In a recent rally, Narendra Modi called for a discussion on the pros and cons of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
This led to strong reactions from many people. As expected, for most of these people, particularly the politicians from outside Jammu & Kashmir, this was just another convenient opportunity to hit out at Modi.
In refreshing contrast, Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress MP and Minister of State, Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, chose to focus on the issue and not on Modi. In response to a question, she declared on CNN-IBN that “There is definitely a need to rethink because there is a lot of discrimination against women.”
Ms. Pushkar’s response is noteworthy for the following reasons:
1. She focussed completely on the merits of the issue. Her response was in no way affected by the fact that the issue had been raised by Narendra Modi, who had earlier referred to her as Shashi Tharoor’s ‘Rs. 50 crore girlfriend’.
2. She was assertive, without being aggressive or shrill, about her right to her opinion as a woman and as a Kashmiri, even if that opinion was inconvenient to her husband or his party. indiatvnews.com reports that she said, “Actually I am quite sure my husband would be annoyed with me answering this question but I do also have a voice I am a woman I am a Kashmiri, very proudly Kashmiri …..”
3. In the process of expressing her views on Article 370, she spoke forthrightly. Deccan Chronicle reports: ‘Referring to India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor said: “I wish he had been more fair to Kashmiri women.”’
It needs a lot of courage for a Congress MP’s spouse to speak like that about one of the Congress Party’s ‘holy cows’!
Sunanda Pushkar’s spoke about Article 370 without being affected by the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, the man who had badmouthed her, her husband or India’s first Prime Minister. She focussed only on the issue, not on the personalities.
I hope more people are inspired by Sunanda Pushkar’s response. We must remember that only the issue matters. The personalities are incidental.