Power politics in the state has been and continues to be game of musical chairs. It has been, so since Kashmir lost its independence, and surrogates, from Delhi, Kabul and Punjab ruled the ‘country’. During twenty seven years of the Sikh Rule (1819-1846), over a dozen of governors were appointed by the rulers in Punjab for sucking people dry. Eight of them eventually became ‘extremely wealthy by fattening on people miseries. In the post 1947 dispensations, the ruling class, whatever their title, Chief Emergency Administrators, Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers, have not been much different from the earlier proxies of Delhi Darbar that ruled the State from 1556. Just a scrap of paper from New Delhi could push them out from their coveted position into political wilderness. (In 1953, Nehru had sent an unsigned paper through his envoy to Dr. Karan Singh to dismiss Sheikh Abdullah).
Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, reminded us about these grim realties during his speech in the Parliament on Thursday. Intervening in the Raja Sabha debate on motion of thanks on President’s address he candidly questioned the genuineness of the elections held in Jammu and Kashmir after 1947. Leader of the opposition, in the Raja Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad taking a dig at the BJP’s victory in Jammu had said ‘red rags’ had won in the state. Azad was perhaps referring to the communal polarizations orchestrated by the BJP during 2014 Assembly elections in Jammu that had raised tally of its seats in the house. Hitting back hard at the Congress leader, Jaitley reiterated a historical reality about the sham elections held in the state. He in fact joined the people’s discourse about the travesty of democracy in the state that has been reverberating not only in the State but also at many other international forums for decades. He informed the House that elections in the State were rigged in 1953, 1957, 1962 and 1967. While mentioning about 1953 elections, he perhaps meant August 1951 elections for the State Constituent Assembly. All candidate except two had been declared elected unopposed for this Assembly. In 1953, no elections were held in the State. Taking lid off the can of worms that the elections in the state have been, Jaitley honestly exposed modus operandi adopted for conducting of the farce elections in the state. To quote him:
‘Those days there would be an officer (Deputy Commissioner) before whom an affidavit was to be submitted by the candidate and it was a joke that the government was not of the people but of that very officer who would allow affidavit of only favorite candidates.’
In 1951, when elections for the Constituent Assembly where held, besides intimidation and terror that scared other parties from contesting the elections, it were not people but the Deputy Commissioners who virtually elected the members of the Constituent Assembly. He was bold enough in exposing the machinations and dubious role-played by the Congress governments in holding farce elections in the state and selling the same to the world outside as peoples rule in the state. Nevertheless, he is not the first person to tear apart the facade of democracy in the state by denouncing the Congress for ruling the state for five decades without "peoples support". In 1977, the State Governor, L.K. Jha is on record to have said that all earlier elections in the state were rigged. In 1982, none but former Prime Minister of India, Morarji Desai told this writer that ‘all earlier elections in the state were rigged and it was he who gave the state first fair elections in 1977.’ All think tanks and intellectuals during nineties with one voice attributed the birth of militancy in the State to the rigged 1987 elections.
The 1996 elections internationally earned dubious heading: "Elections at gun point in J&K". In the post 1996 scenario, in order to tell the world out side that everything was now hanky dory and democracy had struck its roots in the ‘disputed’ state, how the governments in New Delhi conjured new regional parties changed the guards in the state at regular intervals is no secret.
The honest remarks by Jaitley in the Raja Sabha do not only refocus on the sham and the rigged elections held in the State but these also put a big note of interrogation on the ratification of accession of the state with India by the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly or the actions taken by the state Assembly for integrating the state with Union of India more particularly during the Congress rule.
In this column, it may not be possible to recap the whole history about the genesis of the Constituent Assembly but to put it briefly:
In his arrogance and total disregard of UN resolutions of 1948 and 1949 Sheikh Abdullah convened meeting of the National Conference on 27 October, 1950, recommending the convening of a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of determining the "future shape and affiliations of the State of Jammu and Kashmir” with India.
The matter came under debate in the Security Council. Indian envoy B.N. Roy committed before the comity of nation that the actions of the State Constituent Assembly will not influence or affect its commitment for holding of plebiscite in the state under aegis of the United Nations. The Security Council passed another resolution on March 30 1951, categorically stating that ‘any action that Assembly may have taken or might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof, or action by the arties concerned in support of any such action by the Assembly, would not constitute a disposition of the State." Despite, the UN resolution, on 7 November 1956 the same Constituent Assembly which was conjured through a sham elections as admitted by Jaitley also adopted the State Constitution, the Article 3 of which affirms, “The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of Union of India."
The UN resolution of 24 January 1957 did not approve action and reaffirmed of holding a plebiscite under supervision of a plebiscite administrator to be appointed by the United Nations. But, the question is even if there would have been no UN resolutions, are not all actions taken by the Constituent Assembly including accession of the State elected through farce elections illegal and against all principles of justice and fair play.