Questioning Jawaharlal Nehru’s policies, Union Minister Jitendra Singh Friday said if Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had been given a free hand to deal with Jammu and Kashmir, as in case of other princely states, the situation there would have been different. Delivering the 59th Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture here, the Minister of State in the PMO said just as Nehru’s “midnight arrival” heralded a new era for India, the “twilight arrival” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi can also be described as the beginning of a new era.
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Singh said Nehru, free India’s first Prime Minister, believed that he knew Jammu and Kashmir better than Patel and thought he should take care of it rather than the Home Minister, who integrated over 560 other princely states into the Indian union.
“The common opinion is that the course of events would have been different if Sardar Patel was given the liberty to handle, like other (princely) states, Jammu and Kashmir as well. Because Nehru believed that he knew Jammu and Kashmir better than Sardar sahab and therefore he should take care of it. And then going to UNO and all those things…,” he said.
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Noting that the UN resolution was not against the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India but Pakistan’s aggression against the country, Singh said the document itself became “infructuous” as one of its conditions was that Pakistan also had to withdraw from the territory it had occupied, something it refused to do.
“Nevertheless it (UN resolution) gave rise to another school of thought which said that Jammu and Kashmir was something which could be discussed internationally and even at the UN which I personally do not agree. We have no such issue as Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
“It is an integral part of India, it always was. If at all there is an issue it is how to free the part of Jammu and Kashmir which continues to be under illegal occupation of Pakistan,” he said.
“I have no hesitation to say time unfortunately proved Nehru wrong. The example of Pir Panjal and Hindi-Chini bhai bhai…that experiment failed in his own lifetime and unfortunately also weighed on him,” Singh said.
About the non-aligned movement, Singh said, in less than ten years of Nehru’s passing away, Indira Gandhi had to enter into an accord with the Soviet Union because of the growing threat from the US. Nehru was one of the founding leaders of the NAM whose main objective was to build a grouping of nations which were not formally aligned to either the US or the Soviet Union, the two major powers during the cold war.
Claiming Nehru was more English than an Englishman, Singh said,” It is for the first time in the history of independent India that Modi is being hailed as a Prime Minister from India, as India’s Prime Minister, an Indian Prime Minister and that is something of a big achievement. Also, it is a reflection of coming of age of Indian democracy.”
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore also spoke.
Describing Patel as the father of ‘Swachhata Abhiyan’, Rathore said the country’s first Home Minister “saved and re-established” India’s hold over Kashmir by organising an army which pushed backed the Pakistani tribesmen who wanted to capture it.