What makes Rajmohan Gandhi tick in a manner which defies all reason?
Is there a disconnect between the so-called Liberals and the Reality, or it is simply a case of permanent discontent with the present dispensation which in turn makes our Liberals, Malcontents!
It is not a critique of Liberals or Liberalism but very specifically looking at Rajmohan Gandhi and his criticism of abrogation of Article 370 by the Parliament. It is prudent to know that the aforementioned Article was removed by the Parliament and not the BJP, as the ruling party it definitely was the catalyst, at the forefront of the move to remove this Article and its implications on the Constitution, the Nation and the State Of J&K.
There is no denying the fact that the BJP ever since its birth as Bhartiya Jan Sangh under its founder president Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee has made the removal of Article 370 its primary aim and it has been reflected in its manifestos ever since.
The government not only outfoxed the Opposition in both the Rajya Sabha, where it is short of a majority, and Lok Sabha but also in the political and social debate that followed the momentous decision.
The overwhelming support for the abrogation of Article 370 is indicative of the Mood of the Nation, most of the Opposition went with the government realising that it is what the People want. Many a Congress leader supported the government. This has riled a class of people in this country who cannot accept the fact that the country has changed, according to this Class, it has changed for the Worse. That is their opinion and they are entitled to their opinion. But, does this change anything on the ground? Emphatically- No!
It is to this class that Rajmohan Gandhi belongs, the perennial disenchanted, finding faults in anything and everything which the present government does. And, on 19 August he comes up with an article in the Indian Express, “ Where there is no Free Will “ with regard to the abrogation of Article 370.
How is Free Will defined in a democracy?
Will of the People obtained without force, fear and allures are supposedly a Free Will. You can add many other attributes but this suffices as a basic definition. I am no eclectic thinker nor a political philosopher and this premise hold good for most, Rajmohan Gandhi not included. He quotes Abbe Dubois, a French Missionary, who says that the People Of Kannada, Tamil Nadu & Kerala ” ‘cherish and respect’ the new rule of the British who defeated Tipu Sultan but ‘hate and despise’ their new rulers from the bottom of their hearts “!
As a Frenchman Abbey Dubois must have found it hard to put words in English and maybe that is the reason we are confused and so is Rajmohan Gandhi. People cherished and respected the British but hated and despised them at the same moment is comical. The reason given is that the people are simultaneously in this state of emotions because they were not asked by the British if they really wanted this new administrative machinery which they cherished and respected…
If readers make any sense out of this please elucidate. This analogy is presented in the defence of his criticism of the abrogation of Article 370 in this article in the Indian Express. Rajmohan Gandhi even assumes that by 2024 J&K may become a much better State in all parameters but the fact that the People were not asked whether they wanted a complete integration with the rest of the country will always haunt the country. To turn this analogy on its head…
What has been the most Fundamental Question which rose at the time of Partition of India, especially in the aftermath of the violence which followed the declaration of Partition, since the division of India was itself based on Religion?
The character of the future State which will follow Independence bloodied by the horrendous bloodbaths on both sides of the Radcliffe Line. Precisely.
This perhaps was the most important issue to have arisen after India gained Freedom, it never Won Freedom. But, did our so-called Founding Fathers ever put this Question in the public domain? No.
This constitutes the illogicality of the argument of Rajmohan Gandhi when he talks of ‘Consent’ of the people. Mr Rajmohan Gandhi, when the destiny of the new Nation was being decided it was held to ransom by the delegates to the Constituent Assembly, where only one party, ie., Congress held sway and it sat upon every decision which would come back to haunt us for the next many years. If, Consent or the Free Will was such an important part of a decision making by the Nation, then what prevented the then government and the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru to hold a Referendum on the Question of Character of the State as to whether India would be a Theological Hindu Rashtra or the Secular Republic?
No consent or free will of people was ascertained by the power-hungry Congress or its Prime Minister. They substituted the Will of the People by forcing the Westminster model complete with the alien Western concept of Secularism. Has anyone ever heard or read Rajmohan Gandhi debating the manner in which Secularism was made a Fundamental part of our Constitution?
Mr Gandhi has problems with the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated, but it will be prudent to ask him, does Free Will or Consent specifically means the Consent of the People of Kashmir Valley or he means the Will of the People of the State Of Jammu and Kashmir?
Both these are as different as Chalk and Cheese, Kashmir Valley is a geographical area which harbours the grandiose illusion of being different, of establishing a Caliphate or a Nizam I Mustafa, while their counterparts in Jammu and Ladakh want a complete integration with mainland India. Not just Jammu and Ladakh, the non-Sunni Muslim population, the Gujjars, Shias of Kashmir Valley do not want to be part of the machinations of the Kashmiri Sunnis.
Accordingly, Mr Rajmohan Gandhi, the majority population of the State of J&K have consented to the move of the Government of India and Narendra Modi to remove the oldest festering wound of the Partition. Let me add with a caveat, the People of the Northern Areas or the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir aren’t really enamoured of Pakistan. If you add the population of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, the overwhelming sentiment is in favour of abrogation of Article 370.
Your analogy about the people of Kannada, Kerala about Tipu and British is as absurd as it can get. Mr Gandhi, you must re-read your analogy without your inherent biases, it will look as incongruous to you as it seems to others.
The incongruity of your argument becomes all the more farcical when the Nation’s Will is reflected in the majority of elected representatives voting overwhelmingly in favour of Abrogation. The numbers are 370 in LokSabha and 125 in RajyaSabha. Interestingly, NDA doesn’t have a majority in RajyaSabha.
Sir, liberalism is not living in denial but acceptance of reality which manifests itself in the Will of the People.