Omar, the BJP and flag-hoisting

Omar Abdullah has never been a particularly responsible man. He takes after his father. The guy who at one time supped and slurped with the NDA now has problems with the BJP wanting to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day.

"What is the need for an individual to hoist the flag? If their aim is to set Kashmir afire, please tell them to stop. If there are repercussions, I will hold them personally responsible. They should not hold me responsible if there is a fallout of that in Kashmir. They will have to come and sort it out. They shall not hold me responsible.”

This is the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir talking. We may remind him that any individual is permitted to hoist the flag; they do so even in prisons. If he has a problem with an ‘individual’, then on what grounds is he talking about ‘personally’ holding anyone responsible? Is he saying he will hold a person responsible or that he will do so in his personal capacity? If it is the latter, then he has no business sitting in the chair he now occupies. What exactly does he mean that if there is a fallout they should come and sort it out? Why does he not just take off on vacation or something?

He wonders if their aim is to set the state on fire and this he believes is counterproductive to the peace that has apparently returned to the Valley. Just to jog his memory, the incidents of the past few months of “civil unrest” had nothing to do with flag-hoisting or any political party. It was under his administration that the protests took place.

Having said this, it must be mentioned that traditionally it is the ruling party that conducts the flag-hoisting ceremony at Lal Chowk. The possibility of a clash of egos, rather than any public skirmishes, is likely.

What is the BJP’s agenda? Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said:

“BJP maintains that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India... We are going to carry the national flag not in one state but through several states...This is part of a campaign for national sovereignty and solidarity.”

Since the Rashtriya Ekta Yatra is to start on January 12, pass through several states and end in Srinagar on Republic Day, I have a few questions:
  • How does carrying a flag ensure national sovereignty and will the BJP also flash its own saffron flag along the way? 
  • Why could it not start in Kashmir and end in Kolkata, for the message would be the same, isn’t it? 
  • Given the views in the Valley and the fact that the BJP feels so strongly about it being an integral part of India, what is it doing to make Kashmiri Pandits a part of this solidarity?
  • Is it possible for Arun Jaitley and any other BJP/saffron party members to carry a message of peace, instead of this ‘yeh hamara hai’ ownership agenda?

At the end of it with Omar’s fumbling and the BJP’s chest-thumping, and the pre-emptive noises, the people may be forced to come out in the streets to give both of them a piece of their mind.

And Omar Abdullah, do not take peace as lightly as you take the paranoia about fire.

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