As if the present existential crisis is not enough, the Congress is caught in fresh trouble over the Kashmir issue. For a party that steered the destiny of the country through tumultuous times, it is ironical to be seen as a hopelessly divided house, sending out confusing signals to the people on an issue as important as abrogation of Article 370. The shocking inability to articulate in one voice its position on such a sensitive matter has exposed the vulnerability of the Grand Old Party. Its top leadership is made to watch helplessly as its leaders have started speaking in different voices, some openly defying the party line and backing the government on the repeal of special status to Jammu & Kashmir while others causing major embarrassment to the party by raising puerile questions in the Lok Sabha over the bilateral nature of the Kashmir issue. The Congress is battling a virtual rebellion as the list of leaders coming out in support of the revocation of Article 370 is growing by the day. The most telling tweet came from Rahul Gandhi’s close aide Jyotiraditya Scindia who supported the NDA government’s landmark decision and said the integration of Kashmir was in the interest of the country. While party’s chief whip in Rajya Sabha Bhubaneswar Kalita resigned from the membership of the House, saying the Congress’ position amounted to committing political suicide, others like Janardan Dwivedi, Milind Deora, Anil Shastri, Deependra Hooda, Ashwani Kumar, Rae Bareli MLA Aditi Singh and Jaiveer Shergill have publicly backed the government on the J&K Reorganisation Bill.
Forced into a fire-fighting mode, an emergency meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) sought to put the record straight by passing a resolution condemning the ‘undemocratic abrogation’ of Article 370 and dismemberment of Jammu & Kashmir. However, the damage has already been done. With some junior leaders choosing to assert their independence on a crucial matter like Kashmir, a division across generational lines within the Congress ranks appear to be surfacing. It is not clear whether the CWC resolution should be taken as the final word on the party’s ideological belief or as a pushback by the senior members against the younger lot. The Congress needs to adopt a pragmatic approach, keep country’s interests paramount and manage its internal contradictions. It needs to showcase its Kashmir policy solely guided by national interest. If the present Congress dispensation fails to effectively counter the perception that it is acting against the interests of the country, it would be a big insult to the party stalwarts who built post-independent India, won three decisive wars against Pakistan and consistently represented the will of the Indian people vis-à-vis Kashmir affairs.