Silence, Brazenness and the Congress' Collapse: How the BJP rammed through the abrogation of Article 370
All the politics added up to favour the BJP in the revocation of Article 370. But what follows in our political culture now doesn't look favourable.
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The current episode over the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, to my mind, was a coup d’état by the Modi government which had little goodwill in the Valley.
As a prelude starting from April-August 2019, an atmosphere of unease and uncertainty was created there. Many feel Governor Satya Pal Malik turned the Valley into a ‘caged parrot’. Over time, certain telephone lines were cut, transmissions of internet and the like were controlled, and mainstream Kashmiri politicians, like Mehbooba Mufti, Sajjad Lone and Omar Abdullah, were eventually put under house arrest.
The Hurriyat was forced into silence — if not irrelevance.
Cut off: The whole world knew of Kashmir’s fate — except Kashmir. (Photo: India Today)
This was no accident. Virtually all means of communication and intimidation, to my mind, were systematically exploited. That was apparently the Governor’s remit.
Yet, the GoI coup has still to explain certain anomalies — not just Article 35A, for instance, but similar articles in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where property cannot be sold without strict conditions.
It had been clear several months earlier that Article 370 was going to be withdrawn.
That happened, of course, under extreme pressure from the NDA and its bumbling allies including the AIADMK and BSP who, as I see it, would have little understanding about the building of Article 370 and Article 35A. Like Arvind Kejriwal and other minor satraps, they simply tailed the ruling party.
The fracture of Article 370 and Article 35A was also brazenly done. In constitutional law, certain safeguards are necessary. But, without any discussion and access, constitutional safeguards were swept aside. The quorum in the Rajya Sabha was also thin — this is when a massive discussion on Article 370 and 35A was on.
The Inscrutable Duo: What's next? No one knows. (Photo: India Today)
But the political class is often shifty, especially when there are deals, promises and other profits to be had. The fact that only a few weeks eventually clinched the crucial deal clearly shows that it was likely based on promises and handouts to politicians and their yes-men. Precisely because the Kashmir ‘deal’ was so quick and hasty, it was clearly rammed through.
As Ghulam Nabi Azad, a doughty fighter for decades in Kashmir and outside showed, a solid critique was possible — but the collapse of the Congress weakened the secular parties. P Chidambaram fought till the end, but the ruling bloc often smothered discussion. In any event, Chidambaram’s arguments were backed by discouragingly poor attention in the House.
Derek O’Brien also spoke with solid arguments, questioning the government stand which was more rhetoric and less wisdom. Manoj Jha, a Delhi University Professor, spoke in detail about the constitutional coup. He told some of us later that apparently much of what had been stated was already sent weeks earlier to the Rajya Sabha, giving details to the treasury benches.
A Lone Voice: Ghulam Nabi Azad strongly contested the abrogation of Artice 370. (Photo: YouTube/ Rajya Sabha TV)
In sum, what does all this amount too?
It, above all, is a clear signal that constitutional and judicial niceties are going to be under severe stress. Home Minister Amit Shah has referred to migrants from Assam as ‘termites’ earlier. Shah also claimed that the NRC should be nationalised. This has no sanction. Yet, it has been announced from the most powerful rooftops. So, what happened in Kashmir will happen in another partisan way elsewhere perhaps, going by the politics of the Modi government and its cohorts.
The facts mentioned above are damning. Some lead to speculation; for example, Arvind Kejriwal and his followers have quickly accepted the NDA proposal. Years earlier, Kejriwal was allegedly supported also by groups rumoured to have right-wing/RSS leanings which should be discussed. But what has been even more shocking perhaps is that while all this has being going on, the Congress has clearly indicated its complete confusion in the current situation.
This bodes badly for the days ahead.