Did Ambedkar Oppose Article 370? No Official Records Back it
Ambedkar’s speeches, writings and parliamentary debates, make it evident that he advocated a ‘plebiscite‘.
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After effectively revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the nation that the government has fulfilled Ambedkar and other tall leaders' dream.
Union Minister Arjun Meghwal and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu peddled the same narrative in their opinion pieces which were published in two national dailies, wherein they suggested that Ambedkar, who is considered the Father of the Indian Constitution, had been against the inclusion of the contentious Article 370.
Very recently, BSP President Mayawati, a Dalit political leader herself, relied on BR Ambedkar to justify the BSP's support for the abrogation of Article 370.
But did Ambedkar really oppose Article 370?
A closer look at his views at the time don't align with the what many leaders are saying.
Ambedkar’s Views on Kashmir
Ambedkar's well-documented speeches, writings and parliamentary debates, which are available on the Ministry of External Affairs' website, make it evident that he sought a quick solution for the Kashmir issue and had, ,in fact advocated a plebiscite.
Ambedkar even said that the Partition was the right solution for Kashmir!
In a speech Ambedkar rendered in the Parliament on 10 October 1951, while resigning from Nehru's cabinet, he said,
“Give the Hindu and Buddhist part to India and the Muslim part to Pakistan, as we did in the case of India. We are really not concerned with the Muslim part of Kashmir. It is a matter between the Muslims of Kashmir and Pakistan. They may decide the issue as they like.”BR Ambedkar, in 1951
He had specifically suggested a zonal plebiscite and said, “... If you like, divide it into three parts: the Cease-fire zone, the Valley and the Jammu-Ladhak Region, and have a plebiscite only in the Valley. What I am afraid of is that in the proposed plebiscite, which is to be an overall plebiscite, the Hindus and Buddhists of Kashmir are likely to be dragged into Pakistan against their wishes and we may have to face the same problems as we are facing today in East Bengal.”
Hence, far from wanting Kashmir to remain a part of India under the compromise formula of Article 370, Ambedkar was of the view to give the Muslim part to Pakistan. Quite the opposite of what the prime minister or Mayawati have been saying in public!
Unsurprisingly, the Nehru government didn’t accept Ambedkar’s suggestions.
In another speech in 1953, during a parliamentary debate on India’s foreign policy, Ambedkar said,
“The key note of our foreign policy is to solve the problems of the other countries, and not to solve the problems of our own. We have here the problem of Kashmir. We have never succeeded in solving it. Everybody seems to have forgotten that it is a problem. But I suppose, some day, we may wake up and find that the ghost is there.”BR Ambedkar, in 1953
Now, let us also examine Ambedkar's views on Article 370.
Ambedkar on Article 370
There is no evidence to show that Ambedkar was against Article 370.
The closest we get to understanding Ambedkar's views on Article 370 is through what he had said during a debate on Representation of People's Bill in the Parliament in 1950.
Referring to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Ambedkar said, “Parliament has no room to make any provision with regard to the representation of Kashmir." He had also mentioned that the J&K government is supreme.
“The Article relating to Kashmir says that only Article 1 applies, that is to say, Kashmir is part of the territories of India. The application of the other provisions of the Constitution, that Article says, will depend upon the President, who may in consultation with the Government of Kashmir, apply the rest of the Articles with such modifications and alterations as he may determine.”BR Ambedkar
So, what about the quote that Vice President Naidu and Union Minister Meghwal have used in their articles pertaining to Ambedkar and Article 370? This is how they quoted Dr Ambedkar: “You want India to defend Kashmir, feed its people, give Kashmiris equal rights all over India. But you want to deny India and Indians all rights in Kashmir. I am a Law Minister of India, I cannot be a party to such a betrayal of national interests.”
But, here's the interesting thing. This quote is not a part of any official government record.
So, Where is the Quote From?
We found that this quote appeared in an article written by RSS leader Balraj Madhok which was published in the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, on 14 November 2004.
It is said that the quote was based on a conversation between Madhok and Ambedkar, however, there is no proof of the same.
One may as well ask: When Ambedkar spoke so fearlessly and in such an articulate manner on so many issues of national interest, including Kashmir, why did he never express the views being claimed by the current leadership in the Parliament in a publicly made speech?
While the abrogation of Article 370 may have its merits as well as demerits, political leaders and sections of the media have misrepresented facts to shape public opinion on Kashmir's special status.
How else could Ambedkar have gone from being a supporter of plebiscite to someone who opposed Article 370?
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