On Children's Day, Jairam Ramesh & Kiren Rijiju face-off over Nehru, Kashmir

Updated on Nov 14, 2022 12:35 PM IST

Union law minister Kiren Rijiju while listing his ‘Nehruvian blunders of Kashmir’ said the erstwhile Kashmir ruler Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to accede to India in July 1947, but Jawahar Lal Nehru delayed it to ‘fulfill his personal agenda’.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju has stirred a row by accusing India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of committing “five blunders” that he said hobbled India and created the Kashmir problem. (HT file)
Union minister Kiren Rijiju has stirred a row by accusing India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of committing “five blunders” that he said hobbled India and created the Kashmir problem. (HT file)

An all out Kashmir history war has erupted between Union law minister Kiren Rijiju and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on the birth anniversary of India's first prime minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. In an article for news website CNN News 18, Rijiju had listed what he called ‘Five Nehruvian Blunders of Kashmir’. His article evoked sharp criticism from Congress leaders including Jairam Ramesh, who called him a ‘Distorian'.

The article had evoked stern reactions from the Congress leaders including Karan Singh, who happens to be the Maharaja's son. In an opinion column on Hindustan Times, the Congress leader clarified his father's role in the events which unfolded leading to the accession of J&K into India.

After Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called Rijiju a ‘Distorian’, the minister has hit back at the Congress with fresh arguments in another article on the same website, accusing the grand old party of putting Nehru first and India later.

Jairam Ramesh shared an article by website Kashmir Life which defended Nehru over J&K. The article says Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi had complete clarity regarding Jammu and Kashmir, they wanted it to join India. It stated that Nehru's Kashmiri roots and his friendship with Sheikh Abdullah was an ‘important milestone’ in securing J&K's accession with India.

Rijiu quoted Nehru's speech in Lok Sabha on July 24, 1952 in which he had mentioned about the question of accession somewhere in July 1947. Rijiju says Nehru called Kashmir a special case and ‘it would not be right or proper to try to rush things there'.

Rijiju also said in his October 21, 1947 letter to Kashmir's then prime minister Mehr Chand Mahajan in which Nehru said it would be undesirable to make any declaration of adhesion to the Indian union at this stage. The letter was written a day after Pakistani forces backed by tribals invaded Kashmir. Rijiju trained guns at Nehru over backing Sheikh Abdullah's ‘Quit Kashmir’ movement in 1946.

“Hari Singh, a Dogra king, was not an outsider to Kashmir and had as many rights in the Kashmir Valley as anyone else”, the minister writes, stating that every other Congress leader understood the ‘absurdity' of replicating the ‘Quit India’ call against the colonial British with a ‘Quit Kashmir’ call against a Kashmiri Hindu ruler.

The minister quoted Hari Singh's declaration at the 1931 Round Table Conference in London wherein he said he was an Indian first and then a Maharaja. He said the same Hari Singh was pleading to join India in 1947 but was thwarted on each occasion till Nehru's agenda was fulfilled.

In his article, Rijiju said in a letter to Lord Mountbatten before his June 1947 Kashmir visit, Nehru said the normal course appeared to be for Kashmir to join the Constituent Assembly of India. The minister said Nehru was aware of Hari Singh's wishes in as early as June, but the stumbling block was his agenda.

Rijiju quoted an excerpt from the memoir of Mehr Chand Mahajan, who wrote that the Maharaja was willing to accede to India and also to introduce necessary reforms in the administration of the state.

In his column, the minister claimed that J&K's erstwhile ruler Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to accede to India even before August 15, 1947, but Nehru had refused it. Rijiju claimed that Nehru was driven by a personal agenda and created a vacuum in Kashmir which allowed Pakistan to meddle in its affairs leading to invasion backed by tribals.

Among the other ‘blunders’ listed by Rijiju include declaring the accession of J&K into India as provisional, ‘which led to the belief that Kashmir was different, its accession was open to debate or any other possibility except a permanent integration into India was even an option’.

Rijiu claimed that the decision to approach the United Nations in 1948 was the third blunder by Nehru. The minister said that the first prime minister gave a locus to Pakistan by himself accepting Kashmir as a dispute between India and Pakistan.

The minister has accused Nehru of letting a myth propagate that a United Nations-mandated plebiscite is being stopped by India. He cited the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan had laid down three conditions which include ceasefire, withdrawal of troops by Pakistan and plebiscite. Pakistan refused to withdraw troops from occupied territories after ceasefire came into effect, he said.

Rijiju has described the creation and perpetuation of Article 370 as the fifth blunder of Nehru. The minister said there was no justification for creating an article in the constitution as the instrument of accession was same for other princely states which signed it.

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