  • SC/ST Act:

It is not a secret that BJP traditionally is a party that has Upper Caste Hindus as its voter base. This voter base is so far the most loyal to the BJP. This voter base has stayed with BJP for so long because it despises the minority appeasement and the BJP has successfully cashed in on the sentiment. However, the picture isn’t the same anymore. The religion-game has taken a backseat and the caste-game is gaining importance once more. Now the Dalit votes are more important for BJP more than ever. Thus, the party has followed the lines of Congress declaring its unanimous support to the SC/ST Act. Not only the party leaders but Prime Minister Modi, BJP National President Amit Shah and several Union Ministers have come out to assert party’s commitment to upholding the SC/ST Act.

Amit Shah

Amit Shah promised to uphold the SC/ST Act during the BJP foundation day Melava

  • Day-long fast:

Now, after following many policies of each other, the BJP is following Congress and observing a fast to protest the impasse in the parliament during the budget session. Congress on April 9 had observed a day-long hunger strike to protest the Dalit atrocities across the country. Now, the BJP has announced that Prime minister Modi and several other ministers along with the BJP members will be protesting the logjam in parliament by observing a day-long fast. BJP President Amit Shah will conduct a sit-in dharna in Karnataka’s Hubbali where he is on the campaign trail.

 

Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, we will definitely get to see more such incidents. Seeing the two parties imitating each other, however, has left us confused. The day may not be far when we might confuse BJP for Congress or confuse Congress for BJP.

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Is Congress trying to be a better BJP?

Arti Ghargi

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If the Congress accuses BJP of communalising the society, then what Congress is doing along the caste lines is not any different from what BJP has been doing so far. 

Several states across India on April 2 witnessed bloodied Bharat Bandh protests. The protestors opposing the recent amendments introduced by the Supreme Court in SC/ST Act turned violent torching factories, cars and several other vehicles. The violence grew so much that a child was hit & injured by lathis by the protesters in Muzaffarpur’s Maripur area. The violence left as much as 10 people dead. While the Dalit outrage was at its peak, the government was drawing criticism from all the corners of the nation.

The SC/ST Act amendment issue has turned out to be a golden card for the opposition especially Congress who is trying every possible way to cash on it. The Dalit outrage seems to have come to the front of the country’s politics again with even BJP not failing to mention its support to the community in every major speech. A closer look at all of the recent developments raises the question, is Congress turning into another BJP?

BJP and communalism:

BJP has always been accused of using communalism as a tool to polarise the society to build its vote bank. The party leadership does not forget to assert the Hardline Hindutva ideology ahead of every election. Last year, during the UP Assembly Election, Prime Minister Modi at a rally in Fatehpur on February 19, accused the ruling Samajwadi Party of spending crores on constructing boundary walls around cemeteries while neglecting Hindu crematoriums. Recently, UP CM stoked controversy asking the Karnataka people to make a choice between those who worship Hanuman and those who worship Tipu Sultan. There are countless such examples. While appealing its Hindu majority vote bank, it portrays the opposition Congress as Anti-right, Anti-Hindu and Pro-Muslim.

 

Congress and Caste Politics:

While BJP depends on division along religious lines to build its vote bank, Congress, on the other hand, is countering it with more divisiveness- using the caste politics. During Gujarat Assembly election, the Congress weaved a caste alliance of Hardik Patel(Patidar), Alpesh Thakore(OBC) and Jignesh Mewani (Dalit) to take on the incumbent BJP which was ruling the state for 22 years. Though BJP won the elections, the Caste alliances paid off for Congress as the party improved its tally with impressive numbers.

Repeating the same strategy in Karnataka, the party supported the separate religion demand of Lingayat community-which is a powerful community in the state, both-socially and politically.

Continuing on the same line, the focus is on the Dalits where the party is invoking the legacy of Ambedkar. The party’s support for the Bharat Bandh protest and a day-long fast to protest the Dalit atrocities is a step further in the direction to consolidate the Dalit votes in favour of the party.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Bandh protest, tweeted, “To keep Dalits at the lowest notch of Indian society is in the DNA of RSS/BJP. Those who challenge this thinking are hit by violence. Thousands of Dalit brother-sister are taking it to the streets today seeking to protect their rights from the Modi government. We salute them.”

It is clear that Congress is trying to assert a picture of BJP as Anti-Dalit and Anti-Minority.

The divisive politics is not new to Indian political sphere; be it division along religious lines, caste lines or linguistic lines.

If the Congress accuses BJP of communalising the society, then what Congress is doing along the caste lines is not any different from what BJP has been doing so far

Is Congress turning into BJP?

Since the Gujarat Assembly Elections, Congress went under major revamping. This revamped Congress has rigorously been trying to shed the image created by the opposition. However, in the process of doing so, the party is following the lines of BJP. The soft Hindutva approach is one of the examples.

Late last year, just ahead of Gujarat Assembly Elections, Congress started its rigorous campaigning in Modi’s home state. While attacking Modi’s Gujarat model was the strategy of Congress, the core strategy also included wiping out its own party image as an Anti-Hindu party. The temple run that followed has not stopped since then. As the state of Karnataka stands on the edge of Assembly elections in the upcoming month of May, the Congress party is trying to reinforce its image as a pro-Hindu party. Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat asserted his Hindu identity as Janeu-dhari Hindu while in Karnataka Siddaramaiah started asserting his Hindu identity recalling the “Ram” in his name. All this quest is to appease the moderate Hindus while still holding onto the Dalits.

However, between the race for raising the vote bank on the religious and caste lines, the ‘Vikas’ seems to have lost the path. The Gujarat Assembly Election had shown a ray of hope bringing the development issue in the light again, but as the Karnataka Assembly elections are nearing, the election discourse is back to revolve around communal and caste politics. Meanwhile, the people are still waiting for the ‘Vikas’!

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