Dr Varinder Sharma
Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) of Indian National Congress (INC) orchestrated by Rahul Gandhi that started from Kanyakumari on September 27 finally reached Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir in the peak of winters with much enthusiasm to the party cadres as well as local population who could be seen walking with their favourite leader or standing on both sides of the road waving at Gandhi family scion, in whom party has pinned all hopes for uniting squads across the length and breadth of India and giving incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) a tough fight in coming 2024 elections.
Having covered 3,570 kilometers for over 150 days (including on-going J&K stretch), Rahul Gandhi is being described as a matured politician who according to his party cadres has ripened to the extent that he’s now ready to take the principal opposition political outfit BJP head on in coming general elections. While Rahul’s this Yatra is being marked as beginning of electioneering, Bhartiya Janata Party too has blown the trump by repeating it’s national as well as J&K party chiefs and given its cadres 400-day time to prepare for 2024 general polls.
In nutshell, the battlelines stand drawn for next general polls which are going to be more about ideologies than show of strengths. The country, in fact is in a transitional phase and general elections of 2024 will be a benchmark for political survival of either of the two principal opposition political outfits of India which have very clearly taken on-board their bandwagon other regional parties who according to them match their respective ideas and are geared up to convince voters based on their deeds.
Undeterred by on-going election preparations, Rahul Gandhi is treading on his path consistently and has reached the most sensitive Union Territory (UT) which is yet to see any elections be it that of local bodies, Panchayats, assembly or general polls post abrogation of Article 370. Ever since this controversial article has been abrogated daggers stand drawn out on either side of the fence especially when situation has reached a point of no return for political dynasts who were sure that this clause of constitution that gave politicians of Jammu and Kashmir a special status and discriminated with masses can never be touched.
Now that Rahul Gandhi is going to stay put in Jammu and Kashmir for considerable time, meet people of different regions and also sense the pulse of people, he must come out clean on certain questions that are haunting people and to be precise confusing them vis a viz Congress’s stand. Answer to just 10 questions will not only clear Congress’s stand but also make it prepare its manifesto for coming general elections in much better manner. So, here we go with the list of Qs for RaGa….
* Irrespective of the allegations that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 was passed without discussions, whether it was a right decision to abrogate controversial Article 370 that discriminated with women, West Pakistan refugees, Valmiki Samaj and commoners as compared to other people in rest of India?
* Sensing discrimination done with Ladakh and even Jammu since ages, wasn’t it right to reconstitute erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories (UTs) called Ladakh (A long pending demand) and Jammu and Kashmir and abolishing upper house that had become a burden on state exchequer rather a place of refuge for politicians?
* Whether it was not right to extend 106 central laws to Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh including Aadhaar Act, 2016, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Forest Rights Act 2006, 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution of India and the Right to Education Act, 2009 and repealing of 153 state laws of Jammu and Kashmir besides amending laws that prohibited persons from rest of India to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir?
* Everything was going normal in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir until way back in 1987 elections were alleged to be rigged that created unrest. Voices of separatism started to eco in every nook and corner of Valley that even resulted in political killings, forced exile of Kashmiri Pundits and brought everything to a grinding halt. Who is to be blamed for this mess, rigging and exodus of Pundits or members of other communities from Kashmir?
* Why did those political outfits who believe in democracy boycotted 2018 Panchayat polls, 1996 Indian General Election while both former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and is Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand deliberately allowed the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to lapse in 2010 and kept issuing false and frivolous statements that elections will be held soon? Who allowed 74 Municipal Committees, six Councils and two major Municipal Corporations to lapse and strangulated democracy while denied decentralization of powers?
* A surgical strike inside Pakistan not only demolished terror camps but also made the enemy nation think twice before venturing on any other misadventure. Now, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said and I quote, “We want “sincere and serious” talks with India on “burning issues” like Jammu and Kashmir, and called for peace with the neighboring country. We have also learnt lesson after three wars with India that “only brought more misery, poverty, and unemployment to us”. In the given context, whether it was not right to demolish terror camps and India should enter into any talks with Pakistan unless it stops aiding and abetting terrorism from its soil?
* Farooq Abdullah had said and I quote, “Even if Modi becomes PM for ten times, he will not be able to do away with Article 370”. Similarly former Chief Minister and President Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti had said and I quote, “No one will be left to shoulder the tri-color, if article 35A is abrogated”. In the given context, will these leaders be joining Rahul Gandhi at the venue where BJY will culminate in unfurling tricolor in Kashmir or those who insulted Indian flag will be give photo opportunities to rub shoulders in the Yatra alone?
* Rahul Gandhi is witness to display of factionalism in Congress well before entering Lakhanpur. Party’s spokesperson resigned, stalwart like Ghulam Nabi Azad who would have been the face of Yatra in J&K has floated a new party, Congress deserters are back in the fold only to occupy prime positions within a fortnight and politicians like Ch Lal Singh who had joined Congress to leave it were seen trying to draw attention of Rahul Gandhi at the cost of other party leaders. G23 leaders at the Centre are still not that happy with the Congress. In this situation isn’t this a Yatra associated with uniting Congress than Bharat?
* Jammu and Kashmir has always been considered as land of Sufis, Saints, Peers and Faqeers. Now that Rahul Gandhi has entered the Union Territory will he please be clarifying what prompted him to say and I quote, “India is a country of Tapasvis and not Pujaris”. I mean what wrong had the Pujaris done to him and isn’t this an insult to Pujaris and Pundits of thousands of temples of Jammu and Kashmir who had been facing the brunt of militancy yet continuing to run the affairs of temples and perform other rituals for people even in turbulent times?
* Rahul Gandhi is doing extremely well and has every right to embark upon any Yatra like the ones of Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) but during the process was it wise to allow divisive forces or those who believe is spreading hatred, insult constitution or question the sanctity of Parliament to rub shoulders with him? In Jammu and Kashmir will he be joining hands and walk with those who are averse to “One Nation, One Flag and One Constitution” and had threatened that no one will shoulder tricolour if contentious law is ever repealed.
(The writer is practicing Ultrasonologist)
Dr Varinder Sharma