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'Jinnah not responsible for Partition'

He was demonized by India, says Jaswant Singh, admits Indian Muslims are treated as aliens

Sunday, August 16, 2009 05:31:52 PM, Agencies

Mohd Ali Jinnah with Mahatma Gandhi

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My Hero, Your Hero - The War Goes On

New Delhi: 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.
 

Jaswant, whose 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."

 

Singh contested 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 said.

 

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?''

 

 

 

 

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Comments:

 

Interesting indeed!

Now that jaswant singh has put this in black n white will the BJP stop demonising the Muslims???

It is perhaps the first time anyone in India has dared to say this in a book...but some years back a rtd prof in UP had told me during a casual conversation and i was surprised when he said it was actually nehru's lust for power, and the British avenging their humiliation at having to leave India, that created pakistan...and the Kashmir problem!
 

Whatever it was Indian muslims have paid (and are still paying) a high price for it and the guilt of Partion that has been inflicted on us ever since has taken its toll...

Zohra Javed (by e-mail)

 

 

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