Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo
The day of reckoning has ultimately come, August 5, 2020, ten days before the Independence Day. It is the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 & 35A and consequently also of the nullification of the separate constitution of J&K State. It is also the day on which the reorganization of the State was approved overwhelmingly by the parliament giving birth to two Union Territories, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, the first with a Legislative Assembly and the other without it. On this day, the “bhumi-pujan” of a new Ram Mandir at the birth place of Sri Ram at Ayodhya is also being held by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. All the way, it has assumed a historic significance.
The Supreme Court of India in its pivotal judgement, last year, unanimously directed the government of India to proceed ahead with the construction of the temple by constituting a Trust regarding the Affairs of the Ram Mandir. Therefore, the Government is constitutionally duty bound to implement the orders and take all sides alongwith to execute the court direction. It also made incumbent upon the government/s concerned to earmark a plot of land at a primary location for the mosque in Ayodhya. All parties to the dispute accepted the historic verdict and also resolved to obey the same.
As the first anniversary of the last year developments regarding J&K come closer, and the Government of India expressing its firm resolve regarding the “bhumi pujan” at Ayodhya with the direct involvement of the Prime Minister Modi, this author is reminded of the expressed intent of the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee in this context.
Vajpayee, due to his commitment to the cause, long innings in public life, cherished parliamentary experience, being part of the state mechanism directly and indirectly and an overwhelming political carrier had acquired a great stature and acceptability among large sections of the Indian society. People across Jammu and Kashmir would also have a great reverence for him, and his words were taken as the gospel facts by varying sections of political divide in the state. It seems, in view of the steps taken by the PM Modi over the last six years, that he has thoroughly studied the thought process of his virtual guru in politics, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. There is another dimension of the relationship between the Guru and the Shishya (master and the disciple) in this case. While the master adopted the means of Lord Rama to reach the end, the disciple was/is designed to follow the footsteps of Lord Krishna to achieve the desired and cherished goals.
Prime Minister Modi (for many) took some surprising steps right ab initio in 2014-15 and “Swachta” was one of them. Speaking about toilets from the ramparts of Red Fort, Delhi on August 15, was for many an astonishing development. Then he focussed on the ideological contours of his vision both before, during and after the elections in 2014 and 2019, and Hindutva was one of them. Immediately after assuming power in 2019 with an overwhelming majority, he and his government pounced upon the most important agenda of the country, ie Jammu and Kashmir and Ram Janambhumi-Babri Masjid case. It is important here to take into account the thoughts and words of Vajpayee in this context when he took free time to opine upon them.
While Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, he, in his sojourn in the first week of 2001, wrote his famous Musings from Kumarakom on the back waters in a sea sized Vembanad lake in Kerala. He wrote two articles one after the other from the same venue which were published by almost all the major newspapers of India. He headlined them as “Time to resolve problems of the past, Time to move on towards a better future”.
The darling and legendary Prime Minister Atal Ji wrote, “Our country is facing many problems that are a legacy of our history. I wish to share my views on two of them. One is the long standing problem with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir and the other is Ram Janambhumi-Babri Masjid dispute at Ayodhya”. He added, ” I am sad to note, however, that the Government of Pakistan is not doing enough to reign in terrorist organisations based in its soil that are continuing their killing spree, targeting both innocent civilians and our security personnel in Kashmir and other parts of India”…….”I also feel the pain and anguish of those Kashmiris who have become refugees in their own motherland. In our search for a lasting solution to Kashmir problem, both in its external and internal dimensions, we shall not traverse solely on the beaten track of the past. Rather, we shall be bold and innovative designers of a future architecture of peace and prosperity for the entire South Asia Region”.
And accordingly, PM Modi and Amit Shah led their government and the Parliament of India to become the historical “designers of a future architecture of peace and prosperity” when they got the resolutions to abrogate Article 370 and 35A passed on 5-6 August 2019. It was definitely a step off the “beaten track of the past”.
In regard to the Ayodhya issue, Vajpayee noted, “I have always held that there are two ways to resolve this contentious issue: the judicial route or the route of negotiations leading to a mutually acceptable situation. I have stated that the government will accept, and is constitutionally bound to implement, the judiciary’s verdict, whatever, it might be. But this does not foreclose the need for negotiations in a non-governmental and non-political framework. The judicial route and the option of talks do not exclude, but are rather complimentary to, one another”.
He beautifully described the Indian ethos, “India belongs equally to all her citizens and communities, nor more to some and less to others. At the same time, all citizens and communities have an equal duty to strengthen our national unity and integrity, and to contribute to the nation’s progress. In recent times, there has been a tendency to focus on one’s own rights, and less on ones duties. This must change. Throughout her long history, India’s unity is nurtured by an ethos of secularism that teaches all her people not only to tolerate each other’s customs, traditions and beliefs, but also respect them. Mutual tolerance and understanding lead to goodwill and cooperation, which in turn strengthen the silken bond of our national unity. Secularism is not an alien concept that we imported out of compulsion after independence. Rather it is an integral and natural feature of our national culture and Ethos”.
There is not even the slightest doubt that PM Modi is well aware of the deep thought process of Vajpayee regarding his inner feelings about the mission of his party regarding their promises made to the people since 1951.
Those promises were not limited to only a few issues that could have been sorted out by earning support of an overwhelming majority in the Houses of Paliament. There was a large scope for reform, rejuvenation and review even if they would have a slender margin of majority and could form the government at the centre. This resolve of clear thinking was represented by one more Musings of Vajpayee when he shot another article to the national media from Goa, his one more sojourn, the very next year. In his Goa Musings, he emphasized on clean India and said, “why should our cities and villages be so unclean and unhygienic? Can this not be changed visibly by changing the habits and the mindset of each one of us”?
Leaders, activists and the intellectuals of Jammu and Kashmir and in particular of the valley of Kashmir have been quoting Vajpayee on every drop of a pin, suggesting to the present dispensation that ‘Vajpayee thinking’ should take the front seat in the government policies and the programmes. In connection with the last one year’s developments in J&K and the assumed importance of August 5 in the current context, it becomes important for the present generation, as well, to know about the soulfulness of the loud thinking of Vajpayee as a truthful Indian. From Goa, he further added in the same Musings and defined ‘Hindutva’ as “Viraat Darshan” of human life.
He said, “There is no difference between such Hindutva and Bhartiyata, since both are expressions of the same ‘Chintan’ (thought). Both affirm that India belongs to all, and all belong to India. It means that all Indians have equal rights and equal responsibilities. It entails recognition of our common national culture, which is enriched by all the diverse religious and non-religious traditions in India. For centuries, both have synonymously pointed to our national identity. Even the Supreme Court has held that Hindutva is neither a religious nor a political concept, but connotes a noble and elevating way of life. This Indianness is what we should all celebrate and further strengthen”.
With the kind advice of Vajpayee, the statesman, our current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has shortened the life of our problems of historical legacy. It has paved way “towards a better future” in the words of Atal Ji. It is time to convert an opportunity for a better future into a brighter future for Jammu and Kashmir. Old horses have run their race, it is time for the new one’s to join the race for good, better and best. August 5 will go down in the history as the day of “evolutionary revolution” that has the potential to lead India to incarnate as Bharat, sooner or later.
Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo