There is a controversy about the comments made by MP Kavitha Kalvakuntla, regarding Telangana not being part of Indian union. Here are the original questions and answers that we are sharing for our readers to understand the context of the comments. While the right-wing is busy projecting what she said about Telangana not being part of Indian union prior to 1947-48 to paint her views as muslim appeasement, they conveniently skipped the part where she supported the uniform civil code!
The comments were quoted in a transcribed article in a Indian Express article about 1st time MPs and the challenges they face. It’s a free-wheeling chat between 3 1st time MPs – Kavitha, Anupriya Patel and Pratap Sinha. The latter two belong to Apna Dal and BJP. The three were answering for common questions from few people in what is called an ‘Idea Exchange’. The article was published in another Express concern Financial Express later and was picked up by Indian and foreign media before now being used for propaganda. The MP spoke candidly on several counts from India’s inertia over Kashmir’s occupied parts, Telangana’s protections in gentleman’s agreement, uniform civil code and she hiring tuition classes to understand Lok Sabha procedures.
Coming to the controversial comments, here are the questions and answers, italicized -
Manoj CG: Kavitha, you said you feel strongly about Jammu and Kashmir. As young MPs, how do you feel about issues like Article 370 and the uniform civil code which are on the BJP’s agenda?
K Kavitha: Jammu and Kashmir and Telangana were both formed forcefully and at the same time annexed to the Indian union. When I say I feel strongly, it’s because we were both separate countries, but were merged with the Indian union after independence. In 1947, we were not a part of India. After 1947, we became a part of India. Then the troubles really started. None of our people were very rich before. So it’s from the people’s perspective that I’ve started reading about Jammu and Kashmir. We need to solve issues, particularly the Kashmiri Pandits’ issue which is put up in the agenda of the BJP. They say we can all take them back home, but it is just a political statement. You have to create a safe environment before you take them there. We need to come out clean on Jammu and Kashmir. Few parts were not ours, we should agree, we should redraw the international lines, and move on. Development is suffering and you see frequent bombings. Our economy takes a toll. Even in the Budget, almost R2.50 lakh crore has been allotted to defence. If we have a peaceful environment in our bordering states, we don’t have to spend so much on defence. We can spend that money on education, women’s development or sanitation. Today, if I talk about no bathrooms in girls’ schools, I should be ashamed of myself being a citizen of this country.
ANUPRIYA PATEL: To me, this idea is very strange that we are a nation and we have a separate system in a state that falls within the boundary of the Indian union. However, I totally agree where Article 370 is concerned. I heard the honourable PM say that, ‘Why can’t we talk about it? Why can’t we discuss it?’. I feel that there should be debate over Article 370, its existence and its relevance.
PRATAP SIMHA: As far as the uniform civil code is concerned, the BJP has a stated stand on this, I don’t want to talk more on this issue, and Modiji has called for a debate on Article 370. Has Article 370 achieved what it intended to? If a Kashmiri woman marries someone not from J&K, her children will not have the right to her property. We need to raise our voice against this kind of discrimination. There are no industries in Jammu and Kashmir because they will not allow the industries to flourish there. And in 2009, during the Amarnath Yatra, the pilgrims were not allowed to have a permanent structure there.
K KAVITHA: On the issue of not owning land or property, Kashmir and Telangana have similar laws. We also had a condition, a council, which said that no outsider could hold land in Telangana. But when NT Rama Rao came to power and scrapped the council, he violated the Constitution, nobody was there to hear our voice, it’s all gone. But Kashmir still has that law and council, so natives have that protection. But when you want to completely remove it, we have to seriously think of the capacity of the natives regarding the issue. The same thing we had in Telangana, but once it was removed, we suffered very, very seriously. So when we are talking about the property rights of Kashmiris, the opinion of the natives should be sought.
MANOJ CG: What about uniform civil code?
K Kavitha: A lot of Muslim organisations are opposing it, but I am for uniform civil code. We cannot control anybody’s religion, but when it comes to law and order, to control the internal security issues, a citizen is a citizen and should be dealt with that way. So certain clauses need to be included in the uniform civil code, some could be debated about. Only the marriage clause could be excluded and dealt with separately.
Raghvendra Rao: You mentioned about the hurdles you face as first-time MPs in Parliament. Can you cite instances?
K Kavitha: I hired somebody who knows the procedures, and I sat for tuition for two full days to understand the procedures. I have a background in computer sciences, I don’t know the Budget also, numbers give me tension, so I took tuitions for two-three days to understand the Budget. One good thing about this Parliament is that I have seen many people sitting there from morning till evening. The session was on till 8.30 pm and people were still sitting there. As first timers, we are trying to learn. Sitting in the House from morning till evening, I think we are trying to learn.