Dr. Pardeep Mahotra
Rahul Gandhi’s “Bharat Jodo Yatra” at present is currently the topic of discussion in the political galore. This march from Kanyakumari to Kashmir has attracted many controversies because of the people involved in the Yatra. Such controversies have completely changed the message of Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra. First and foremost, the nomenclature of this Yatra has put the common man in a state of confusion. Since a united India is a common knowledge, one wonders why then the Congress party is giving a clarion call to unite India? Secondly, political participants in this Yatra have been seen indulging in conspiracies to divide the country. As a matter of fact, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is in its last leg and will conclude its run in Kashmir. Interestingly, the Gupkar Alliance, which is surrounded by allegations of anti-national activities, is also a part of the Yatra. It is the same group that has been openly lobbying for China and Pakistan. It comprises political parties like the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that have carried forward the legacy of supporting extremists and espousing separatism with a pro-Pakistani rhetoric. PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti has been publicly opposing the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Until recently, Mehbooba Mufti had heretically stated, “if Article 370 is removed or disturbed, there will be no one left to raise the Indian flag in Kashmir.” In the past, such a mindset encouraged young people to join the separatist movement, thereby creating and increasing security threats. Ironically, when the positivity finally spread across the valley post the abrogation of Article 370, the same Mehbooba Mufti is set to join the yatra, and it is to be seen if she lends her hand in unfurling the tricolor at Srinagar alongside Rahul Gandhi. Succinctly, it appears that the much-hyped Bharat Jodo Yatra is merely a coming together of power interests that are fueled and nurtured by the twin potions of greed and deceit. If this isn’t a political hypocrisy, what is?
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the erstwhile Congress leader and the country’s first Prime Minister, openly admitted in a letter written in 1952 to Sheikh Abdullah, then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, that “when it comes to the rest of the issues, he has a clear opinion but, when it comes to the issue of Kashmir, he is confused and has no idea what should be done.” The same bankruptcy of thought and character is visible in today’s Congress, which is yet to clarify its stand on the revocation of Article 370. It then becomes difficult to understand or rather comprehend the ideology of the Congress party, which has over the years remained lip tight in clarifying its position on Jammu and Kashmir, the crown jewel of Mother India.
The former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah’s socio-political aversion towards Hindu populations in Jammu and Kashmir remains an open secret and needs no deliberation. Sheikh Abdullah was the first to call for the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits during his speech at Tragapura in 1931, where he said that, “the job of the Muslim Conference and the Muslims of the valley was to drive out the Hindus.” However despite his anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiments, in 1975, an agreement was reached between Sheikh Abdullah and the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in which Sheikh Abdullah was made the Chief Minister with the support of Indira Gandhi. Interestingly at the time, Sheikh Abdullah did not have a single MLA in the State Assembly. Years later, after deliberate calculation, his son Farooq Abdullah has turned up to support the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir. His decision to welcome Rahul Gandhi and rub shoulders is a political stunt which remains quagmired in a state of uncertainty and political turmoil is just another face of the anti-national bloc.
Recalling the years of 1989-90, the darkest chapter in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, the period was rallied by the hues and cries of the massacre of Kashmiri Hindus in Srinagar followed by a blood-stricken atmosphere. In such difficult times, when the people were looking for strength and hope in their leader to address the vehement communal violence, Farooq Abdullah resigned from the post of Chief Minister and fled from the capital. When the state was under the grip of terrorism, he fled abroad with his family, leaving for Kashmir to burn and churn the flesh. It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that Farooq Abdullah followed in the footsteps of his father, Sheikh Abdullah, to relay hate and crime by facilitating the massacre of Kashmiri Hindus. In the book ‘My Frozen Troubles in Kashmir’ authored by the then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Jagmohan Singh, stated that, “Farooq Abdullah was not serious about the appalling situation in Jammu and Kashmir”, following which he wrote two letters to the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and was apprised of the matter. Surprisingly, he learnt that the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was not keen on improving the situation in Kashmir but rather was focused on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and was looking for opportunities to form the government by any means. It can therefore be inferred that the congress has a traditional legacy of garnering support from the separatist leaders of Jammu and Kashmir to merely win elections, who have historically displayed and professed anti-India narratives!
Walking hand in gloves with such separatist leaders in Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi will be perceived as trodding the same path to repeat the historical wrongs committed by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi, thereby worsening the state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir. This, in fact, raises the question as to why Congress is always tied to such leaders who harbour anti-India sentiments. Is it just a part of electoral politics or the long drawn influence of Congress’s ideology? Before Farooq Abdullah joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra, it is pertinent to ask Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders “Why did Farooq Abdullah resign from the post of Chief Minister when the people of Kashmir needed him the most? Why has Congress never raised a single question about the deadly and merciless massacre of the Hindus in Kashmir in the 1990s? Congress never bothered to ask Mr. Abdullah about the systematic genocide designed against the Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir. Likewise, the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is raising serious doubts and concerns amongst the fellow Indians and especially in the minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
While talking of uniting India, the so-called Bharat Jodo Yatris chosen by Rahul Gandhi are coughing anti-India statements in the same breath. These variations suggest that through this Yatra, both the Congress and other separatist leaders are trying to find their lost political ground. By joining hands with the anti-national forces to keep the opposition alive who were wiped out in the waves of the BJP, Rahul Gandhi has proven true to an old adage, that, “enemy of an enemy is a possible friend.” It seems, this Yatra has no agenda per say but to search for political opportunities that may prevent its complete demise, if not the decay. Throughout the Yatra across the country, the Congress party has failed in its attempt to cash in the lost socio-political ground it once enjoyed. After all, the journey, which was seen as the second innings of Rahul Gandhi’s political life, is soon turning into a big disappointment.
Changing narratives of the Yatra from one state to another has also been a reason for the popular confusion. In the ruling states, Rahul Gandhi appeared softer and defensive while carefully dodging questions on governance and administration. He carefully offered false praises to the state governments where Congress is the ruling party, while in non-Congress states, he portrayed an aggressive cum reformist image, bashing the ruling governments and calling the Yatra as a public movement seeking remedies from the public. Popular trust in the Yatra is slowly waning due to the repeated changes in the message and the purpose of the journey at every stage. Since the abrogation of Article 370, record-breaking transformations have been registered in the Union Territory but Rahul Gandhi’s motive remains opaque. With the arrival of the Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir, there is an atmosphere of political instability, which is slated to take sharp overturns in the coming weeks. Unsurprisingly, the Congress party is seeking its revival from the altars of its electoral demise, to explore the means and methods that would ensure its return to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. However, its alliance with anti-India forces and separatist leaders may have done more harm than good for its political prospects. It would not be wrong to say that Congress may have just missed the opportunity train again by taking the much-praised Yatra to the contours of separatism that detests India’s unity and paradoxically mocks Rahul Gandhi’s narrative and journey of Bharat Jodo Yatra. The NC-PDP-INC alliance will once again force the country to fight a battle of narratives and ideologues, and pit the one who toils hard to unify the country against those who ploy and dream about India’s division. This alliance in its essence is merely a conglomeration of like minded anti-national players who once again have joined hands to divide India, and not unite India.
The author is Media Incharge & Media Secretary BJP (J&K)
Dr. Pardeep Mahotra