J&K Solution: RSS ideologue jumps on to separatists’ bandwagon
by Hari Om on 08 Oct 2010 4 Comments

The RSS’ former spokesperson, M.G. Vaidya, 88, seems to have gone astray. He has proffered a solution to the so-called Kashmir problem, which, if accepted, would involve the negation of the Indian Constitution and a spectacular victory for those seeking another division of India on the basis of the two-nation theory.


Vaidya circulated his proposal following the all-party parliamentary delegations’ visit to Jammu & Kashmir on September 20 and 21, and explained his views to Sankarshan Thakur of the Kolkata-based English language daily, The Telegraph. Though he candidly admitted that his proposal might be dismissed by many as more dangerous than the disease, he insisted on a debate on it. Vaidya made it clear that this was not the RSS position, but the very fact that an RSS ideologue has taken such a position indicates that there are elements in this body with highly perverse ideas, who don’t mind compromising the Indian position in J&K or pandering to communalists and separatists or negating India’s nationhood.


What precisely is Vaidya’s solution? He wants New Delhi to shut down its constitutional establishment in Kashmir for all practical purposes; for Kashmir to be restored to the pre-1953 politico-constitutional status. This means he wants the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution of 1957 to go lock, stock and barrel, and revival of the office of Wazir-e-Azam and the Jammu & Kashmir Constitutional Act of 1939, under which the state was governed till January 26, 1957, with some minor changes here and there.


Under the Jammu & Kashmir Constitutional Act of 1939, the Council of Ministers exercise unbridled judicial powers. Indeed, under Section 75 of this Act, it was not the judiciary / Jammu & Kashmir High Court of Judicature that was the “final interpreter” of the state constitution; it was the “Council of Ministers.”


The Act of 1939 gave the ruling elite absolute and extraordinary legislative and executive powers. It was neither accountable nor responsible to anyone. It was nothing but a sort of local oligarchy till January 26, 1957. Yet Vaidya commends and recommends the pre-1953 politico-constitutional status to Kashmir. He appears blissfully ignorant about the political scenario in of Jammu & Kashmir and is unaware that he is recommending establishment of a Muslim Republic within the secular and democratic Republic of India, with the proposed State of Kashmir enjoying co-equal powers with New Delhi, while fleecing the Indian exchequer. Remember, Vaidya wants New Delhi to restrict its jurisdiction over Kashmir to just four subjects – defence, foreign affairs, telecommunications and currency.


Vaidya doesn’t stop here. He goes several steps further and recommends that Article 370 be made a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution. Article 370 was envisaged as a temporary provision. Obviously, Vaidya has either not read Article 370 and the circumstances under which this obnoxious Article was incorporated in the Constitution in October 1949, or his understanding of this pernicious Article is highly flawed. It may be mentioned here that Maulana Hasrat Mohani, member of the Indian Constituent Assembly, had opposed this Article tooth and nail and warned that the “grant of special status to Kashmir on the ground of religion would enable it to assume independence afterwards.”


But Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Minister of Kashmir Affairs Gopalaswami Ayyangar, who also wanted to change the state’s nomenclature from the State of Jammu & Kashmir to the State of Kashmir, rejected the Maulana’s argument and conferred special status on the state, much against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the people of the state, particularly the people of Jammu and Ladakh. There was no discussion in the Constituent Assembly on a subject that had the potential to affect one more communal partition and cause displacement of population.


It would be appropriate to mention here that Article 370 had no connection with the issue of Accession of the princely State of Jammu & Kashmir with the Indian Dominion on October 26, 1947. Article 370 was the brainchild of Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir and his supporters in New Delhi who wanted to keep Jammu & Kashmir aloof and give legitimacy to the Sheikh’s politics of communalism and separation or Kashmiri Muslim sub-nationalism. Bear in mind that Jammu & Kashmir was one of 560-odd princely states and the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh was the same as the one signed by all other princes, without any exception.


The Instrument of Accession was a document prepared by the State Department (read Home Ministry) of the Government of India. Besides, Jammu & Kashmir, like other princely states, was not part of the partition plan. It was British India, and not princely India, that was to be divided into two independent and sovereign countries as per the Indian Independence Act of 1947. As for the princely states, the princes of the respective states were required by the Independence Act to accede to either the Indian Dominion or the Pakistani Dominion taking into account the contiguity factor. No prince had the right to exercise the Third Option – independence.


Vaidya does suggest that the office of the Governor and Article 356 of the Constitution cannot be done away with in the national interest. He equates the office of Governor post-1947 with the office of the Provincial Governor pre-1947. He also equates the office of the Governor with the political Resident Officer. The British Government had, it bears recalling, appointed in each princely state a British Resident Officer whose duty was to promote British interests in the concerned princely state. He was responsible to the Viceroy, representative of the Crown in India. Vaidya wants New Delhi to turn the clock back by more than 63 years! What would the Governor of Kashmir do once Article 370 was made a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution and the Valley of Kashmir given pre-1953 politico-constitutional status? He would be merely a figurehead having no power whatsoever.


Vaidya appears blissfully ignorant of the fact that Article 356 is not applicable to Jammu & Kashmir. It is section 92 of the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution of 1957 that empowers the Governor of the state to dismiss the state government and take over the administration for a maximum period of six months. When he does so, on the ground that the constitutional machinery in the state has broken down, he exercises all legislative powers. And whatever he does during that period has the force of law. The Union Government need not take the case of Jammu & Kashmir to Parliament for ratification. However, if the Union Government feels that the situation in the state is not yet ripe for restoration of popular rule in the state, it can, through the Union President who exercises absolute executive powers under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bring the state under the President’s Rule. Using these executive powers, the President of India can keep the state under his/her rule for any number of years without referring the case to Parliament.


Jammu & Kashmir remained under Governor/President’s Rule between January 19, 1990 and October 9, 1996. Did the Union Government take the nation into confidence or bring the issue before the Parliament for discussion and approval as happens under Article 356 of the Constitution? No. The state was kept under President’s rule for more than five years without amending the Indian Constitution even once. But the Centre had to amend the Constitution at least four times to keep the restive and militant-infested Punjab under President’s Rule between 1987 and 1992, because New Delhi cannot keep any state under President’s Rule for more than one year under Article 356. It has to amend the constitution if it feels that the situation continues to remain volatile. Hence, Vaidya’s suggestion about Article 356 is puerile.


Similarly, his suggestion that the Union Government should go by the “Kashmiri opinion of whether Parliament should continue to make laws for the state of Kashmir in accordance with Article 249 of the Constitution and whether Central rules of excise, customs, civil aviation, post and telegraphy should continue to apply to it” has no meaning. If his proposed State of Kashmir gets pre-1953 politico-constitutional status, all these things would automatically come under the purview of the state of Kashmir. Even otherwise, no Central law is automatically applicable to the state as is the case with other states of the Union because Jammu & Kashmir is the solitary state in the Union that exercises residuary powers, including the power of taxation.


All Central laws which have been extended to the state till date are extended with the “concurrence” of or on the “request” of the state government. There is not a single Central law that has been imposed on the state against the state’s will. It is more than evident that Vaidya has not gone through the April 1999 Autonomy Committee Report prepared by the then National Conference government. He should look at page 63 of the said report. It would help him clear all the cobwebs of confusion.


Likewise, his suggestion that there should be a roundtable conference to decide whether the Supreme Court of India, Election Commission and Registrar General of India should have jurisdiction over his proposed State of Kashmir and whether New Delhi should appoint IAS and IPS officers there has no meaning whatever. It was only after August 1953 that Jammu & Kashmir was brought within the jurisdiction of these institutions and some IAS and IPS officers posted in the state, that too, with the consent of the state government. Jammu & Kashmir was brought under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in 1954 and the Election Commission of India extended its jurisdiction to the state only after 1966. It was only in 1967 that the state organized elections to the Lok Sabha under the direction and supervision of the Election Commission of India and as per rules applicable to the entire country.


It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Vaidya didn’t apply his mind while working out his Kashmir Solution. Indeed, he knew nothing about Jammu & Kashmir and the nature of the Center-State relations. The very fact that he suggested that those demanding Pakistan should be excluded from the exercise he proposed indicates he doesn’t know that those demanding Greater Autonomy and those demanding Independence or Merger of the State with Pakistan are the two sides of the same coin. The only difference between them lies in approach.


The protagonists of Pakistan want the state’s merger with Pakistan all at once. The votaries of Greater Autonomy or Self Rule want to achieve their ultimate goal step-by-step; the goal is the same. Protagonists of Greater Autonomy and Self Rule in the state are Pakistani agents in Kashmir. They know once they get autonomy of the kind Vaidya proposes, it would be easy to achieve their ultimate goal: separation from India. The seemingly diverging roads lead to the same destination: dismemberment of India and the victory of separatism, based on communalism.


Vaidya’s views merit attention only because he is an ideologue of the RSS. There are many Vaidyas in the RSS. Tarun Vijay is one of them. If the RSS takes the likes of Vaidya and Vijay as its ideologues, it is doomed; it is destined to wither away. For these are persons playing the game of the separatists and extremists. India is not afraid of Pakistan and the votaries of Greater Autonomy, Self Rule, independence and Pakistan in Kashmir. India can tackle them in no time.


The real threat to India emanates from the likes of Vaidya and Vijay who call themselves nationalists, torchbearers, Hindus, but play exactly the opposite role. The only silver lining in his unworthy proposal is his recommendation of the separation of Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir, something RSS and BJP will not allow because they and the Kashmiri leaders, without exception, are one as far as opposition to the division of the state is concerned.  


If the RSS really believes in the unity and integrity of India, in Indian civilization and in Hindu salvation, it has no option but to take the Vaidyas and Vijays to task. It can’t afford to give them a free hand to vitiate the country’s political atmosphere and cause irreparable damage to India.


The author is former Chair Professor, Maharaja Gulab Singh Chair, University of Jammu, Jammu, & former member Indian Council of Historical Research

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