Govt cites Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s opposition to J&K special status to buttress Article 370 stand | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: BJP has always maintained that J&K would not have got the special status that it enjoyed under Article 370 if Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, country’s first home minister who played a crucial role in the integration of the erstwhile princely states into the Indian Union, had his way. The reverence for the “Iron Man” and the architect of unified India found robust mention in the Centre’s arguments before the Supreme Court on Thursday, with Solicitor general Tushar Mehta highlighting Patel’s serious reservations against granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Presenting a chronology of events prior to the October 1947 Pakistan-engineered armed aggression against Jammu and Kashmir despite a Standstill Agreement between the two, Mehta told CJI D Y Chandrachud-led 5-judge Constitution bench that on July 3, 1947, Patel had written to Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh stating that Kashmir must join the Indian Union without delay because of historical and traditional links with Indian Dominion.
Mehta read out the sequence of events following Pakistan’s Acting Commander-in-Chief General David Gracey’s refusal to enter Kashmir after Indian troops entered to save the state from external aggression. After Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession, Jinnah invited Jawaharlal Nehru to Lahore to discuss the Kashmir issue.
The SG said, “Mountbatten was eager to accept the invitation. Nehru was inclined to agree with Mountbatten. However, Sardar Patel strongly opposed it on the ground that Pakistan was the aggressor in this case and India ought not to follow the policy of appeasing the aggressor. Because of the difference of opinion, the matter was taken to Mahatma Gandhi, who discussed it with Nehru, Patel and V P Menon. During the discussion, it was (a diplomatic solution) found that Nehru was running high fever and his going to Lahore was out of question. It was decided that Mountbatten should go alone.”
Mehta said Gopalaswami Ayyangar (former PM of princely state of J&K and a Nehru confidant who was negotiating with Sheikh Abdullah) enlarged the scope of Article 370 to give special status to J&K which Congress had opposed.
Quoting Vishnu Shankar’s book ‘My Reminiscences of Sardar Patel’, Mehta said, on October 16, 1949, when the draft Article 306A (predecessor of erstwhile Article 370) was introduced in Constituent Assembly, Patel wrote to Gopalaswami and said, “I find there are some substantial changes over the original draft particularly in regard to the applicability of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. You can yourself realise the anomaly of the state becoming part of India and at the same time not recognising any of these provisions.”
“I do not at all like any change after our party has approved of the whole arrangement in the presence of Sheikh Sahib himself. Whenever Sheikh Sahib wishes to back out, he always confronts us with his duty to the people. Of course, he owes no duty to India or to the Indian Government, or even on a personal basis, to you and the Prime Minister (Nehru) who have gone all out to accommodate him,” Patel wrote.
When the Constituent Assembly accepted Ayyangar’s proposal on special status for J&K, an annoyed Patel explained to Shankar that Ayyangar had acted under advice of Nehru who happened to be in the US that time. “If Jawaharlal were here, we could have had it out with him. But how could I do so with Gopalaswami who was only acting under orders? If I did, people would have said that I was taking revenge on his (Nehru’s) confidant when he was away.”
According to Mehta, Patel was angry but not despondent. “After all, neither Sheikh Abdullah nor Gopalaswami was permanent. The future would depend on the strength and guts of the Indian government and if we cannot have confidence in our own strength, we do not deserve to exist as a nation,” Patel had said.