Already facing an implosion over party line regarding abrogation Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, the problems for Congress seem to just be adding on. Recent comments by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram are sure to further turn the heat on the already struggling party. Congress leader Chidambaram has not hesitated to cause a rift between the Hindus and Muslims of the country by making an illogical and irresponsible statement.
While speaking at a Public rally, the former union minister claimed that the government made legislative changes in the two new Union territories “because the region is dominated by Muslims”. Chidambaram alleged “Had there been a Hindu majority in Kashmir, BJP wouldn’t have touched it (Article 370), but because there is a Muslim majority in Kashmir, they abrogated it.”
These comments coming from a senior Congress leader are not in isolation but come as a series of comments by several Congress leaders who have attempted to bring in a religious and racial angle in the debate. Along with leaders of the Congress, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has also been trying to churn the narrative towards religious and racial dimensions; in his recent comment he has also alleged ‘Nazi’ philosophy driving the developments in Kashmir. Nonetheless, these comments by Congress leader Chidambaram have sparked outrage for being communal and divisive. It also raises questions around the communal angle behind the introduction of Article 370 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The statement by P Chidambaram hs come off as highly irresponsible and provocative. Jammu Kashmir has historically been a Hindu area with virtually no presence of Muslims for centuries but by 1947 the demographics of the region had undergone a major change with a dominant Muslim population; a number of brutal Islamic invasions over centuries had partly catalyzed this demographic change. Nonetheless, in 1947 when the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir signed the instrument of accession with India, it had no mention of any ‘special’ provisions; all the princely states that acceded to India in 1947 had signed the same instrument of accession.
However, mishandling of the situation under India’s first Prime Minister Nehru had further complicated the problem. The Muslim majority in the region pledged their support to Sheikh Abdullah who was a close friend of Nehru. Later in 1950 the highly divisive Article 370 was introduced which many political analysts have claimed to be a result of personal patronage between PM Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah.
This historical perspective and the statement by Chidambaram also brings into question if the demographics had not changed in the first place and the state was not used to settle personal favors, would there be any need of Article 370? Now as the provision has been abrogated, all the major communities in the two union territories have voiced their full support for the developments; there have been celebrations in Leh, Jammu and Srinagar, However ,regions which were earlier affected by stone pelting and terrorist organizations have been under security cover .
Nonetheless, these illogical comments coming from P Chidambaram are sure to open up larger debate around demographics of the two union territories and how the Congress party has been using communal angles to aid their political campaigns for long. The Congress party has ruled India for the longest time among all political parties and yet it has always divided the country on the basis of religion. This move to appease Muslims may not be appreciated anymore as the Congress party’s bluff has been called.