‘We give J&K 90 percent subsidy on everything but no one regrets it’

UNTIL A few days ago, Anurag Thakur was merely the son of a chief minister and a BJP MP. Several persons answer to that description, so it wasn’t a big deal. Now, suddenly, Thakur is being billed as one of the next big things in the BJP. His Ekta Yatra was a big show for a party that hadn’t done mass politics for a while. It must count for something in a notoriously slow party when you can get Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj rushing to be seen at your show. When TEHELKA met Thakur for its Upcomer series, where promising Indians are interviewed to get an early sense of their perspective, he was presiding over a bustling Yuva Morcha office unlike a somnolent BJP office next door. There have been highprofile youth leaders in the BJP who have slowed down as they moved into the core party. What goes on in Thakur’s mind that can save him from a similar slowdown? Excerpts from an interview:

What, to your mind, is the solution to the Kashmir issue beyond the rhetoric we heard?

We should abolish Article 370 as soon as possible. You cannot treat one state different from other states in the country. Jammu & Kashmir is given special status and that is why the people of that state feel they are not part of this country. Anti-India elements like the Kashmir separatists exploit these emotions and speak of a separate flag and a separate constitution for Kashmir. What do you mean by a separate constitution, when our constitution and their constitution clearly say that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India? We give them 90 percent subsidy on everything. We spend 10 percent of our revenue on J&K though the population is only 1 percent. But, not a single person in this country regrets spending the money on J&K because we believe it is an integral part of India.
How would you reconcile with the separatists of J&K?

Saif al Islam al Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, got a survey done in Kashmir recently, which showed that only 2 percent of the people in J&K want autonomy or want to go with Pakistan. So, it is absolutely clear. Jawaharlal Nehru made a mistake 64 years ago, when he said the solution at that time was only temporary. Nehru’s statement has become a permanent problem for J&K as well as the rest of the country.
Two states governed by the BJP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, are unable to cope with Naxalism. Is there a solution apart from carpet-bombing?

The gun cannot be a solution in a democracy. We should deal with Naxals firmly but at the same time, we should hasten the pace of development. It is very slow at the moment. This is the time for the government to take the development initiative.
What do you think of human rights organisations working in conflict areas?In states like Chhattisgarh, the complaint is that there is no middle ground, it’s like, either you are with the government or with the Naxals. Isn’t there a middle ground?

NGOs and human rights organisations cannot be above elected representatives in a democratic set-up. When they feel a government is not doing enough, they are welcome to contest elections and do something for the society.
In recent times, we have seen the armed forces involved in extortion and fake encounters in places like Manipur. What role should they play in disturbed areas like the Northeast and J&K?

Along with the army, the Indo Tibetan Border Police and the CRPF are playing a huge role in many Naxal-hit areas and J&K. They should not feel demoralised by human rights and other cases, because at times there are fake cases. However, we need to avoid putting pressure on our forces because they wok continuously in high threat areas. Of a thousand decisions, one or two might be bad. It may happen to anyone. At the same time, the forces need to be careful so that no step is taken that may turn against the common man.

Read rest of the article on Tehelka dated February 12, 2011

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