Home Minister Amit Shah reiterated in Lok Sabha last week that the creation of the two new Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh did not mean the dilution of India’s claim over the entire original state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the portions occupied by Pakistan and China. While this has always been India’s position, for the RSS and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), Kashmir and PoK have been especially important.
The BJP perceives an inalienable link between Jammu and Kashmir and its own inception, both as a party and as an ideology. Kashmir was one of the issues on which the founder president of the BJS — the predecessor and first avatar of the BJP — Syama Prasad Mookerjee, walked out of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Jana Sangh was founded in 1951, and Mookerjee told Nehru that it would be “nothing short of national disgrace and humiliation” if India failed to recover the part of Kashmir that Pakistan had illegally occupied. On June 23, 1953, Mookerjee died in jail in Srinagar, where he had been kept by the government of Sheikh Abdullah after he entered Kashmir in violation of prohibitory orders. The slogan “Jahaan hue balidaan Mookerjee, wo Kashmir hamara hai” has been raised by the BJS and BJP ever since.
* In its first annual conclave in Kanpur in December 1952, the BJS under Mookerjee expressed concern over the central government’s policies which had resulted in the “invader Pakistan’s occupation of 1/3rd land of the state (Jammu and Kashmir)”.
* In its meeting in Allahabad (now Prayagraj) on August 15, 1953, the BJS passed a resolution saying “Bharat-Pakistan friendship” was not possible until the “return of 2/5th of Pak-Occupied-Kashmir”.
* In its third annual conclave in Jodhpur in January 1955, the BJS reiterated its demand that “Government must clearly and decisively declare that it will make all efforts to take back Kashmir’s one-third part occupied by Pakistan illegally.”
* In its fourth conclave in Jaipur in April 1956, the BJS again demanded that Nehru’s government should “make all possible efforts to take back PoK at the earliest”.
* In its national executive meeting in Jaunpur in April 1957, the party asked the government to “make all efforts to take back Pak-Occupied-Kashmir”. The BJS manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections in 1957 said India “should try to take the one-third part of Kashmir back”.
* This demand was reiterated in the sixth all-India conclave in Ambala in April 1958, and in its meeting in Surat in December 1959.
* The BJS manifesto for the 1962 Lok Sabha elections promised to “make all efforts to take Pak-Occupied-Kashmir back.”
* The national executive meeting in Kota in May 1962 expressed concern over the Pakistan-China alliance against India, and demanded that “active steps must be taken to take back Pak-Occupied-Kashmir”.
* In January 1966, the BJS national executive meeting in Kanpur said: “It is the duty of the central government to get PoK back. It should be the only issue in the dialogue between India and Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir.”
* The manifesto for the 1967 Lok Sabha elections did not mention PoK, but went a step further: “BJS believes in integration of Bharat and Pakistan”.
* The 1971 manifesto did not mention PoK. But the November 1972 meeting in Jaipur criticised the Simla Agreement, and the calling back of the Indian Army “without liberating the areas of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan since 1947”.
The RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), Kendra Karyakari Mandal (KKM), and Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM), too, have repeatedly raised the issue of PoK.
* In 1960, the KKM said the government, “by giving its silent consent to the construction of Mangala Dam in Pak-occupied Kashmir, shown its mental preparedness to give up its claim over that strategic area”.
* In 1962, the RSS passed a resolution in its KKM opposing concessions to Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues: “Pakistan herself is an aggressor in Kashmir. If India acquiesces before one aggressor, it can’t resist the other.”
* In 1963, the ABPS said the core issue in India-Pak talks on Kashmir should be “the question of getting Pakistan’s aggression vacated from the one-third part of Kashmir”.
* In 1990, an ABKM resolution said “Tension there (in Kashmir) could get defused only if Pakistan withdraws from the 2/5th part of Kashmir forcibly occupied by it.”
* In 1994, after Parliament unanimously resolved that “Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression”, the ABPS said it “hopes that this timely expression of national solidarity will spur the government to abandon its hitherto ambivalent attitude towards the Kashmir issue”.
* In 1995, the ABKM said “It is very strange that all the brave talk on the floor of the Parliament and on various international fora about Jammu and Kashmir’s irrevocable integration with Bharat and the declaration that the only problem that remains is one of vacation by Pakistan of its occupied parts in Kashmir should have evaporated so soon.”
In 1997, in the light of discussions on greater autonomy for the state, the ABPS warned that greater autonomy “will close all options before our country to take steps in the light of the unanimous resolution of the Parliament”.
* In 2003, in a resolution on “International Scenario”, the RSS’s ABKM called upon the government “To draft our policy towards our neighbours in the light of 1994 resolution of the Bharat’s Parliament in the context of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir…”
* In 2005, the ABKM reminded the government about the 1994 resolution, and said it expected “the government to stand firmly against any international pressure”.
The BJP manifestos of 2019 and 2014 did not talk about taking back PoK. In its 2009 manifesto, the BJP had said, “The unanimous Parliamentary Resolution of 1994… shall remain the cornerstone of future decisions and actions of our Government.” The 1996 manifesto had said the “BJP undoubtedly confirms sovereignty of India on Jammu and Kashmir, including Pak-Occupied-Kashmir.”
But PoK was missing in the BJP’s manifestos for the Lok Sabha elections of 1984 (the first after the formation of the party in 1980), 1989 (which the BJP fought in alliance with VP Singh’s Janata Dal), 1991, 1998, 1999, and 2004. During the elections of 1977 and 1980, the BJS was part of the Janata Party, whose manifesto did not mention PoK.