Originally Published 2014-04-11 06:10:04 Published on Apr 11, 2014
There is hope among the politicians of various political groups in Kashmir as well as the people of Kashmir that Narendra Modi as Prime Minister would take some decisive action in keeping with their expectations. Modi himself has moderated his stand to that there should be a discussion on Article 370.
Testing time for Modi?
"Most political analysts expect a BJP-led NDA government under Narendra Modi at the Centre. Of all the political leaders in the fray, Narendra Modi is confident of emerging as the next Prime Minister. If this is going to be the political destiny of this country, what are the expectations of the people and priorities of Modi?

Narendra Modi is an RSS 'sevak' and he cannot forsake his roots and is therefore expected to adhere to its basic concepts. It is his RSS roots which helped him emerge as the prime ministerial candidate after pushing seniors like L.K. Advani to the background. Would he function as an RSS Prime Minister or a Prime Minister of the NDA of which the BJP could be a major constituent?.

The delayed manifesto of the BJP puts its emphasis on certain basic issues like security of the country and good governance. However, it is not the development agenda and not even the revised security doctrine which would impact the future of the country. Modi's handling of issues regarded as important by the RSS leadership would test his leadership. The Ram temple, a uniform civil code and Article 370 of the Constitution are some of divisive issues which disturb the nation at large. These issues did not figure on the agenda of Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he led the government.

As regards Ram Mandir, Modi has said that this would be within the constitutional framework. The correct legal position is that the Supreme Court has stopped the Allahabad High Court from delivering its judgment on the issue of ownership of the disputed site of Ayodhya. Justice Gokhale, who delivered the judgment, said that if there was one percent chance of a settlement, it should be given a try. This means that the Dharam Sansad of Ayodhya and the Waqf Board have to sit together and come to a compromise in the highest traditions of the country. There is ample land available at the site which could accommodate both a new temple and a masjid. The ownership issue of the site can well be side-stepped if both parties could agree on the sites.

"Ishwar, Allah tero naam" used to be sung at the prayer meetings of Mahatma Gandhi. In that Gandhian spirit, the Hindus should contribute for the construction of the new masjid and the Muslims should likewise contribute for the construction of the new Ram Mandir. Let peace continue to prevail in the Ayodhya —Faizabad area and in the country as a whole. It is, therefore, earnestly hoped that the Supreme Court's initiative at the instance of Justice H.L.Gokhale would result in healthy and happy developments. If a Narendra Modi government and his party could eventually work out this kind of understanding, both the Hindus and Muslims of U.P. as well as the whole country would be grateful to them.

A common civil code again could prove a highly divisive and emotive issue which could disturb the minority community. The Modi government might as well not take it up as a priority issue and wait for better times, after governance improves and the economy looks up.

Yet another important issue which could prove troublesome to the proposed Modi government would be Article 370 of the Constitution. The BJP and Modi have spoken in terms of abrogation of this Article which gives as special status to J&K. However, it has become a remote issue with rabid elements of the BJP after Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee died in jail in Kashmir where he was detained for entry without prior permission as was prescribed by Article 370 of the Constitution.

The BJP and Narendra Modi are surely aware of the history of accession of J&K which was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir belatedly when tribal invaders, encouraged by Pakistan, where already in the valley.

It was, therefore, an approach of "Insaniyat" and "Kashmiriyat" which dictated the handling of the Kashmir issue by the Vajpayee government. Modi himself has moderated his stand to that there should be a discussion on Article 370. If this important shift in the handling of Article 370 is confirmed, then Modi deserves the gratitude of the people of Kashmir.

There is hope among the politicians of various political groups in Kashmir as well as the people of Kashmir that Modi as Prime Minister would take some decisive action in keeping with their expectations. It was, therefore, not a mere coincidence that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference, spoken about the holding of tripartite talks with Pakistan and the people of Kashmir for a lasting settlement of the Kashmir issue. India has held time and again that tripartite talks with Pakistan over the issue are unacceptable.

A serious attempt was indeed made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Kashmir in June 2010, but nothing came out of it. Since there would be a new government at the Centre, most probably headed by Narendra Modi, the expectations of the Kashmir people as put forth by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have to be taken into account to see whether it would be worthwhile to have fresh talks with Mirwaiz and other groups of Kashmir.

How good and effective the Modi government would be would depend upon the men who Modi would choose to have in his Cabinet. Talking about choosing the right men, someone like Amit Shah could well be left alone. Amit Shah, in his speeches at Shamili and Bijnor in U.P. while electioneering for the BJP candidates, spoke of revenge for the insults suffered by members of a community during the Muzaffarnagar riots. Amit Shah is now figuring as an accused in two FIRs registered in Shamili and Bijnor for his 'revenge speech'. Although, a BJP spokesmen has tried to whitewash Amit Shah's verbal excesses by referring to President Obama's statement that voting in the election would be the best revenge. However, such an explanation is unlikely to protect Amit Shah and the Election Commission itself has issued a show-cause notice to Amit Shah.

If Narendra Modi wants to leave behind a lasting legacy, he should avoid the controversial issues and concentrate on the long-term prosperity and welfare of the people.

(The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

Courtesy : The Tribune

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