Article of faith: History of the RSS and BJP opposition to Article 370https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/article-of-faith-history-of-the-rss-and-bjp-opposition-to-370-kashmir-special-status-5881052/

Article of faith: History of the RSS and BJP opposition to Article 370

On Monday, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat “congratulated the courageous step taken by the government” and said that it “was very necessary not just for Jammu and Kashmir but (also) for the whole nation.

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Amit Shah pays tributes to Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee.

The Union government’s move to strip the special status of Jammu & Kashmir was one of the three core issues of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The other two issues were the Common Civil Code and the Ram Temple.

On Monday, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat “congratulated the courageous step taken by the government” and said that it “was very necessary not just for Jammu and Kashmir but (also) for the whole nation. Everyone should rise above political interest and difference and support the initiative”.

The RSS has always held that “Article 370 is a provision to break Kashmir from Bharat”, and it has always demanded the removal of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. A total of 51 resolutions on Kashmir have been passed in the annual meetings of the Akhil Bhartiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM), Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) and the Kendriya Karyakari Mandal (KKM) since the early fifties, and a majority of them have demanded the scrapping of Article 370. Even though Article 370 has not been scrapped, the end result — the removal of special treatment for J&K — has been achieved by the government on Monday.

As far as the division of the state is concerned, the RSS supported the idea in 1995 when it demanded in its resolution that the Jammu region “be granted an autonomous council”. Later, in 2002, the RSS passed a resolution to divide the state.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tributes to Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee on his birth anniversary in Parliament House last year. (Express Archive)

1952: The first resolution on J&K was passed in a meeting of the RSS’s KKM in which it condemned the “Pak-American Pact” and said that the “open aggression in Kashmir” was still on.

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1953: J&K Praja Parishad, an organisation formed by the late Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Balraj Madhok, started a movement for “complete integration” through a resolution at the ABPS. Later, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, who was protesting the special status of J&K, died in mysterious circumstances in a Srinagar jail on June 23, 1953. During his last agitation against Article 370, the BJS’s main slogan was: “Ek desh me do vidhan, do pradhan, do nishan, nahi chalega, nahi chalega (One country cannot have two constitutions, two Prime Ministers, and two flags)”.

1964: A resolution of the ABPS, titled “Bharat’s Kashmir Policy,” stated that “Article 370, which was incorporated in our Constitution as a temporary provision on Kashmir, must be immediately repealed and the state brought in line with the other states”.

1982: The J&K government passed a Resettlement Bill, which sought to enable all Kashmiri Muslims who had migrated to Pakistan to return to Kashmir and acquire Indian citizenship. After that, the ABKM of the RSS passed a resolution that reiterated that the J&K Assembly is using Article 370 to achieve separatist and communal ends, and that the Article should be scrapped.

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1984: The ABKM passed a resolution stating Article 370 was “being used to fan separatist tendencies” and demanded its repeal.

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Home Minister Amit Shah arrives with document that lists out procedure behind government’s move. (AP)

1986: The demand was reiterated in an ABPS resolution.

1993: The ABKM resolution stated that the “insistence” on Article 370 was one of the many signs of a “myopic state administration”.

1995: In a resolution, the ABKM demanded that the Jammu region “be granted an autonomous council”.

1996: In a resolution, the ABKM said that Article 370, which was intended to be “temporary,” had “become totally redundant”.

2000: When the BJP-led government was in power at the Centre, and the J&K Assembly passed a resolution demanding “autonomy,” the RSS’s ABKM passed a resolution stating, “things would not have come to this pass had the transitory Article 370 been abrogated in time”.

2002: The RSS’s ABKM passed a resolution stating that “the people of Jammu think that the solution to their problems lies in the separate statehood for Jammu region. This has been demonstrated by the agitation spearheaded by Jammu and Kashmir National Front (JKNF) and other organisations”. The ABKM offered its support to the JKNF’s demand for a separate state. The JKNF too, was formed by some members of the RSS.

Read | History will prove you wrong: Congress to govt on scrapping J&K special status

2010: The last resolution on this issue was passed in the ABPS that year. It stated: “Article 370, which was included in our Constitution as a ‘temporary and transitional provision’, instead of being abrogated, continues to be a tool in the hands of the separatist and secessionist elements”.

However, since 2014, when the BJP received a full majority in Lok Sabha and Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, the RSS has not passed any resolution in any of its meetings.

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Repeal of Article 370 has not always figured in the BJP’s election manifestos. For instance, the 1984 manifesto did not mention it, and the 1989 manifesto only promised a “regional council” for Jammu. In 1991, the BJP stated this clearly — but this promise did not find mention in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004. In 2009 and 2014, the BJP reiterated its stand on the abrogation of Article 370. In 2019, the BJP’s Sankalp Patra stated: “We reiterate our position since the time of the Jana Sangh to the abrogation of Article 370”.

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