BJP Turns Aggressive On Kashmir6 January 2011
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: Soon after peace returned to Kashmir following street protests involving stone-pelting, the BJP has struck an aggressive mode, leading to fears that disturbances may return to the Valley. With the countdown to BJP youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha's (BJYM) 3100-kilometre yatra from Kolkata to Lal Chowk in Srinagar leading to a war of words – with separatists and chief minister Omar Abdullah seeing it as an unnecessary provocation – the BJP has hit back. Former party president Rajnath Singh has written to President Pratibha Patil that hoisting the tricolour is the right of every citizen and it should be defended. 'Respected Mahamahim, it is my humble prayer before you to protect the constitutional right of all the citizens of hoisting tricolour on any day and specifically on the Republic Day, anywhere in the country,' Singh's letter to the President says. BJYM chief Anurag Thakur made light of fears of a disruption of peace: 'Tensions were created because of stone-pelting incidents. Many soldiers of the country were wounded. Was there no tension then? We are hosting the flag for national integration. We want Article 370 to go and Jammu and Kashmir to be fully integrated with India.' The party is active at other fronts too. BJP Nitin Gadkari has commissioned a film on the Kashmir problem, which will, among other things, shed light on Jawaharlal Nehru's 'failures' on the front and the successes of Sardar Patel in the integration of princely states soon after independence. He has also asked Rajnath Singh to go to the troubled state and study various aspects of the Kashmir problem. 'We have commissioned a 20-minute CD on the Kashmir problem detailing its whole history,' Gadkari confirmed to HT. 'The special status of Kashmir as per Article 370 has become a problem for the state itself, as its great tourism potential is compromised because one cannot go there and invest, be it in a hotel or industry, which harms employment generation,' a BJP leader explained, adding that the film will make a case for the complete integration of the state with India. The message of the film will be that Patel registered 100% success in the task of integrating India's 500-plus princely states, and that Nehru 'completely failed' in one task he took to himself: solving the Kashmir problem. This is in line with the BJP's long-standing strategy of debunking Nehru as 'soft' in his Kashmir policy, and celebrating Patel, claiming that the party's line is more in sync with Patel's line. 'The young generation does not know many of these things,' Gadkari said. 'The film is meant to educate them about it.' The line that Kashmir should be fully integrated with India has been central to the party's discourse since the Jana Sangh days. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee had famously said that there could not be 'do nishan (flag), do vidhan (constitution) and do pradhan (President)' in one nation, something L K Advani loves to recall in public rallies. Mukherjee had died in a jail in Kashmir, and is seen as a martyr in BJP circles. The Kashmir issue is crucial to the whole Sangh Parivar as it uncannily links Hindutva, nationalism and secularism: a hard line here can be claimed to be 'the' line backing 'national integration', and a Muslim-majority Kashmir can be brandished as a test case for Indian secularism. Moreover, the Muslim majority here conveniently becomes in Parivar logic synonymous with a threat to national integration, justifying its catch-phrase 'Hindu Ghataa, Desh Bataa' (If the number of Hindus dwindle, the nation disintegrates). A team under Rajnath Singh, and including spokespersons Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shahnawaz Hussain, will go to Kashmir to study the problem. The team will visit Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh and meet 'all groups' of the regions, meaning that the aspirations of Jammu's Hindus and Ladakh's Buddhists will be given prime importance as the party tries to attack separatist groups. Meanwhile, key ally Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United) has appealed to the BJP to postpone the flag-hoisting. 'I appeal to the BJP to postpone its programme to hoist the flag at Lal Chowk for the time being. This would be in the interest of both the country and Kashmir,' PTI quoted him as saying. 'Right now, there is peace in the Valley which has arrived due to the diligent efforts of people there and steps should be taken at this time to strengthen that peace instead of doing anything which hampers it.'