This is one of three key BJP planks besides building Ram temple at Ayodhya and implementing Uniform Civil Code which have given the party its distinct Hindutva and nationalist identity.
Revoking Article 370 of the Constitution has been a key part of the BJP’s core agenda and has always struck an emotional chord with its rank and file after its ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee died in a Jammu and Kashmir jail in 1953 to protest the state’s special status and demand its complete integration with the Union. Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement in Rajya Sabha on Monday to repeal Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was unsurprisingly met with jubilation among BJP leaders, and its rank and file alike. This is one of three key BJP planks besides building Ram temple at Ayodhya and implementing Uniform Civil Code which have given the party its distinct Hindutva and nationalist identity.
Spearheading the agitation to scrap Article 370, Mookerjee had entered Jammu and Kashmir and was arrested. His presence was deemed illegal as outsiders then required a permit to enter it. Mookerjee’s death, considered mysterious by the BJP and its Hindutva allies, and his slogan “ek desh mein do vidhan, do pradhan aur do nishan nahi chalenge” (One country can’t have two constitutions, two prime ministers, and two national emblems) have long been a rallying cry for the party.
His “sacrifice” was mentioned by one BJP leader after another as they spoke in Rajya Sabha after Shah moved a resolution. Right from its Jana Sangh days, the saffron party has blamed Article 370 for separatist activities, militancy and alleged discrimination against Jammu and Ladakh regions in the state.
BJP general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh voiced the feelings of the party’s cadre in his tweet following Shah’s announcement, “Today there will be nothing but tears in mine and many eyes (sic). The day we all wanted to live for #Article370scrapped. Dhanya Dhanya.” It is under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his confidant Amit Shah- both unabashed practitioners of Hindutva politics- that the BJP has made rapid strides in meeting its ideological agenda.
During its first stay at power at the Centre under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the party had agreed to put aside its three contentious planks to forge an alliance with secular parties to command a majority in Lok Sabha. With Modi leading it to back-to-back majority in Lok Sabha and in many states, the BJP has been aggressive in pushing its agenda.
BJP leaders believe that the support the government got not only from its NDA partners but also from regional parties like the BJD, YSR Congress and bitter rivals like the BSP and AAP on the Kashmir issue, shows how much they have succeeded in making their agenda, once an anathema to the most, mainstream and acceptable.
The passage of triple talaq bill, which criminalises instant divorce by Muslim men, by Parliament is already seen by its Hindutva supporters as a step towards uniform civil code and a blow to “appeasement politics” of the so called secular parties. The recent Supreme Court’s decision to have a daily hearing on the Ayodhya title dispute has also infused fresh hope in the BJP and its Hindutva affiliates that they are close to settling another ideological battle with rival parties in their favour.