God’s Own Party kinda re-enters the 20th century


Just what former defence and finance minister Jaswant Singh is seeking to achieve with his book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence is a bit unclear.

Is he cocking a snook at the saffron brotherhood which didn’t look kindly at L.K. Advani‘s previous attempt to give Jinnah a good name? Is he trying to demonise Jawaharlal Nehru? Is he taking a shot at Vallabhbhai Patel? Is he tilting at the windmills of history?

Is he just trying to sell a few extra copies? Or is he just being fair?

Whatever be the motivation, Singh’s book has put the BJP, facing its biggest existential crisis, in a quandary.

BJP leaders stayed away from the book’s launch, its spokesman have had to explain that Singh’s stand does not reflect the party’s position, that the BJP’s  position on Jinnah remains the same, and that Sardar Patel remains the great unifier.

Jaswant Singh spoke to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN‘s show Devil’s Advocate:

Karan Thapar: In your assessment as Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s biographer, for most if not the predominant part of his life, Jinnah was a nationalist…

Jaswant Singh: Oh, yes. He fought the British for an independent India but he also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India.

Thapar: Many people believe that Jinnah hated Hindus and that he was a Hindu basher.

Singh: Wrong. Totally wrong. That certainly he was not. His principal disagreement was with the Congress. Repeatedly he says and he says this even in his last statements to the Press and to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

Thapar: So his problem was with Congress and with some Congress leaders but he had no problem with Hindus?

Singh: No, he had no problems whatsoever with the Hindus. Because he was not in that sense, until in the later part of his years, he became exactly what he charged Mahatma Gandhi with. He had charged Mahatma Gandhi of being a demagogue.

Read the full text: ‘Congress majoritarianism left no room for Jinnah’

Read the Time magazine story of 1946: Long shadow

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ Indian Express

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11 Responses to “God’s Own Party kinda re-enters the 20th century”

  1. Watching Says:

    So, what exactly is wrong in re-looking the past when its so obviously part of our present?

    Since when have Shri Rama and Shri Krishna become forgettable charachters? Or is that toon to indicate you agree that these could be historical personalities?

    Apart from the utterly noxious quality of debate that this book has given rise to – I wonder if Churumuri would do a post on Dr. Ambedkar’s “Pakistan or Partition of India”?
    This is probably the only book still of its kind that gives us a down to earth and real assessment of reasons and factors for the Pakistan demand and the dynamics each party labored under.

    It will not be liked by the Secular-Liberal brigade at all! Dalit leaders ignore the tome and Hindu nationalists are mostly confused by its import. But they are the best of the bunch in that they are also begenning to realise the importance of Ambedkar’s far sighted recommendations.

  2. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    How dare he speak against Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru!

    Is there any dishonour on par with the Bharat Ratna, shouldn’t he be awarded that?

    It is very shameful that these durbar historians of the Congress party either put their traps shut or talk like servile flunkeys!

    Read MC Chagla’s Roses in December!?

    It is either you deify somebody or demonise them, nothing in between.

  3. tsubba Says:

    the topic of his book is old. but i think he has looked at it a different scale. and so his observations are interesting and worth discussing. instead of reducing it to a sling match about what it does to the reputation of a historical personality. should the focus be on what it actually means. shouldn’t the credo of these people be secondary to what actually happened?

    i have not read the book. i saw the KT interview a couple of times. from that this is what i gathered.

    #1. the left, nehruvian socialist, hindutva have the same expectations of indian muslims. all influenced by the turn of the century european theories.
    #1b. contrast to this was opinions of rajaji and azad. but to imagine MAJ as being as sensitive to theory as rajaji and azad were is stretching it a bit far.

    #2. indian muslims are/were not amenable to this. and that is where the trouble is.
    #2b. for example JS points out that despite winning all muslim constituencies ML could not be the government. that frustrated its leadership and they walked out. there is no credible evidence that they tried to reach out to the rest of the community. they were not interested in it. whether the whisky guzzling pork eating, jinnah was anti hindu or not is secondary. fundamental issue is he had no vision to reach across all the people of india or meet them half way through. this is in direct contrast to gandhi. MAL wanted to be a leader of the muslims who wanted to lord over the rest of the community. he was not interested in being a leader of the community who was also a muslim. However he sold it and with whatever sophistication, MAL basically acted like he was entitled to power as a heir to the Mughal raaj. contrast this with leaders of other communities. who stuck it out. worked for it and have earned power. he wanted it handed over to him on a platter.

    bottom line: he was not good enough to build an opposition party to congress in india, so he demanded a pakistan for himself.

  4. Watching Says:

    TS, are you saying Pakistan would not have happened without Jinnah?

    And without Pakistan we would have been a united community?

    I’d like to hear your views on these matters.

  5. Ankit Says:

    It is quite understandable that the establishment, and its proponents like churumuri, who have been brought up on the ‘Nehru is the greatest Indian ever diet’, will denigrate anyone who dares to speak negatively about the aaka.

  6. tsubba Says:

    no. jinnah by himself couldn’t have done it. before that there were significant population of indian muslims who had been prepped with this idea by people like iqbal and maududi. he was just the sabib that the brits could do business with. he didn’t create anything. he was just the mukoTa.

    even pakis dont take his word seriously. even their constitution does not reflect his “vision”.

  7. harkol Says:

    I wonder if Jaswant singh is not praising Jinnah for taking care of a huge problem for what is now India!

    I don’t think what Muslim League wanted would’ve been in India’s interest. A seperate electorate? Autonomous regions within India? Don’t we have Kasmir to remind us how painful these can be??

    I think Jinnah and Nehru did the right thing, but perhaps they needn’t have hurried. They could’ve have drawn out a 20year roadmap to achieve the same, and the massive blood bath could’ve been avoided. Also, pakistan perhaps would’ve had a more mature political system.

    But, blame Nehru (instead of Jinnah) for India breakup?!! No! This actually credits him for doing what was the right thing.

    And as for Jinnah, while he may have been the most accomplished of men, he failed miserably in reading the thought of Muslim mass and his own party. He didn’t realise what he was creating wasn’t an secure, secular and democratic country, but a Theocratic, Feudalistic and Autocratic one.

    It has remained so.

  8. Janasamanya Says:

    Age is telling on poor Singh. Thats all.

  9. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Jaswant is a bloody clown! He must be given twenty lashes and asked to apologize to all Indians. OK now I get it: Nehru was the greatest ‘Sanghi’ of all time:)!!!

  10. Watching Says:

    TS – I agree largely. This only means “Pakistan” is a state of mind; sometimes manifesting and sometimes not.

    Interestingly, I don’t view it as particularly “Islam” centric. Any Minority that has Nationalistic aspirations can go this way.

    Actually, I can visualize Savarkar as Jinnah’s opposite. But I don’t think Savarkar had the realism of an Ambedkar to realize that once another rival nationalism is admitted as existing within Hindusthan , there are two options available to the larger asserting Nation – Let go or subjugate completely. A third option would have been to voluntarily submerge their differences. This last was also impossible. They run too deep.

    Jinnah was important to the League because he became single minded in his mission for Pakistan. He was also extremely articulate. I get the feeling he had no respect for upstarts like Nehru. He felt he could manuevre Gandhi but did not trust the trapped Patel.

    Harkol – Jinnah was dying. He was in a hurry. There was none in the League that matched his caliber.

    The difference between Jinnah and other Hindu leaders of the Congress was he was chasing reality while the Congress leaders were chasing a chimera.

    Nehru was chasing the chimera of Hindu-Muslim unity.

    Therefore his “positive” impact was accidental. His negative impact was real and planned and glares us in the face even now.

    There was no exchange of population and we are left with the same problems in Hindusthan.

  11. Hosa-Belaku Says:

    He may be right. he may be wrong. Whatever it is, he has been honest to himself. He has researched and interpreted the facts as thrown up by his readings. Of course, there would be many other– often contrary interpretations. Each of us have to read and decide for ourselves whether Jinnah is to blamed or not. It looks to me (from the text of the interview) that Jaswant Singh has probably apportioned the blame as he thought fit, judging by available material.
    Only pity is that the BJP leaders probably did not read the book in its entirety, reflect on what he has said and understood how he backs it. But I would not say it is impossible to read a 600 page book; if the meeting and its agenda was known to the Board members, I can well imagine Jaitley burning the midnight oil to read the book. But did he? Did anyone who was part of the decision to expel him read it “in its entirety” at all?
    More shocking is that JS was not given a chance to appear at the Board meeting and put forth his thoughts. Even worse is that the decision to sack him was conveyed on the phone. It is clear that there is little or no intellectual affinity in the BJP.

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