OMAR, DO RESTRAIN YOURSELF!

OMAR, DO RESTRAIN YOURSELF!

 

Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir State, has every right to disagree with the BJP on matters relating to J&K.  But I would advise him never to use offensive language and words like ‘cheating’ and ‘deceiving’ in that context.
He should know that when in the Constituent Assembly, Art. 370, which confers a Special Status on Jammu and Kashmir state was sought to be approved, the Jana Sangh had not even been born. However, if there was any provision in the Draft Constitution which had almost the entire Congress Party up in arms against it, it was this provision.  This issue was considered by the Constituent Assembly in November, 1949 just two months before the Constitution was formally adopted. Prime Minister Pandit Nehru had left for abroad.
According to a two-volume book My Reminiscences of Sardar Patel, written by V. Shankar, Private Secretary to the Union Home Minister Sardar Patel, before leaving for abroad, Pandit Nehru finalized the draft provisions with Sheikh Abdullah, and entrusted to Gopalaswamy Ayyangar the task of piloting these provisions through the Constituent Assembly.
Ayyangar first presented his proposals to the Congress Parliamentary Party.  His presentation, Shankar notes, provoked “a storm of angry protests from all sides, and Gopalaswamy Ayyangar found himself a lone defender with Maulana Azad an ineffective supporter”.
According to Shankar, “In the party, there was a strong body of opinion which looked askance at any suggestion of discrimination between the Jammu and Kashmir State and other States as members of the future Indian Union and was not prepared to go beyond certain limits in providing for the special position of Jammu and Kashmir.“Sardar was himself fully in accord with this opinion, but due to his usual policy of not standing in the way of Pandit Nehru and Gopalaswamy Ayyangar who sorted out problems in their own light, he had kept his own views in the background. In fact, he had not taken any part in framing the draft proposals with the result that he heard the proposals only when Gopalaswamy Ayyangar announced them to the Congress Party.”
Extremely upset with the rough reception he had received at the Congress Parliamentary Party, Ayyangar rushed to Sardar Patel for help. Sardar Patel had another meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party convened.
Shankar reports: “The meeting was one of the stormiest I have ever witnessed. Even Maulana Azad was shouted down.  It was left to Sardar to bring the discussion down to the practical plane and to plead that because of the international complications, a provisional approach alone could be made.”
“Reluctantly, it seems, the Congress Party fell in line with the Sardar’s wishes.  Indeed it is this that explains why in the Constituent Assembly the discussion on this provision was so vapid and sketchy. Apart from Ayyangar’s own speech, there was not a single worthwhile intervention, either for, or against.”
It transpires that even while Sardar Patel and Ayyangar were exerting hard to make the Congress Party agree to the draft proposals as drawn up by Ayyangar and Sheikh Abdullah with Pandit Nehru before his departure for abroad, the Sheikh started having second thoughts about the agreed draft itself.On 14th October, 1949, Vishnu Sahay, Secretary for Kashmir Affairs in the Home Ministry wrote to V. Shankar that Sheikh Abdullah had changed his stand on the draft on the plea that the Working Committee of the National Conference did not approve of it.Abdullah, Sahay wrote, had sent an alternative draft which provided that the Indian Constitution shall apply to Jammu & Kashmir only in regard to the acceded subjects.  The Sheikh also objected to the fact that the proposed Article had been described as Temporary and that the Constituent Assembly of the State had been empowered to terminate it.
On 15 October, 1949, Sheikh Abdullah and two colleagues of his met Ayyangar and pressured him into changing the draft. Ayyangar reported this to Sardar Patel that very day. In his letter to Patel dated 15 October, Ayyangar wrote that “there was no substance at all in the objections that they (Abdullah and his two colleagues) had put forward”.  He added: “At the end of it all, I told them that I had not expected that, after having agreed to the substance of our draft both at your house (Patel’s) and at the Party meeting, they would let me and Panditji down in the manner they were attempting to do.  In answer, Sheikh Abdullah said that he felt very grieved that I should think so, but that in the discharge of his duty to his own people he found it impossible to accept our draft as it was …… I told him thereafter to go back and think over all that I have told them and hoped that he would come back to me in a better frame of mind in the course of the day or tomorrow.  I have since thought over the matter further and dictated a draft which, without giving up the essential stand we have taken in our original draft, readjusts it in minor particulars in a way which I am hoping Sheikh Abdullah would agree to.”Sardar Patel’s reply to Ayyangar dated 16th October, 1949 was curt and sharp.  He did not agree with Ayyangar that the changes were minor. Patel wrote: “I find there are substantial changes over the original draft, particularly in regard to the applicability of fundamental rights and directive principles of State policy. You can yourself realize the anomaly of the State becoming part of India and at the same time not recognizing any of these provisions.”
Patel added: “I do not at all like any change after our party has approved of the whole arrangement in the presence of Sheikh Sahib himself. Whenever Sheikh Sahib wishes to back out, he always contfronts us with his duty to the people. Of course, he owes no duty to India or to the Indian Government, or even on a personal basis, to you and the Prime Minister who have gone all out to accommodate him.”
In a clinching remark he said: “In these circumstances, any question of my approval does not arise. If you feel it is the right thing to do, you can go ahead with it.”
Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdullah rejected even Ayyangar’s revised draft, and in a letter addressed to Ayyangar on 17th October threatened to resign from the Constituent Assembly.
On 17th October, 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted Ayyangar’s original draft without much of a debate. Sheikh Abdullah was expected to speak, but he remained sullen and silent.
After Nehruji’s return from abroad, Sardar Patel summed up the happenings which took place in his absence (letter dated 3rd November, 1949) in the following words :
“My dear Jawaharlal,
There was some difficulty about the provision relating to Kashmir. Sheikh Sahib went back on the agreement which he had reached with you in regard to the provision relating to Kashmir. He insisted on certain changes of a fundamental character which would exclude in their application to Kashmir the provisions relating to citizenship and fundamental rights and make it necessary in all these matters as well as others not covered by the accession to three subjects to seek the concurrence of the State Government which is sought to be defined as the Maharaja acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers appointed under the proclamation of 8 March 1948. After a great deal of discussion, I could persuade the party to accept all the changes except the last one, which was modified so as to cover not merely the first Ministry so appointed but any subsequent Ministries which may be appointed under that proclamation.
Sheikh Sahib has not reconciled himself to this change, but we could not accommodate him in this matter and the provision was passed through the House as we had modified.  After this he wrote a letter to Gopalaswami Ayyangar threatening to resign from the membership of the Constituent Assembly. Gopalaswami has replied asking him to defer his decision until your returned.
Yours sincerely,Vallabhbhai Patel”

At the very commencement of this blog I have said that it is highly improper for anyone to use offensive words like “cheating’ in the context of BJP’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir.  It is an issue on which we have not only been unequivocal, forthright and consistent from the time Jana Sangh was born in 1951 till today, but it is an issue for which the Party’s Founder – President laid down his own life, and for which tens of thousands of party activists have courted arrest and suffered in many other ways.  Since our very first all India session at Kanpur, we have been championing complete integration of J&K State with India.
TAILPIECESardar Patel passed away in December, 1950. On July 24, 1952, Pandit Nehru made a comprehensive statement in the Lok Sabha on issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir State. In this he strongly defended Art. 370. He also remarked that it was Sardar Patel who was dealing with J.& K. V. Shankar, who in 1952 was Joint Secretary in Ayyangar’s Ministery ran into his Minister and exchanged notes about the happening. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar commented: “It is an ill – return to Sardar for the magnanimity he had shown in accepting Panditji’s point of view against his better judgement

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