1990 — the year that marked major events in the Indian history. “The Pandit exodus from the Kashmir Valley, the Ram Mandir movement to an extent, and the strong anti-reservation stir,” says Tuhin Sinha, author of recently-published When The Chief Fell in Love, explaining why his plot begins in this year.
Romance and politics are the two subjects close to his heart, says Sinha, and hence this fourth combination of the two. “The story begins with the protagonists’ first meeting in 1990 like I said, in Delhi University, and then separating for some reason. Again in 2003 in Mexico, once again to bid goodbye, and finally in 2016 when Kashmir is boiling following a terrorist attack on an Army Camp, and the male lead trying to tackle the situation as a finance minister of the country. He is, this time handling politics and love together, as the female lead’s father happens to a Hurriyat leader in the Valley,” Sinha explains the plot.
Why such a sensitive topic? “All my topics have been sensitive,” comes his spontaneous reply. “I can’t shy away from serious issues — neither as a politician nor as an author,” says the young BJP leader who is also the Mumbai spokesperson. “I believe that the Article 370 and 35A are at the root of the Kashmir problem and my attempt is to delve into it. I also kind of offer two probable solutions to the sensitive situation towards the end of the book, although it might be difficult to achieve them in the present situation when the Valley is witnessing the worst form of radicalisation,” says Sinha.
How much of BJP affiliation reflects in his writing and the book, we ask him. “My writing reflects the ideas of a well-intentioned nationalist primarily. However, some characters in my story do reflect the other side of the story,” answers the author of The Edge of Power, The Edge of Desire, Of Love and Politics, That Thing Called Love, 22 Yards, Let The Reason Be Love and Daddy.
Being a young politician himself, how does he look at today’s generation and their interest in politics? “We are dealing with a very aware generation but I feel they need to have a sense of history too. They are quite impatient thanks to the social media-driven lives that they live. While their knowledge levels are heartening, their views need to be holistic,” he patiently elaborates, welcoming further questions over politics and Kashmir.
“I have always been quite candid and vocal about my views on Kashmir. I do say again that India has constantly been paying the price for being the saviour in 1947,” he says, explaining how the negotiations between former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah didn’t do India much good. “India has since been blackmailed into doling out endless concessions first by Shiekh Abdullah and then by others. More recently, “I also agree that the BJP’s alliance with PDP hasn’t achieved the best results but pulling out is of no consequence either. A governor’s rule only ends up subduing democracy.”
But it’s not all gloomy, unlike what we are shown. “Things are changing positively too. More number of youth from the Valley is now opting for the armed forces and other government jobs. Remote rural locations in the state have now gotten sanitation facilities and power supplies,” he points out.
As for the future, the BJP, says he, “the BJP believes in reviewing Article 370. Besides, Article 35A (It is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature a carte blanche to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the state and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the state, scholarships and other public aid and welfare) stands on weak legal ground and will not hold if the Supreme Court were to seriously examine it.”
At the crux of the problem, he believes, is “religious fundamentalism”. Isn’t it also corruption among the different stakeholders of the issue? “Not necessarily. The problem is with the local leadership. If that’s not efficient, any amount of Central policies and aid cannot help,” he says. “Had the local leadership of J&K worked in tandem with the Centre, Kashmir would have been a different story today,” he signs off.
ST READER SERVICE
Author and politician Tuhin Sinha will be in conversation with author Kavita Kane, today (April 6), at Crosswords Store, ITI Road, Aundh, 6.30 pm