Rahul Gandhi’s Youngsterism

via Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on September 18, 2010

Omar is only a youngster, pronounced friend Rahul Gandhi, concerning the debacle in Kashmir.When one considers that Rahul’s close aide, the ‘young’ Sachin Pilot is married  to Omar Abdullah’s sister, and that the ancients in the UPA have laid their nationalism at the  ‘young’ scion of the Gandhi family as he is being hailed recently, one realizes why Rahul’s youngsterism is a dynastic trait.

George the III of Britain was clinically mad. Many of Britain’s royalty were somewhat off the track. Neverthless, Britannia continued to rule the waves !

If the UPA believes that it will ride the storm of Omar’s ineptitude or possibly even the  betrayal of Bharat, then they are living in a fools’ paradise.The present writer believes that Omar’s youngsterism was no happenstance. He knew what he was doing and his actions and pronouncements till date have been quite deliberate.

Like his grandfather Sheikh Abdullah he called for autonomy, at a time when things were finally settling down after the elections in 2009 and tourism was returning to the Kashmir Valley and it seemed that life was returning to normal after the tumultous years of the Separatist movement that started in 1989 and was winding down.

His call for autonomy emboldened and brought out the separatists once again. As has been pointed out time and again, Pakistan fought and lost conventional wars against India. Then it turned to the proxy war of terrorism and when that did not succeed it turned to internal disturbances such as stone pelting. Mirwaiz  Umar Farooq can tauntingly ask : did Pakistan send the stones also ?

Yes, Mr. Mirwaiz, there is a stone pelting industry in the Kashmir valley. And the naïve statement that the protestors are not armed is sheer chicanery. As Arun Jaitley correctly pointed out : it is not one stone that is thrown. Thousands are being thrown in the 800 plus stone throwing incidents and a picture of the Indian security forces collecting the fallen stones after each incident, shows wheel barrows full of large well chiselled stones that can be lethal if they reach their targets. Indeed, security men have been blinded and seriously injured in these ‘stone pelting’ episodes. The number of men injured are over 1,200.

While Omar does not actually walk arm in arm with the separatists, he and his father Farook Abdullah’s reiterated calls for autonomy are dangerous flirtations with azadi(independence). This was the route that Omar’s grandfather, Sheikh Abdullah took when he began to call for autonomy. If one surveys the events of that period one can clearly see the trajectory that Sheikh Abdullah would take. His speech to the Constituent Assembly convened to frame a constitution for Kashmir praises the Indian constitution. It also persuades the members of the assembly to re affirm that Kashmir is an integral part of India. It lays out clearly the advantages of aligning with India, rather than Pakistan.

A careful reading of that much quoted speech yields interesting results. Kashmir, would get the maximum advantage from India. Hence Article 370 which gives Kashmir special status. This is also the reason every politician from Sajjad Lone to Mehbooba Mufti continues to use the word Kashmiri as some sort of magic spell. Every sentence begins with : as a  Kashmiri. The present writer has been struck by this phenomenon. No one in the rest of Bharat begins a sentence by saying : As a Bihari, as a Keralite etc. in quite this manner. Article 370 has been from the beginning an alienating factor. It has alienated Kashmir from the rest of India. For that reason alone it should go.

In due time Abdullah was seen hobnobbing with Pakistani officials and still later on in secret talks with  American officials pressing for American support for independence for Kashmir.
At this stage the Nehru government arrested him. On his release came the 1953 Delhi agreement  which began the slow but earnest process of integrating Kashmir into India.

It is this process that cannot be reversed, as the BJP rightly argues. Whereas, both the father and son duo of Farouk Abdullah and Omar Abdullah wittingly or unwittingly  continue to stoke the fires of Separatism by their repeated calls for autonomy and for maintenance of the separate status of  the Kashmir Valley. Both Jammu and Ladakh want full integration with India.

On the one hand the duo reject the separatist call for independence on the other they insist   
on AutonomyThis is a dangerous route and surely Rahul Gandhi must see this. If not, one
can argue that his Youngsterism is fraught with danger for the Indian Republic.

For the moment his  off the cuff statements on many topics look innocent enough.But are they what they seem ? The people of Bharat must take a hard look at this seemingly casual youngsterism before it is too late.

(The writer is a Political Scientist who taught at a Canadian university)

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