The BJP on Thursday used the 75th anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India to slam Jawaharlal Nehru for his “blunders” on the issue and asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi corrected them by nullifying Article 370, which granted the erstwhile state special rights.
As BJP leaders, including Union ministers Kiren Rijiju and Jitendra Singh, targeted Nehru for his handling of the erstwhile state’s accession, the Congress hit back at the ruling party, saying its leaders have no idea of contemporary history and that they must account for what has happened under its rule there rather blaming Nehru and other former prime ministers.
Rijiju said the country’s first prime minister’s blunders, which, he said, included enacting Article 370 and taking the dispute with Pakistan to the United Nations, caused much tragedy, drained the country’s resources and cost thousands of lives of soldiers and civilians in militancy.
He also wrote an article for a portal, News18, citing “five Nehruvian blunders”, including floating the idea of the plebiscite and terming the accession provisional.
Singh, who is from Jammu and Kashmir, said had Nehru allowed then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel to handle its accession the way he did those of hundreds of other princely states, the history of the region would have been different. But he kept Patel out thinking he knew more, he added.
Rijiju said it was important to realise past mistakes to build a new future and added that he has not tweaked history but states facts to set the record straight.
Hitting back, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh shared an article to say “pseudo-historians and peddlers of lies like Kiran Rijiju and his ilk” should read them while party spokesperson Pawan Khera also slammed the BJP.
Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia alleged Nehru’s five blunders included delaying action on the accession proposal of the region’s king Hari Singh.
Jammu and Kashmir, and the country in general had to pay a price for it while this allowed Pakistan to capture a part of the region (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), he said.
Bhatia quoted from Nehru’s statement to assert that the king had first mooted the idea in July 1947 but the then prime minister dithered and allegedly prioritised his and his friend’s interests, a reference to Sheikh Abdullah, while neglecting the country’s.
Hitting out at the Congress, he said, “If a timely action was taken, then there would be no part of the state under Pakistan’s occupation. The Congress since then spread lies and suppressed truth about the issue.”
Nehru then took an “internal issue” to the United Nations, making Pakistan a party, he added.
The BJP leader also denounced him for floating the idea of plebiscite, claiming there was no provision for it in the Independence Act under which hundreds of princely states merged with India.
Special provisions were also granted to Jammu and Kashmir — now a union territory — under Article 370 and the country had to pay a heavy price for it, Bhatia said.
Claiming that then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel was against measures pushed by Nehru, he said if Jammu and Kashmir was merged with the country like other princely states, then there would probably be no “jihadi terrorism”.
Modi has corrected those blunders, and his strong leadership is now showing the way to the world, he said.
The Congress mocked BJP leaders over their criticism of Nehru, saying these “students of “WhatsApp nursery” need to revisit their history classes.
“If all that they are saying is true, how is it that during the Manmohan Singh era targeted killings stopped and 75 per cent of the people would participate in the democratic process of elections in the state? We would be happy to get the answer to that,” Khera said.
The BJP leaders have no idea of contemporary history of the country, he said.
It is very easy to blame Jawaharlal Nehru for this, Indira Gandhi for something else, PV Narasimha Rao for something else and Manmohan Singh for the rest, Khera said.
“Give us answers. You have been in power for eight years. What has been your achievement in those years in Jammu and Kashmir? You cannot hold elections. You cannot protect Kashmiri Pandits. Is that your achievement? You must apologise for what happened in 1989, you must apologise for what is happening now,” he said, attacking the BJP-led Centre.
Bhatia also quoted Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s comments in Lok Sabha in 2019 during a debate on the resolution about Article 370 nullification to hit out at the opposition party.
Chowdhury had then noted that the Kashmir issue was in the United Nations as he questioned the government’s stand that it was India’s internal issue.
The Congress should apologise for its blunders, Bhatia said, while also targeting the party for the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits from there following the outbreak of militancy.
The Congress hit back at the BJP over the alleged exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from south Kashmir’s Shopian district and demanded that the Modi government release a white paper on the plight of the minority community during its eight-year rule.
The opposition party also hit out at the BJP-led Centre over the targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir and said the government must apologise for it.