At the end of his present term and when 2019 Lok Sabha election is more than half way through, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reminded of Vajpayee formula to settle the Kashmir issue. In an interview to a Hindi TV Chanel he said, “we have understanding of Jammu and Kashmir and we do not require the experience of being in government for five years as I have worked there in the organization and I used to go to all parts of the state .” Modi emphasized that only Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s formula of Insaniyat, Kashmiriat and Jamhooriyat would work in J &K. Exceptional words, no doubt. But then Modi has said so earlier also. In 2017 Independence Day speech he said Kashmir problem will be solved by “galey lagane sey naa ke golly sey.” But we have witnessed no intention to actualize the ‘formula ‘ on ground to conclude that PM is serious about it . Like so many others, it too has remained just a line .
Narendra Modi may have understanding of Kashmir from the perspective of a RSS Pracharak . That certainly will not be in sync with that of the PM of India who is expected to have a fair sense of history and regard for the local sensitivities. Modi as PM must have a relook at the issue.
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Speaking further, Modi blamed Articles 370 and 35A for the ills that afflict Kashmir and wants them to go . Essence of Vajpayee ‘formula ‘ is quite opposite. This myth needs to be dispelled that Articles 370 and 35A have come in the way of development of the state. In mid sixties Sahu Jains set up a ply board manufacturing unit in Pampore; Cadbury installed fruit juice plant in Sopre in mid seventies; S L Wazir came up with his watch factory – Swiss jewels in Budgam. H MT watch factory in Zainkot is the prominent story. They set up the shops despite these Article. Similarly in Jammu Bhilwara group had their cotton manufacturing unit, Singer had sewing machine plant and Associated gas had a cylinder manufacturing facility. Finding environment economically unviable, they wound up after pocketing subsidy amounts and other financial benefits which they used to further their business, elsewhere.
Business is driven by economic principle and not by a bald ‘nationalistic sentiment’ . Business men are in the business of making money and not to do the charity . They need proper economic environment and a settled political atmosphere. If PM really means economic good for the state outstanding issues will have to be settled in right earnestness. Hard line approach is not a desired thing. Pakistan must be taken in the calculation. Before that, local ‘real’’ stake holders should be on board . Unleashing E D and NIA on respected religious leaders and others – whom A B Vajpayee very honorably invited to Delhi and who had an interaction with L K Advani – then Dy PM amounts to robbing Vajpayee ‘formula of its soul . Remember, for restoration of stability in the state, sooner than later, GoI will have to do business with them.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan said there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and “ some kind of settlement in Kashmir may be reached if BJP wins the election.” Imran Khan, as is well known, is very close to the quarters in Pakistan who matter most in the country’s governance . We may see some de-escalation . In any case escalation in Indo-Pak relations will always be dangerous for both . If returned to power, Modi must rise to the occasion and keep his ideological predications away. We get an indication: Ram Madhav –B JP’S point man in Kashmir – has softened tone on Article 370 . Speaking in Anantnag he said “ for this election development remains our goal. BJP’s stand on 370 is clear but any decision on it will be arrived at collectively in Parliament .” Pragmatism demands that this chapter is closed.
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Talking about BJP-PDP government Modi said it was a democratic compulsion to have such a government which worked well till Mufti Saeed was there . No it didn’t. PM didn’t treat the deceased CM with elementary courtesy when latter was ailing in Delhi hospital. Modi snubbed him in public in Srinagar cricket stadium after Mufti had sought some sort of settlement with Pakistan.
Modi complains of people having played games in Kashmir. True, but then even the ‘nationalist’ is no exception to the rule. Mercifully, the polarizing election is nearly over. Many in Kashmir would like Modi re-elected as the PM, with the feeling that he will be a new man to push hope over fear and translate Vajpayee ‘ formula ‘ into a substantive action. In his own and of India’s interests, Narendra Modi should not let them down .
(B L Saraf is Former Principal District & Sessions Judge)