INDIA: Rijiju’s comment on India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, over-committing “five blunders” which hobbled India and accusing Nehru of creating the Kashmir problem has sparked a fresh political row. This has sparked angry rebuttals from the opposite party, Congress.
On Saturday, the Congress demanded an apology from Union minister Kiren Rijiju for his criticism of Jawaharlal Nehru’s handling of the Kashmir problem. The party Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prevent ministers from making “irresponsible statements.”
In a scathing editorial he published on October 27, Rijiju detailed the five alleged mistakes Nehru is said to have made during the accession of Kashmir.
The opposition party asked the minister, Rijiju, to retract his statement and said that it is “unacceptable” to disparage the nation’s first prime minister’s contributions and legacy.
As per Rijiju, Nehru’s “blunders,” which included passing Article 370 and taking the conflict with Pakistan to the UN, resulted in great sorrow, depleted the nation’s resources, and resulted in militancy that claimed thousands of soldiers and civilian lives.
In a piece he published on a website, Rijiju listed “five Nehruvian blunders,” including suggesting a referendum and designating Jammu and Kashmir’s accession as provisional.
The minister had stated that to create a better future, it was crucial to recognize past mistakes. He also said that he had not changed the facts of history to correct them.
Senior Congressman Anand Sharma criticized Rijiju, saying, “I can only pity the mental bankruptcy of minister Rijiju. He does not understand history; there is no proof or evidence.”
“I would say the prime minister should rein in ministers from making untrue, false, and irresponsible statements as have been made in this regard. The account of that period in 1947 has been carefully documented not by one but by more than one person who was directly associated with the merger of princely states,” Sharma spoke to the media.
Observing that the department of states worked on the unification of the princely states, he said the secretary at the time, V P Menon, worked directly on it and reported to the home minister at the time, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Therefore, Sharma explained, “So it was not Nehru as PM; it was the home ministry that was given the responsibility to undertake this onerous task, a national mission, and to supervise the process as per the legal provisions which flowed out of the Indian Independence Act that the British parliament passed and the princely states which wanted to merge had to sign the instrument of accession.”
He further said that Maharaja Hari Singh was the one who hesitated for a few months and that there was no delay on the part of the government.
“There was not a single day’s delay. The day the instrument of accession was received, the same day it was accepted by the Union cabinet. I rubbish completely what minister Rijiju has said,” said a senior member of the Congress.
He said, “The minister should apologize and withdraw his statement. It does not behove a cabinet minister to deliberately mislead and undertake propaganda which is contradicted by the facts of history.”
The BJP used the occasion of Jammu and Kashmir’s 75th anniversary of joining India to criticize Nehru for his “mistakes” on the subject and claimed that Prime Minister Modi fixed them by repealing Article 370, which gave the former state exceptional privileges.
BJP leaders, notably Union ministers Rijiju and Jitendra Singh, criticized Nehru for handling the former state’s accession.
The opposition party, Congress, retaliated against the incumbent government, claiming that its leaders were ignorant of contemporary history and that they should take responsibility for the events that occurred while they were in power rather than blaming Nehru and other former prime ministers.