A tale of two people

So Nehru entered into an agreement with Sheikh Abdullah for special treatment for Jammu and Kashmir – the Article 370 of the constitution. And the constituent assembly was in progress for finalizing the constitution of India.

India had just become independent and the integration of the states into the Indian union was in progress with Sardar Patel at the helm, he being the Home Minister of independent India.

Nehru, as the Prime Minister and a native of Jammu and Kashmir, took special interest and was looking at how the state could be integrated into the Indian union. But unknown to anybody else he had entered into an agreement with Sheikh Abdullah effectively agreeing for many things like Indians from other parts of the country not being able to buy property in J&K – effectively according special status to the state in the Indian union.

Sardar Patel was asked specifically not to look into the J&K affairs. Nehru had appointed Gopalaswamy Aiyangar, the then Prime Minister of Jammu as the Minister without portfolio to look into the J&K integration on his behalf.  Aiyangar, as a true Gandhian and an loyal soldier of the Congress, was performing his role as per the wishes of Nehru.

Let us take a step back to 1947. Gopalaswamy Aiyangar had been inducted into the cabinet to look into the J&K affairs by Nehru without consulting Patel who was the Home Minister and in-charge of states’ integration. Patel was justifiably angry and told Nehru about it. Nehru immediately shot back a letter to Patel saying that Ayyangar has been appointed exclusively by Nehru to look into J&K due to his knowledge of the state and hence expected every other minister to fall in line and support Ayyangar in that task. This letter was dated 23-Dec-1947.

Upon receipt of the letter from Nehru, within one hour, Patel sent in his resignation letter, thanking Nehru for the cooperation given during his tenure. Then Mahatma Gandhi had to intervene and ensure that Patel rejoined the cabinet.

In this back drop, the constituent assembly was formed and was drafting the constitution when Nehru had entered into the rather un-welcome and wholly irresponsible pact with Sheikh Abdullah that we saw in the beginning of this post.

Let us come back to 1950 when the constitution was about to be adopted. The information about the pact was not known to the cabinet. Nehru instructed Ayyangar to table the Article 370 proposal on a particular day in the constituent assembly proceedings after Nehru himself had gone out of the country to attend a common wealth conference of heads of state.

Note that Nehru had instructed Ayyangar to table the proposal after he himself was out of the country.

Ayyangar was torn between his loyalty to the party and the word of his boss. As a loyal soldier, he tabled the proposal.

Justifiably there was enough uproar and all the nationalists wanted the special status removed.

The matter went to Patel as he was the acting PM with the actual PM out of the country. He was angry beyond all means. He asked Ayyangar, ” How could you do this? What face do I show to the other states?”, to which Ayyangar said that he had been specifically instructed by his boss to table the report and be done with that.

Excepting for Maulana Abul Kalam Azad every one in the Congress objected to that.

But the Sardar took a decision. He said,” Ayyangar did not draft this. He has been asked by Nehru to do place the proposal in the assembly. With the head of the nation outside the country attending an international event, it would be improper to defeat his proposal as that would lower the dignity of the PM as well as that of the nation. So let us go ahead with this with changes ..”.

Later that year Patel died.

On July 24, 1952, Nehru made a statement in the Lok Sabha saying that the Kashmir issue had gone to the UN as the issue had been mis-handled by Sardar Patel when he was out of the country. So it was the Sardar who was responsible for Article 370.

Times had changed by then.  V.Shankar, who was the personal Assistant to Patel during his time was made the Secretary to work for Gopalaswamy Ayyangar who had become the Home Minister replacing Patel. Shankar knew of the proceedings. So he confronted Ayyangar on this to which Ayyangar said,”It is an ill-return to the Sardar for the magnanimity he had shown in accepting Panditji’s point of view against his better judgement. I have told this to Jawahar Lal Nehru already”.

Fast forward to 2013.

The Prime Minister accepts the cabinet’s recommendation on the criminal legislature ordinance and sends the same to the President for approval and leaves to the US.

Rahul Gandhi, the scion of Nehru family, says, “tear the bill and put that into the dust bin”.

Treachery and lack of magnanimity are in the blood it seems.

So what is the need to write about this today ?

Patel died on this day 15-December-1950.

( Ref: ‘A secular agenda’ – Arun Shourie )

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