Indian Express
New Delhi, 25 September 1996
22. J.K. Hindu exiles eulogise Thackeray

MUMBAI, Sept. 24: As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attempts to shrug off the Shiv Sena, which in recent days has become an albatross round its neck, it might find that it is losing ground to its ally where matters relating to the Hindu heart are concerned.

The BJP’s dilly-dallying over hardcore Hindutva issues has already earned it the ridicule of the extreme right of the Hindu fundamentalist forces. With the Sena all set to dent its vote bank in Uttar Pradesh, their latest support base to be plundered is that of Kashmiri Hindus in exile.

BJP ideologue Govindacharya’s recent statements that the Sena’s militancy was abhorrent and that the party had failed to grasp the true meaning of Hindutva might result in the loss of support of Kashmiri Hindus in exile, who have taken exception to his description of the Sena as “incompetent and immature”.

In an extremely critical condemnation, the Panun Kashmir, an umbrella organisation of Kashmiris in exile, has described Govindacharya as “irresponsible and hypocritical” and accused him of practising the same “double standards that his people believe in”.

The ire arises out of Govindacharya’s earlier criticism of Kashmiri Pandits. According to Anu Tikoo, the Mumbai coordinator of Panun Kashmir, “A year back, he was quoted as saying that Kashmiri Pandits have got enough and now they should try and go back to Kashmir.”*

This has got their goat. Kashmiri Pandits contrast this attitude with that of Sena supremeo Bal Thackeray who, they say, has stood by them, even persuading the Maharashtra government to reserve a special quota in the state’s educational institutions for Kashmiri migrants. “On a single-page petition, he took a decision within six days that settled the future of 2,000 students without much ado,” says Ashok Pandit, the western India co-ordinator of Panun Kashmir.

So now they eulogise Thackeray as another avataar of the Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji and dismiss the BJP and Govindacharya as political opportunists for having gone back on every promise made to them.

The litany of their grievances against the BJP are carefully listed but. They are most peeved at the fast that while the BJP’s election manifesto clearly rooted for the abolition of Article 370, soon after Atal Behari Vajpayee was sworn in Prime Minister, he went back on this commitment “stating that the abolition of the Article was not on his government’s agenda”.

“I am sure if Thackeray’s government comes to power in Delhi he would take steps to remove Article 370,” Tikoo said.

“So the BJP has been unable to protect the interests of Kashmiri Pandits in India. And so far as understanding issues is concerned it is the BJP which has completely failed to understand the issue of elections in Kashmir,” Pandit told the Indian Express. Pandit believes Thackeray is the only politician in India who grasped the issue at stake for the Kashmiri migrants.


* Govindacharya should have given a lead by going to and settling down in Kashmir. Lecturing to poor Kashmiri Hindus on what they should do, comes easily to self-appointed Hindu leaders like Govindacharya who goes about with airs of a profound political strategist.

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