The Huddle

Parties in J&K can start political process, says Ram Madhav

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav in conversation with Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor, The Hindu during the fourth edition of The Huddle 2020, The Hindu's annual thought conclave, in Bengaluru on February 23, 2020.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said the party was in favour of early restoration of political activity in Jammu and Kashmir and that despite the continued incarceration of top political leaders including three ex-Chief Ministers, political parties could start the process.

He was speaking at a session entitled “India’s Political Future: Looking at 2024 and Beyond” at The Hindu’s thought conclave, The Huddle, being held at the ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru. The session was moderated by Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor at The Hindu.

Mr. Madhav said the release of the “remaining six to seven” top political leaders would only be possible after a security assessment favoured such an action, but said political activity could be restarted by other leaders of parties like the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that both had at least taken the decision (pending release of their top leaders) to start political activity at the district level. Significantly, he gave the example of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi calling for elections at the end of the Emergency period, when almost the entire Opposition was in jail.


“At that time too people said how could the Opposition hope to fight elections when the leaders had been jailed, but the Opposition went on to win the polls,” he said. He said the Union Territory status for Jammu and Kashmir was a temporary measure and that statehood would be restored at some point.

NRC not in the pipeline

Answering a question from N. Ram, chairman of The Hindu Group Publishing Private Ltd., on the Citizenship Amendment Act and its linkages with the National Population Register (NPR) and an eventual National Register of Citizenship (NRC), Mr. Madhav said the NPR was a routine exercise agreed upon by all States. “No State government has the constitutional right to refuse to carry it out,” he said, adding however that States with specific issues with the questionnaire for the NPR could take it up with the Home Ministry.

A countrywide NRC, he said, had not been discussed at any level in the government and discussing it in the context of the CAA was not needed. “As and when it happens, all stakeholders will be consulted,” he said. He did not however clarify the status of Clause Six of the Assam Accord after the passage of the CAA. “The NRC in Assam was done under the aegis of the Supreme Court and was an unfinished business of the Assam Accord,” he said.

The BJP’s defeat in the Delhi Assembly polls, its fifth after the thumping Lok Sabha victory of 2019, said Mr. Madhav was a reflection that the electorate was looking at performance and confidence in leadership, something a challenge for current political parties. Citing the example of Odisha where the Assembly and the Lok Sabha polls were coterminous, he said it was most clearly demonstrated by the voting pattern that the BJP, which won eight Lok Sabha seats, had lost many of the Assembly seats within those very constituencies to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). “This demonstrates the agility and vibrancy of Indian democracy and that it is safe, secure and vibrant.”

Ram Janmabhoomi Temple

Responding to questions about the Ayodhya verdict, Mr. Madhav said all parties, including the Babri Masjid Action Committee, had accepted the verdict and were ready to move on. He said Lord Ram and the Ramayana are “an integral part of the cultural ethos of not just India but entire Southeast Asia”.

The BJP leader said while enough efforts had been made to resolve the issue via mediation and failed under the premiership of late Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and P.V. Narasimha Rao, the verdict from the Supreme Court was accepted by all, and that there was “no need to reinvent the issue”.

On the eve of U.S. president Donald Trump’s visit, Mr. Madhav also answered questions on foreign policy and the eye-catching events planned including a civic reception at the Motera stadium in Gujarat.

“While by and large foreign policy is a continuum, Prime Minister Modi’s unique contribution has been his ability to strike good relationships with world leaders. “As for the civic reception for Mr. Trump in Gujarat, [late Prime Minister] Vajpayeeji called India and the U.S. natural allies, and Gujaratis in particular have a special connect with the U.S. and a civic reception of this kind by the people of Ahmedabad is an expression of that.”

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 4:46:57 AM |

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