Casual Approaches Won’t Work : Understand What Is Right

Narendra Modi made a statement in Jammu that there should be a debate on whether Article 370 has benefitted the people of Kashmir. As usual both the parties have lost the plot. BJP’s Arun Jaitley says that Article 370 has done harm and is in fact unconstitutional. The Congress party says that Article 370 will lead to this and that and the other. But the correct position is that if Article 370 is to be debated, it has to be debated among the Kashmiri people. It is a Jammu and Kashmir issue. People in Bombay and Trivandrum and Chennai have no business to discuss whether Article 370 has benefitted or not benefitted Kashmir. Accession of Kashmir to India was on the basis of Article 370 and the provision is that it will remain till the people of Kashmir want it. Look, the day the people of Kashmir themselves feel that they don’t want Article 370, nobody wants to impose it on them. In fact, the Constitution will be amended but the initiative, the approval, the endorsement, has to come from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This point is missed by everybody. The BJP doesn’t have a clue. If Article 370 is really tinkered with, you’ll lose all moral authority on Kashmir. Pakistan will have the last laugh. The Kashmir issue is between India and the Kashmiri people. Pakistan has no locus standi on the matter. They don’t claim Kashmir, they can’t claim Kashmir. We now read that Nawaz Sharif made an astounding statement that Kashmir can trigger a war, though later he denied it. I hope the denial is correct. He must understand that war is no longer an option with both countries having nuclear weapons, war is an option which has been closed forever; and Kashmir is not an issue on which Pakistan really needs to exercise itself. They’ve already invaded Kashmir and taken half the territory without any legal basis. If the people of Kashmir want self determination — everybody has to be autonomous — why Kashmir? There are talks in various parts of the country– States want more power, the Municipality wants more power, the Panchayat wants more power. There is a proposal by Anna Hazare that Gram Sabhas should be made independent, should be made more powerful. It is a natural instinct for a human being to be more free, to make his own decisions, but to talk so casually about Article 370 is to harm the unity and integrity of the country. This they must understand once and for all.
The second thing that happened is that the Parliament session is on — a very short session with a long agenda. The election results are likely to create so much ‘hungama’ in the house that nothing will get done, it will be a tragedy. Important Bills are pending — especially Telangana and the Lokpal Bills — at least these two Bills should be passed. And, of course, there is a host of other Bills pending — one after the other — in Parliament and even these Bills are not being passed. But I don’t think the Government is serious about governance, or Parliament or about doing anything serious before the next election. It is a tragedy.They should get to work and try to make the best of the Parliament session. There is a proposal to extend the session after the break for Christmas — which is not a bad idea. After all, Christmas is only a 2-3 day affair — after that Parliament can resume and New Year is not an Indian celebration. New Year is not even an Indian holiday — Parliament can extend till the first week of January and they should try and finish as much business as possible.
The third thing is the recent passing away of Nelson Mandela. It’s a tragedy — he was the greatest living embodiment of human rights and civil liberties after Mahatma Gandhi. He also suffered 26-27 years of incarceration in solitude, in Robben Island, in South Africa. We must all salute him, India has always stood by him. When South Africa’s apartheid was removed, when he was installed as President, India made a big presence. India should play a rightful role in saluting the memory of the man who has stood for everything that Gandhi and Nehru stood for. I don’t know what the Government thinks and if they don’t treat the present mood, I don’t think they treat anything seriously and I hope they take at least this opportunity — God knows when we’ll get another Nelson Mandela, God knows when we’ll get such an opportunity again — but India must play its rightful role. Of course we’ve given him Bharat Ratna which is a good thing — we’ve already recognised Nelson Mandela — but we must play our rightful tribute to him, to his passing away.

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