The Vajpayee formula

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At the end of his present term and when  2019 Lok Sabha election is more than half way through, Prime Minister Narendra  Modi is reminded  of Vajpayee formula to settle the Kashmir issue. In an interview to a Hindi  TV Chanel  he said, “we have understanding of Jammu  and  Kashmir  and we do not require  the experience of being in government  for five years  as I have worked there in the organization and I used  to  go to all parts of the state .”  Modi  emphasized that only Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s   formula of Insaniyat, Kashmiriat and Jamhooriyat  would work in  J &K. Exceptional words, no doubt. But then   Modi has said so earlier also. In 2017 Independence Day speech    he  said  Kashmir problem will be solved  by  “galey   lagane sey   naa ke  golly   sey.”  But we have witnessed no  intention   to actualize the ‘formula ‘  on   ground      to conclude that  PM is serious about it . Like so many others, it  too has remained just a line .

Narendra Modi  may have   understanding  of Kashmir  from    the  perspective  of a  RSS Pracharak .  That  certainly will not be in sync with  that of  the PM of  India  who is expected to have  a fair  sense of    history    and     regard for the  local sensitivities.  Modi  as  PM   must have a relook at the issue.

Speaking  further, Modi blamed Articles 370 and 35A for   the ills that  afflict Kashmir and wants them to go .  Essence of  Vajpayee   ‘formula ‘   is quite  opposite. This myth needs to be dispelled that Articles 370   and 35A   have  come in  the  way  of  development of the state. In   mid sixties Sahu Jains set up a ply board  manufacturing unit in Pampore; Cadbury  installed  fruit juice plant in Sopre in mid seventies; S L  Wazir came up with his  watch   factory – Swiss jewels in Budgam. H MT watch factory  in Zainkot  is the  prominent  story.  They   set up the shops despite these Article. Similarly  in Jammu   Bhilwara  group had their cotton manufacturing unit, Singer  had  sewing machine plant and Associated  gas  had a  cylinder  manufacturing  facility. Finding      environment  economically  unviable,  they   wound up     after pocketing   subsidy amounts and other financial benefits which they used to further  their  business,  elsewhere.  

Business is  driven   by  economic principle and not  by  a bald  ‘nationalistic sentiment’ . Business men are in the business of making money  and not  to do  the   charity . They need   proper economic environment and a settled political  atmosphere.   If PM really means economic good for the state  outstanding issues will have to be settled in right earnestness.  Hard line approach   is not a desired thing. Pakistan must be taken  in  the calculation. Before that, local  ‘real’’  stake holders  should be on board .   Unleashing E D and NIA on respected  religious leaders and others – whom A B Vajpayee  very honorably invited to Delhi  and   who  had an interaction with L K Advani – then Dy  PM    amounts  to  robbing  Vajpayee ‘formula of its soul . Remember, for restoration of stability in the state, sooner than later, GoI  will have to do business with them.

  Pakistan PM Imran Khan  said there may be a better  chance of peace talks with India  and “ some kind of settlement in Kashmir may be reached if  BJP wins the election.” Imran Khan, as is  well known,  is very close to the  quarters  in Pakistan who matter most  in  the   country’s governance .  We may see some de-escalation .  In any case escalation in Indo-Pak relations will always be dangerous for both . If returned to power, Modi must rise to the occasion and keep his ideological predications  away. We  get  an indication: Ram Madhav –B JP’S point man in Kashmir –  has  softened tone on Article 370 . Speaking in Anantnag  he said “ for this election development remains our goal. BJP’s stand on  370 is clear but any decision on it will be arrived at collectively in Parliament .”   Pragmatism demands that  this chapter is closed.

Talking about  BJP-PDP government Modi   said it was a democratic compulsion  to have such a government  which worked well till Mufti Saeed was  there .  No  it  didn’t.  PM  didn’t  treat   the  deceased CM with elementary courtesy  when  latter  was ailing in Delhi hospital.  Modi  snubbed him in public in Srinagar cricket  stadium  after Mufti had sought  some sort of settlement with Pakistan.

 Modi  complains of people having played games in Kashmir. True, but then even  the ‘nationalist’  is no exception to the rule.   Mercifully, the polarizing   election  is  nearly  over. Many  in   Kashmir would like Modi  re-elected as the PM,  with the feeling that he will  be a new man   to  push hope over  fear  and translate  Vajpayee ‘ formula ‘ into a substantive action.   In  his own and  of  India’s interests,  Narendra  Modi should not let them down .

(B L  Saraf  is Former Principal District & Sessions Judge)