A quote the vice president recently used in his op-ed in The Hindu on August 17 were found in an article written 48 years after Ambedkar's death by RSS leader Balraj Madhok; who spent his lifetime campaigning against Article 370.
“Mr. Abdullah, you want that India should defend Kashmir. You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India, but you don’t want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir and Government of India should have only limited powers. To give consent to this proposal would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India, and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do. I cannot betray the interests of my country.”
According to The Wire, this quote was mentioned in S.N. Busi’s 2016 book, Dr. B.R Ambedkar: Framing of Indian Constitution and Busi himself now accepts that the quote may have been a product of an agenda by the RSS member whose goal was to abrogate Article 370. Madhok was a Sangh parivar activist from Jammu who for the majority portion of his life spent time advocating against Section 370.
A lot of Dalit thinkers and websites have hailed this quote as being fake. This quote was not only used by Venkaiah Naidu so as to send a positive message to majority of his followers, but also used by PM Modi in his public address on August 8. The clear goal for this was to appeal to a mass of Dalit followers who revere Dr BR Ambedkar. The quote is picked up from Balraj Madhok’s article published in [the RSS mouthpiece] Organiser, in its Deepawali edition of November 14, 2004.
Ambedkar’s support for plebiscite
Ambedkar always advocated for a plebiscite, that the people’s interests could be taken up first; as the defence budgets for India were soaring in view of a constant need for armed forces in Kashmir. In 1950, while the law minister was addressing the nation, he argued that the rising defence budget is a great “stumbling block in the path of the welfare of this country.”
Ambedkar had said in the Parliament -“…on our part we never seem to be able to realise that the sooner we settle this Kashmir problem the better for us, because if the excuse for this enormous increase in our Defence Budget is to be attributed to the Kashmir tangle, is it not our duty to do something, to contribute something, positively in order to bring that dispute to an end?”
“On the Kashmir issue, the policy adopted by the Congress Government is not acceptable to the Scheduled Castes Federation. This policy if continued will lead to a perpetual enmity between India and Pakistan, and the possibility of war between the two countries. The Scheduled Castes Federation believes that it is essential for the good of both countries that they should be good and friendly neighbours. For this purpose, the proper policy to adopt towards Pakistan should be based upon two considerations. (1) There should be no talk about the annulment of the partition of India. Partition should be accepted as a settled fact not to be reopened and that the two countries to continue as two separate sovereign States. (2) That, Kashmir to be partitioned– the Muslim area to go to Pakistan (subject to the wishes of the Kashmiris living in the Valley) and the non-Muslim area consisting of Jammu and Ladakh to come to India.”
“I fear that a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir may go against India. In order to save Hindu and Buddhist population of Jammu and Ladakh, from going to Pakistan, in such an eventuality, there should be zonal plebiscite in Jammu, Ladakh, and Kashmir.”
As opposed to what Naidu asserted, Ambedkar had no contentions against the special status for Kashmir, in fact, he seemed like an avid supporter of the plebiscite, and a huge opponent of any decision-making without involving the people of Kashmir and their voices. Not only did he want a zonal plebiscite, but he also spoke vehemently against the militarisation.
The Hindu right wants to bend the former law minister’s statements to their will so as to suit their own narrative of the Hindu Rashtra. This appropriating seems like they need the marginalised under their electoral umbrella. Not only have they quoted him out of context, but also changed his statement entirely. Saddening as it is, even the Vice-President of this country made such misrepresentation of Ambedkar’s views to fit his assertions.