The election campaign embroiled in the politics of secularism took an ugly shape when Union Minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said on April 27, that Kashmir wouldn’t be part of an India that is ‘communal’ and that those who want to vote for Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi should jump into the sea.
Having taken no step till date to bring back the Kashmiri pundits who were chased from Jammu & Kashmir, Farooq is the last person who can claim affiliation, affinity or love for the sacred concept of secularism which India has been following down the ages.
In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman also attacked Abdullah for his comments.”Very clearly, Dr Abdullah first answer as to why in J&K the constitutional amendment which was made in India during Emergency making India into a secular republic, is not acceptable to him there,” Sitharaman said.
Shortly after the Emergency was declared on June 26, 1975, the Congress government under the leadership of Indira Gandhi introduced the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution, to divert the attention of people from her wrong-doings. Through this amendment in 1976, she introduced the word secular in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution which now changed from sovereign democratic republic to “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic”. The question is before the amendment, when the word secular was not added to the Preamble, was India not secular? Or does it point towards Indira’s effort to score browny points through a policy of appeasement.
Through the 42nd Amendment, apart from the word secular, she had also extended the tenure of the legislatures, from five to six years. At that time, Afrooq Abdullah’s father Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir. He inspite of having the support of 54 MLAs of the Congress, in a House of 75, and a clear two-third majority to carry out any constitutional amendment, did not add the word secular to the Preamble of J&K Constitution, but extended the tenure of J&K Legislative Assembly, from five to six years. The decision quite clearly indicates that he chose to pick what suited him best from the 42nd Constitutional Amendment and cleverly managed to safeguard his communal agenda by dumping the word secular.
In 1977, when Sheikh Abdullah became the Chief Minister again, he displayed no inclination to add the word secular to the Preamble of J&K Constitution. Infact, his son Farooq Abdullah who came to power four times after he first became the Chief Minister of the J&K state in September 8, never once talked about secularism or of its introduction in the J&K Constitution.
History repeats itself, so when; Farooq’s son Omar Abdullah became the Chief Minister of the state in January 9, 2009, with the Congress’ help, just as his father and grandfather had been. He too did the same.
So intentionally and thoughtfully three generations of Abdullahs- Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, who held the post of Chief Minister, took no initiative to promote secularism and failed to make J&K Constitution ‘secular’. Hence, Farooq’s secular rant this election has no merits, and is nothing more than a ploy to promote divisive and communal politics in the garb of secularism
-Sant Kumar Sharma, a freelance journalist based in Jammu and can be contacted at [email protected]