The Sangh’s new and muted stand was evident in what Indresh Kumar, a senior pracharak (whole-timer) and a member of the central executive council, said in his speech at a book launch here today.
Stressing the need for the people of the state to “accept the challenge of integrating with mainstream Indian democracy” through the Assembly elections, Kumar tangentially alluded to the special status that Article 370 conferred on them by granting a “separate flag, separate voting rights, separate citizenship and special property rights”.
“But these elections will prove that the voters have no place for the militants and the separatists. They want peace, harmony, education and jobs from India.
“After Independence, Pakistan tried to sow the seeds of separatism in Jammu and Kashmir. Children were encouraged to take the path of militancy and separatism and taught to use AK-47s. Though Pakistan desired to obliterate Kashmir from India’s map, India is innately tolerant and because of that India saved Kashmir and Kashmiriyat,” Kumar said before releasing the book, Plight of Jammu and Kashmir: The Unknown Files, by Justice G.D. Sharma, a former judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
Asked why he sought to avoid the Sangh’s typical rhetoric on Article 370, Kumar said: “I don’t know what you mean by that. I have articulated our stand in the clearest terms.”
The BJP, seeking to leave its footprint on the Valley for the first time, proposed to soften focus on the contentious article’s repeal in its discourse and foreground Jammu and Kashmir’s “development” and the “need to rid the state of the political clans” headed by the Abdullahs and Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.
Sources said the idea was to not alienate and antagonise the Valley and Jammu’s Muslims. For the first time, the BJP has fielded quite a few Muslims.
Kumar’s effort to be in sync with the BJP’s line was a departure from the strategy he had adopted in the 2002 Jammu and Kashmir elections.
Backed by the then RSS sarsanghachalak, the late K.S. Sudarshan, he had foregrounded the trifurcation of the state into separate regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in his discourse. Kumar was then based in Jammu.
He tried to marshal support from the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for the idea but Vajpayee’s PMO was cold to it because it feared that the militants, fighting for ceding the Valley, would be bolstered by the proposal.
In the polls that followed, Kumar floated a separate party, the Jammu Mukti Morcha, that fought the BJP in all the seats it contested on the trifurcation plank. The Morcha came a cropper but it ensured the BJP got wiped out in Jammu.