J&K suffered due to Nehru's 2 major blunders: Amit Shah in Lok Sabha; Congress seeks debate on first PM

NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday blamed India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's "two major blunders" - declaring a ceasefire without winning the entire Kashmir and taking the issue to the United Nations - for the sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

As Shah trained his guns on Nehru while replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha on the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, Congress' leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury interjected alleging that when it comes to the Kashmir issue, BJP leaders unnecessarily criticise Nehru.

Chowdhury asserted that Congress leaders were tired of listening to this kind of criticism and asserted that he was verbally demanding that a daylong debate be held on Kashmir and Nehru.

In his speech, Shah said if Nehru had taken the right steps, a large chunk of territory would not have been ceded and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir would have been part of India.

"I support the word that was used here - Nehruvian blunder. Because of the blunder that was committed during the time of Nehru, Kashmir had to suffer. With responsibility, I want to say that the two big blunders that happened during the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru, happened due to his decisions, because of which Kashmir had to suffer for years," Shah said.

"Kashmir had to suffer due to Nehruvian blunders. One was that when our Army was winning and as soon as Punjab area was reached, ceasefire was declared and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was born. If the ceasefire would have been (declared) three days later, PoK would have been part of India," the home minister said.

The ceasefire made without winning the entire Kashmir was one "blunder" and the other was taking the issue to the UN, he alleged.

There was an uproar by the opposition benches over the remarks on Nehru and they staged a walkout but returned later.

After their walkout, BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said the home minister should also talk about the "Himalayan blunder", a reference to Nehru's actions leading up to the war with China in 1962. Shah quipped that his talking about two blunders had upset the opposition benches and if he had used the phrase "Himalayan blunder", they would have resigned.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said the remarks made were not an insult to anyone and were only made to put things in context.

In his remarks, Shah also alleged that the Kashmir matter was taken to the UN in a hurry.

"If at all it had to be taken to the UN, it should have been sent under Article 51 rather than Article 35 of the UN Charter," he said, asserting that he of course believes that the issue should not have been taken to the UN in the first place.

Shah also quoted Nehru as saying later that the ceasefire was a "mistake". Shah added that it was not Nehru's mistake but a blunder.

Shah pointed out that one of the two bills on Jammu and Kashmir seek to nominate two Kashmiri Migrant community members, including a woman, to the assembly.

One seat in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly will be set aside for people displaced from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the home minister said.

He said after the delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir, there will be 43 assembly seats in Jammu region - up from present 37 - and in Kashmir Valley it will be 47 from 46.

As many as 24 seats will be kept for the residents of PoK, he said.

Talking about the abrogation of Article 370, Shah said it had nothing to do with going back on promise as it was a temporary article and had to go.

"You did not have the courage, PM Narendra Modi showed courage and did away with it," he said, referring to the opposition benches.

More than 45,000 people have lost their lives due to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir so far, he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill seeks to change the nomenclature of "weak and underprivileged classes" to "Other Backward Classes".

The Union Territory, which has the provision for a legislative assembly, is currently under central rule.

The home minister also said that the Congress has done the "greatest harm" to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) over the years and done nothing for their welfare.

Shah alleged that historically, the Congress has opposed the welfare of the backward classes and has only resorted to lip-service for such communities.

He said Narendra Modi was born into a poor family and became the prime minister and he knows the pain of the backward classes and the poor.

Shah said the government's focus was on ending the terror ecosystem in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said a plan to have zero terror incident in Jammu and Kashmir is in force for three years and it will be successful by 2026.

"I believe Modi government will return to power in 2024 and by 2026, I hope there will be no terror incident in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Shah said the two bills will give justice to those deprived of their rights for the last 70 years and asserted that reservation to the displaced people will give them a voice in the legislature.

He said that had terrorism been tackled at the beginning without considering vote-bank politics, Kashmiri Pandits would not have had to leave Kashmir Valley.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill were passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

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