BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav, while speaking to Arun Joshi, has indicated firmly that a new legislature will soon be in place in J&K in months and assertively declared that there would be “no compromise on Indian sovereignty, integrity,” while negotiating a solution to the current Chinese aggression in Ladakh. Excerpts from the interview:
Your reading of situation post August 5, 2019?
We are happy that the people of Jammu & Kashmir have responded very maturely to the change in the constitutional status of their state. They had lived under the shadow of Article 370 for almost seven decades. They have seen certain oligarchs prospering and ruling over them. Not much benefit happened to the lives of the ordinary people. That’s why they seem to have decided to experience life without Article 370 with an open mind. That puts the onus on the UT administration to deliver development at the doorsteps of the citizens. The administration is working hard in that direction.
What is the biggest gain of these times?
We have managed the general law and order situation well. The administration is managing the Covid fallout also well. What is important now is the resumption of the normal political activity. Leaders should come out and start representing people’s problems and concerns. Although all the leaders from all parties, except a handful, are out in open, they remain muted. Only the BJP leaders are seen among the people.
The new status of the J&K under our Constitution is more or less a settled fact. With new domicile laws also in place, the process initiated on August 5, 2019, has reached its logical culmination. Majority of the people are either happy or reconciled to the life without Article 370. May be some regional politicians still dream of the return of pre-53, but they also should understand the ground reality and resume political work. A large section of the Valley population, too, is willing to experience the new status.
Is Delhi experimenting with the Apni Party of Altaf Bukhari?
New political status will naturally give birth to new political arrangements and the rise of new parties. It happened before, when Mufti started the PDP or Sajjad started or reactivated PC. Those were not experiments. Those were evolutions in the political process of J&K. As far as we are concerned, the BJP would like to strengthen its position further even in the Valley and become an anchor for the ordinary Indian citizens of the Valley, who have all along been left at the mercy of the self-centred regional oligarchs.
Interim govt or advisory council?
It is wrong to assume that political process will be stalled by bureaucrats. It is the politicians who have to resume normal political activity in the state. When people face problems from snowfall or Covid-like healthcare challenges, where are the politicians to support them? Who is stopping them? Having said it, our party is keen that the delimitation process is quickly completed, and the UT is prepared for Assembly elections soon. All other discussions are hypothetical.
Any concerns regarding the delimitation of the constituencies can be discussed within the commission and addressed.
Indo-Tibetan border along Ladakh and Sikkim has come into news because of the aggressive manoeuvres by the Chinese army. Since the Doklam standoff in 2017, India has conveyed to all concerned its new border policy of ‘proactive diplomacy together with strong ground posturing’. We are actively engaged with China both diplomatically and militarily to resolve the standoff. However, India shall not compromise on its sovereignty and integrity.
Resolution of Ladakh situation?
India’s efforts have always been through negotiations and diplomacy. However, peace for any price can’t be our approach. We are making sincere efforts to resolve the standoff by engaging with the Chinese side at military and diplomatic level, without compromising on our ground posturing.
Haven’t separation of Ladakh from J&K hurt the strategic thinking because the strategies are not confined to one particular region?
The creation of a separate UT for Ladakh has been a longstanding demand of the people of the region. The BJP had committed itself to granting it long ago. We fulfilled our promise. Strategy is not a static theory. It is dynamic and changes with the change in situations. Reorganisation of the J&K into two UTs doesn’t affect our strategy. It may call for some realignment, which the experts will undertake.
Restoration of statehood to J&K?
Restoring full statehood to J&K UT is not only a demand that the J&K unit of the BJP has been making; it is a commitment given by the Union Home Minister. At an appropriate time, the UT will again get its full statehood. Pending that, the UT will have an elected legislature soon in the months to come.
(The interview was carried by The Tribune on June 4, 2020. Views expressed are personal)