Mohd Ali Jinnah with Mahatma Gandhi
Nehru, Jinah and partition:
Mr. Jaswant Singh,
a senior BJP leader from Rajasthan has written a book on Jinnah
which is expected to be published shortly. He has, according to a
news item on NDTV, called Jinnah a secular person and thrown
Hero, Your Hero - The War Goes On
In what is certain to stir up a hornets' nest, senior BJP leader Jaswant
Singh says in his biography on the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali
Jinnah was not the villain of partition or the man principally
responsible for it.
book "Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence", will be released
tomorrow, also said Indian Muslims are treated as aliens.
"Oh yes, because
he created something out of nothing and single-handedly he stood
against the might of the Congress party and against the British who
didn't really like him... Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great
Indian. Why don't we recognise that? Why don't we see (and try to
understand) why he called him that," Singh said, when asked by Karan
Thapar in an interview whether he viewed Jinnah as a great man.
Consistently he stood in the way of a federal India until 1947 when
it became a partitioned India. Singh said that if Congress
could have accepted a decentralized federal country then, in that
event, ''a united India was ours to attain.'' The problem, he added,
was Jawaharlal Nehruís highly centralized polity.
When pointedly asked if the final decisions had been taken by
Mahatma Gandhi, Rajaji or Azad rather than Nehru a united India
would have been attained, Singh replied, ''Yes, I believe so.
We could have (attained an united India).''
Asked if he was
concerned that Nehru's heirs and the Congress party would be
critical of the responsibility he was attributing to Nehru for
Partition, Singh said, "I am not blaming anybody. I am not assigning
blame. I am simply recalling what I have found as the development of
issues and events of that period."
the popular Indian view that Jinnah was the villain of Partition or
the man principally responsible for it. Maintaining that this view
was wrong, he said, "It is. It is not borne out of the facts...we
need to correct it."
Asked if the view held
by many in India that Jinnah hated Hindus was mistaken, Singh
replied, "Wrong. Totally wrong. That certainly he was not. His
principal disagreement was with the Congress Party. He had no
problems whatsoever with Hindus."
''Muslims saw that unless they had a voice in their own economic,
political and social destiny they will be obliterated. That was the
beginning (of their political demands) - for example, see the 46
election. Jinnahís Muslim League wins all the Muslim seats and yet
they donít have sufficient numbers to be in office because the
Congress Party has, without even a single Muslim, enough to form a
government and they are outside of the government. So it was
realized that simply contesting elections was not enough. All
of this was a search for some kind of autonomy of decision making in
their own social and economy destiny", Jaswant Singh said.
Singh said that from his 5-year long research into the subject, he believed that Jinnah's call for Pakistan was a negotiating tactic to obtain space
for Muslims in a reassuring system where they wouldnít be dominated
by the Hindu majority.
''From what I have written, I have found it was a negotiating tactic
because Jinnah wanted certain provinces to be with the Muslim
League, he wanted a certain percentage of (seats) in the central
legislature. If he had that there would not have been partition", he
Singh said that India had not only misunderstood Jinnah but made
a demon out of him. He suggested that this was a direct result of
the trauma of partition:- ''I think we have misunderstood him
because we needed to create a demon - we needed a demon because in
the 20th century the most telling event in the subcontinent was the
partition of the country.''
Singh also said that at the end of
their lives both Jinnah and Gandhi died failed men.
Asked if he
looked upon both as failures, he replied, ''Yes, I am afraid I have
to say that - I cannot treat this (the outcome of their lives) as a
success either by Gandhi or Jinnah - the partition of India and the
Hindu Muslim divide cannot really be called Gandhijiís great
success. Jinnah got a moth-eaten Pakistan but the philosophy that
Muslims are a separate nation was completely rejected within years
of Pakistan coming into being.''
Singh also spoke about the
relationship between Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi. ''Jinnah was essentially
a logician. He believed in the strength of logic. He was a
parliamentarian. He believed in the efficacy of parliamentary
politics. Gandhi, after testing the water, took to the trails of
India and he took politics into the dusty villages of India.''
Singh explained that Jinnah had two fears of Gandhiís style of mass
politics. First, if a mass movement was introduced into India then
the minorities in the country could be threatened and could lead to
Hindu-Muslim riots as a consequence. Second, this would result in
bringing religion into Indian politics and Jinnah didnít want that.
Singh pointed out that Jinnahís fears were shared by Annie Besant
and added that events had shown that both were correct.
Singh also spoke about Indian Muslims who, he said, have paid the
price of partition. ''Look into the eyes of the Muslims that live in
India and if you truly see the pain with which they live, to which
land do they belong? We treat them as aliens- without doubt Muslims
have paid the price of partition. They could have been significantly
stronger in a united India - of course Pakistan and Bangladesh wonít
like what I am saying.''
He added, every Muslim who lives in India
is a loyal Indian and we must treat them as so.
Calling his book and its contents a shake-up call, he added, ''We
should learn from what we did wrong or didnít do right so that we do
not repeat the mistakes.''
When it was pointed out to Singh that
at the BJP chintan bhaitak, starting on August 19, his colleagues
could express their resentment or anger at his views, he
answered, ''I did not write this book as a BJP parliamentarian. I
wrote this book as an Indian. This is not a party document. My party
knows I have been working on this. I have mentioned it to
Advaniji and others."
When asked if he subscribes to the popular demonization of
Jinnah, he replied, ''Of course I donít. To that I donít subscribe.
I was attracted by the personality which has resulted in a book. If
I was not drawn to the personality I wouldnít have written the book.
Itís an intricate, complex personality, of great character and determination.''
Asked if he viewed Jinnah as a great man, Singh
said, ''Yes, because he created something out of nothing and single
handedly he stood against the might of the Congress Party and
against the British who didnít really like him. Gandhi himself
called Jinnah a great Indian. Why donít we recognize that? Why donít
we see (and try to understand) why he called him that?''