Nationalists have cheered Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah’s participation in a parliamentary debate where he found several faults with the contentious Article 370, along with Article 35A, of the Constitution. Shah slammed Jawaharlal Nehru for the mishandling of Jammu and Kashmir and what he projected as a nexus of India’s first prime minister with Sheikh Abdullah who used to be, following the accession of the State to the country, referred to as a “prime minister” of that province! The No. 2 in the Narendra Modi government seized the opportunity to question why Nehru could not accomplish what the country’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel could, fully integrating 630 not-so-cooperative Princely States with the nation. However, now that the BJP is back in power at the Centre with a greater majority in the Lok Sabha while it is not far away from getting the adequate numbers in Rajya Sabha either, warming the cockles of all supporters’ hearts by aiming guns at the two separatist provisions in the Constitution no longer amuses patriotic Indians. India has given enough to the unduly pampered State and got little more than veiled threats from the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party alike that the Abdullah and Mufti families did a favour to the country by taking its side after Pakistan sent across its tribal force backed by its regular Army to invade a portion of the State and a panic-stricken Maharaja Hari Singh ran for cover — a situation an equally cuckold Nehru failed to extract the maximum from.
Shah has rightly pointed out that Article 370 is temporary, given that it is drafted in “Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions”. But if 72 years since the Pakistani invasion is not too much of a time to abrogate it, the Congress must be questioned why its governments, including those of the ‘creator of Bangladesh’ Indira Gandhi and of Rajiv Gandhi, who thoughtlessly despatched Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka, were not found patriotic enough to dismantle the provision that has the audacity to provide that central laws need Jammu and Kashmir’s permission for implementation in that State. Article 35A, which gives the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly the right to decide who is a permanent resident of the State, is even more atrocious, cocking a snook at all Indians’ fundamental right to movement. The liberals who cry wolf when a Raj Thackeray demands a Maharashtra free of non-Marathis turn a blind eye to this intolerable Article. All this while, not a tear is shed for the Pandits who were murdered, raped and cleansed away from the Valley despite the Article!
While not an iota of nationalism is expected from the Sonia-Rahul Gandhi duo, none other than Indira ‘Durga’ Gandhi had posited, “The State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is a constituent unit of the Union of India, shall, in its relation with the Union, continue to be governed by Article 370 of the Constitution of India,” in the 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord. She is being recalled here because the nation is sick and tired of paper tigers that masquerade as flag-wavers of the country. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was in no way in a position to repeal the provision — even in the Lok Sabha — while the first Narendra Modi government came tantalisingly close to attaining the numbers when the BJP lost Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the Assembly elections, affecting the party’s wherewithal to shore up its strength in the Upper House. Nevertheless, only a small fraction of the supporters of this government can be held from turning hostile by wielding technicalities.
The role of the judiciary falls in the grey area. On the one hand, the Supreme Court in 2016 set aside a Jammu and Kashmir High Court verdict that said the State had “absolute sovereign power” in the matter of Article 370. On the other, on 3 April 2018, the apex court declared that Article 370 had acquired a permanent status! If its argument was that the State Constituent Assembly had ceased to exist; the President would, hence, not be able to fulfil the mandatory provisions required for its abrogation, there remains Sardar Patel’s way of dealing with Nizam’s Hyderabad, if not the Chinese way of annexing Tibet or the Russian way of keeping Chechnya. India had almost done it but for the utter fatuousness of Nehru who took the matter to the United Nations when the Indian Army had begun regaining the lost lands.