Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley on Thursday said in the Rajya Sabha that mistakes made by the Congress had led to alienation among people in Kashmir and rejected its charge that the process had started in the last four and half years.
Participating in a discussion on the imposition of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashimr, he asserted that when history gives its verdict on the role of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and that of BJP ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the Congress will feel the pain.
Rebutting the allegations levelled against the BJP-led government by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jailtey said it was wrong to say that alienation started in the state in the last four years. He also defended BJP forming alliance with the PDP in the state to run a coalition government.
Jaitley said there “is a history of alienation, there are policies” and noted that assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir for successive years including in 1957, 1962 and 1967 were not fair and Congress had also indulged destabilising governments.
“If elections are held in such manner, it will sow seeds of alienation. The people of the state felt they do not have right to contest polls. This is the politics you did to stay in power,” he said.
Jaitley said people of the Valley still recall that the first “free and fair elections” in the state were held after Morarji Desai became prime minister in 1977. He said the Congress government led by Nehru had committed a series of mistakes in Kashmir.
“You had put all your eggs in one basket,” he said, and added that the Congress government had to change its policy and arrest the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah.
He said the Indira-Sheikh Abdullah agreement was reached in 1975 but disagreements cropped up soon.
The minister said that the then state Governor B.K. Nehru refused to play the Centre’s game to destabilise the Farooq Abdullah government in 1984 and stepped down. He said a new governor was appointed and a new government was formed by breaking the National Conference.
Jaitley said Congress again joined hands with Farooq Abdullah in 1986 and ran a government till 1989 which caused “so much alienation which the valley had never seen”.
The minister said the problem of stone-pelting erupted around 2010 after militants and Hurriyat realised that the capacity of the armed forces was getting better and their tactics were proving futile.
He said the Hurriyat realised that there was a consensus in the world that “nobody can be allowed to enjoy the fruits of terrorism” and organisations such as Hurriyat Conference sought to start “masked disobedience” by encouraging people, including students, to pelt stones at forces. There has been a reduction in incidents of stone-pelting over the past few years, he said.
Jaitley targeted Congress over the death of Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder S P Mookerjee in custody, saying he gave away his life due to “barriers you erected”.
Mookerjee was opposed to the provision in the Constitution for a separate Jammu and Kashmir constitution.
Jaitley said his sacrifice “is a very unpleasant chapter of history” and asked Congress not to “gloss over sacrifices by people”.
“When history will give its verdict on the roles of Jawaharlal Nehru and Syama Prasad Mukherjee, you will feel the pain,” he said.
The minister said it would be better not to indulge in blame-game. It was necesssary to learn from the mistakes made in the past and work for peace and progress.
He said that regional parties had a role to play in Jammu and Kashmir and the national parties could form alliances despite ideological differences. Jaitley said a new force had emerged in the state following the panchayat elections.
Earlier, while addressing the Rajya Sabha, Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh said that had Hurriyat not shut their doors when the All Party Delegation came to meet them, Kashmir issue might have been resolved.
“A perception was being created that BJP doesn’t want to talk to Hurriyat. And then we asked people to go there (Kashmir) and have talks with them (Hurriyat). And when all party delegation went there to talk the doors were shut for them,” Singh said in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament.
He also added that the Government of India was willing for an ‘unconditional dialogue’ and the same was conveyed to former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, when she was in alliance with the BJP.
“If they (Hurriyat) had agreed to talk, perhaps we could have found some or the other way (to resolve conflict), I had told the then CM Mehbooba Mufti that if they are willing to talk, our doors are also open, unconditionally.”
In May, last year, Mehbooba had urged Hurriyat to respond to the GoI’s appeal for talks. Singh had then said,” If Hurriyat is ready to come to the table for talks, we are ready for it. However, as on date, there is no indication from them to this effect.”
He had also said that New Delhi is ready to hold talks with Pakistan if it comes forward to hold talks. “To not welcome anyone who wants to talk, is not the right thing.”