Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad

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Sadar-i-Riyasat Karan Singh administers the oath of office to Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, after the 1957 elections in Jammu and Kashmir

Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad (1907–1972) was a politician belonging to the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference and second in command to the principal leader Sheikh Abdullah. He served as the Deputy Prime Minsiter of the of the State of Jammu and Kashmir between 1947–1953. He fell out with Sheikh Abdullah in 1953 and engineered a coup, after which he served as the Prime Minister of the State for eleven years, from 1953 to 1964.

Early life[edit]

Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was born in 1907 in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. He was educated at C.M.S Tyndale Biscoe School. He started his career as a school teacher in far flung areas of Jammu and Kashmir like Skardu and Leh and later served in the Kashmir branch of the All India Spinners' Association.

Politics in the Princely State[edit]

In 1927 Bakshi joined Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah in the agitation for securing civic and political rights for the State's Muslim population, which was then under the autocratic rule of the Dogra rulers, culminating in the formation of the Muslim Conference in 1930. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad displayed a great talent for organization and capacity for sustained hard work during this period. He organised the students and workers and set up their unions. He was arrested several times during the freedom struggle including a sixteen-month term in Reasi sub-Jail. Within the National Conference party he earned the sobriquet "Khalid-e-Kashmir" after Khalid bin Walid, the great Muslim general.

By 1938, people of all communities had joined the demand for responsible government, which had spread all over the State and the Muslim Conference's name was altered to National Conference. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad worked underground during this period, keeping a step ahead of the State Police. In 1946, during the "Quit Kashmir" movement, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad escaped to British India when a warrant was issued for his arrest. He visited many places mobilizing public opinion in favour of the Kashmir agitation. After Mahatma Gandhi's visit to Kashmir the warrant against him was withdrawn and he returned home after seventeen months exile.

Politics in the Indian state[edit]

In October 1947, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was released from prison and made Prime Minister. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad became Deputy Prime Minister and was entrusted with the Home portfolio.

In 1948 during the Sheikh's absence from the State to represent India's case at the UN, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad took over as the Chief Administrator.

Prime Minister[edit]

In August 1953, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was dismissed and arrested, and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad became Prime Minister of the State and also President of the National Conference by majority vote of the State Cabinet. The famous Kashmir Conspiracy Case against Abdullah and others was started during his tenure.

Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad proved to be an able administrator and is remembered as the "Architect of Modern Kashmir" because of his constructive work in the State. He set Kashmir on the road to progress, gave a practical shape to the ideal of "Naya Kashmir", and earned fame and goodwill at home and outside Kashmir. He had a unique knack of establishing a direct rapport with people at grass-root level land gained tremendous popularity among people of all regions.

On the political front, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad had to face a stiff challenge from the Plebiscite Front which was formed in 1955 but he remained in the saddle with a tight grip over the state machinery. In May 1963 the Congress lost three important Parliamentary by-elections, including a "prestige" contest in which a Union Minister was defeated. Perturbed at the reverses, the AICC, under the Kamaraj plan, decided that some Congress Union Ministers and State Chief Ministers should resign and give all their time to party work. The final selection was left to Jawahar Lal Nehru. After eleven continuous years of Prime Ministership, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was persuaded to offer just a token resignation in order to strengthen Nehru's hand even though he did not belong to the Congress party. In a move that typifies the strange relationship between Kashmir and New Delhi, his resignation was accepted along with those of five State Chief Ministers and six Union Ministers.

The eleven years of the Bakshi's tenure have been the longest continuous stint by any Prime Minister or Chief Minister and are generally acknowledged as a period of stability in the State's post-independence history.[citation needed] Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad had steadfastly resisted any attempt to undermine Jammu and Kashmir's special status within the Union of India.

In the Opposition[edit]

In 1964 Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad headed the opposition to the Government of Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq. In the late summer of the same year the majority of the legislators compelled him to move a vote of no-confidence against the Government but he was arrested and detained under the Defence of India Rules despite the support of the majority of MLA's in the State Assembly which was prorogued by the Governor. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was released on health grounds in December. In June 1965 he made an announcement that he had decided to retire from politics.

Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad's popularity, however, remained undiminished and in 1967 he was elected to the Lok Sabha on a National Conference ticket defeating the ruling Congress nominee, Ali Mohammed Tariq, by a big margin. He remained a member of the Lok Sabha till 1971.

Death[edit]

Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad died in July 1972.

Political offices
Preceded by
Sheikh Abdullah
Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir
1953 – 1963
Succeeded by
Khwaja Shamsuddin