Ghulam Nabi Azad bid farewell to Rajya Sabha on an emotional note on Tuesday that all those who watched him on TV appreciated and tried to understand who is he for whom even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s eyes welled up .
There is a little-known fact that during his tenure as Chief Minister in Jammu and Kashmir , he concluded all his speeches with “ Jai Hind,” hail the Indian nation , which no other Chief Minister before and after him did .
Azad personified secularism and deep devotion to the Indian nation, as he himself expressed in Rajya Sabha yesterday when he declared” I am a prod Hindustani Muslim.” This tenet in his political life was more than visible in Jammu and Kashmir, his home state that has now been reduced to a Union Territory .
His retirement from Rajya Sabha came at a time when there is no Assembly in place in J&K to re-elect him , nor there is any possibility of the Assembly elections being held anytime soon that can raise the chances of his returning to the Parliament from his home state/UT. This has widespread ramifications for the politics of Jammu and Kashmir as the brand of politics that Azad represented for almost four and a half decades is fading. He had been representing J&K in Rajya Sabha since 1996 , ironically he was sent to Rajya Sabha by National Conference because Congress was having just seven members in the legislative assembly of 87. “ We think he can plead our case better in the Parliament,” then Chief Minister and President of NC had remarked about Azad and his party’s decision to elect him to Rajya Sabha. Governments changed , but all the parties reposed faith in him for representing J&K in Rajya Sabha.
Now in J&K, more worrying feature than the absence of the statehood and the Assembly is the radical shift in the politics . Azad may find himself cut off from that kind of politics that is moving towards more fissures and distancing from the idea of India .
There is something in Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose home is in a village of Bhaderwah area , nestled in mountains rich with rushing freshets but so remote that no one could have ever imagined that a young boy from such a place would make his mark in the national politics. Azad traveled all distances and broke all physical and psychological barriers to reach where he did, and still retains the potential to achieve something higher .
In November 2005 when. he became Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir , he broke several barriers – he was the first chief minister from Jammu region in the history of Jammu and Kashmir since independence , and led Congress government in the state after a gap of more than three decades – the last Congress government was headed by Syed Mir Qasim who had to give up his government to make way for Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in February 1975 in accordance with the Sheikh-Indira accord .
In an interview Azad had told this columnist then working with Hindustan Times that “ governing Jammu and Kashmir was more difficult than running toughest ministry in the government of India”, and he had explained that the “ system of governance was missing, the work culture e was absent and corruption rampant.”
“ Why don’t you talk of cross-LoC trade and travel with Pakistan occupied Kashmir as much as other politicians do?, to this question he had a beautiful answer “ Our Kashmir is brighter and opening to greater opportunities in the country.” That became a tenet for eyes toward India in Kashmir , and perhaps he was the only politician in J&K who used to conclude his speech with “ Jai Hind” in the Valley, including the places like Sopore , a bastion of militants .
Now when J&K is without statehood and Assembly , it is to be seen how Azad and his acolytes restore to J&K what it has lost since August 5, 2019. His farewell speech in Rajya Sabha was a manifestation of all this, now it remains to be seen how he crafts his political moves to serve the “ Jai Hind” spirit in J&K
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune.
He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
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This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com