Four years after the historic events that transpired on August 5, 2019, how should we judge the Modi government’s decision to nullify Article 370? To answer the question, it is important first to understand the gravity of the challenges PM Modi was faced with.
First, he had to manage the overhang of Jawaharlal Nehru’s “panch bhool” or “five blunders” in the formative years post-Independence. As Union Minister Kiren Rijiju has evocatively captured in his articles, these blunders were not just disastrous but created a vicious loop of further complications.
Nehru rejected Maharaja Hari Singh’s offer to join the Union not just in July 1947 but in August and September of the same year as well. The result – it opened an opportunity for Pakistan to become a party to and so create a dispute. Nehru then blundered again in declaring the eventual accession as provisional, which started the chain reaction of calls for plebiscite and indeed, for separatist legal provisions like Article 370. Nehru’s third blunder was approaching the UN under the wrong section, thereby legitimising Pakistan’s role. Connected to this blunder was Nehru’s fourth blunder of not permanently rubbishing the thought of a plebiscite in Kashmir, even though UNCIP gave such an opportunity to India in January 1949. Finally, the fifth blunder – the creation of Article 370. These five blunders had, in various degrees, hobbled India for close to seven decades.