Ghulam Nabi Azad, The Sole Voice of Opposition in Rajya Sabha on Kashmir
'You will not succeed'
NEW DELHI: Ghulam Nabi Azad emerged as the sole member in Rajya Sabha to effectively oppose the government’s resolution scrapping Articles 35 A and 370, and the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories in the Rajya Sabha today. Triumphant treasury benches were supported by most of the Opposition ---AIADMK, BJD, BSP with those who did oppose the move speaking desultorily and without real conviction.
Hence the Leader of the Opposition and Congress MP Azad was the only one to strike an emotional, historical note in pointing towards the enormity of the decision and the possible consequences.He was followed closely by Trinamool Congress MP Derek O Brien.
Azad who has been the Congress Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir struck an emotional and emotional note in the Upper House. “I would have never dreamt that this would happen to my state,” he said comparing the government’s decision to the impact of an “atom bomb”. He said no intelligent expert on Kashmir in any part of the world, and there are many, would have thought that a government would lose the process of thought to abrogate all Articles and trifurcate the state in this manner. And that too in a rush, without sufficient warning, or discussion push it through Parliament with brute majority.
Azad said that in effect the government had wiped Jammu and Kashmir as a state from the map of India. When the treasury benches protested he said, “ count the states, there were 29 before and there are 28 now after this is passed.”
He said that Jammu and Kashmir was not just the “sartaj” of India but also has borders with China and Pakistan with whom India has fought wars. He said that the people of the state had always supported the Indian forces along with the mainstream political parties there. “When Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession the Kashmiris supported him, they preferred to stay with India and did not choose Pakistan even though it was of the same religion. They embraced India and her secularism,” he said.
Azad pointed out that they did so because they had trust and confidence in India. “But you have broken that,” he said. They had confidence that India will “look after us, will not finish our culture, will not destroye our values and our history, and will not play with our aspirations,” he said. But that trust has been belied even though Kashmiris too were targeted by militants, as was the Army of course, and the number of widows in the Valley bear testimony to the fact.
Kashmir, Azad said, had come into the mainstream with students studying across universities in India, marrying outside the Valley, with record integration in the past couple of decades. “Integration comes from the heart not from laws,” he reminded the government. “I am speaking for all communities and castes as Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh represented this composite culture and diversity. Remember, the Congress leader said, that it is imperative to join the hearts, as law alone cannot be successful in ruling peoples.
Azad also touched on the issue of federalism by reminding his “Jammu brothers” that a Union Territory will see a far higher degree of centralisation than a state Assembly. To protest from the treasury benches he said, “try and make Gujarat a UT and you will see the reaction.” He urged the government to not “take politics so easily, you are changing the history of India. Don’t get so lost in power that you don’t know what you are doing. You known the geography but have no idea of history clearly.”
He said he throught the government had more intelligence but it was clear to him now that this was not so. He wanted to know from the government whether it seriously thought that Jammu and Kashmir could be run by a Lt Governor, usually some mid level bureaucrat or a party man. Do you seriously think so, Azad asked pointing out that he had been the CM of the state and it was by no standards an easy task.
“You are talking of a new India, but in the process you are finishing and breaking down the old India,” he said. He said that with these steps the government is leaving “a black blot on the face of India. You are breaking the state, and in effect finishing it. During partition there was the slogan, “jis kashmir ko khoon se seencha hai woh kashmir hamara hai” but now you are stamping on the sacrifices made here by wiping out the state’s history.”
Azad ended by pointing out that if the laws do not enter the hearts of the people, no government can ever succeed. He said that those who think of unity of the country, and progress for all communities in India “will never accept this despite your majority.”