M A Jinnah is not a demon but is Jaswant Singh right?

I think any dispassionate account of the partition story will not fail to take into consideration it’s many players. Jinnah and his Muslim League, Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, the entire Congress machinery and even Savarkar and his Hindu Mahasabha not excluding the role of some Princely States.

I have already cited Dr. Ambedkar’s thoughts on the subject and see no reason to deviate from his reasoning.

Not surprisingly, Shri Jaswant Singh seems more interested in rehabilitating Jinnah than in analysing the actual reason for partition and what “United” Hindusthan would have meant to Hindus. This much is revealed in his interview to Shri Karan Thapar. I have not read the book but will post a review of it shortly.

– Namaste

Jinnah was ‘demonised’ by India: Jaswant Singh

Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh has said Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was “demonised” by India even though it was Jawaharlal Nehru whose belief in a centralised system had led to the Partition.

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.( Pala S – Alright. Jinnah is a great man. Now what?)

He said he did not subscribe to the popular “demonisation” of Jinnah.

Singh, a former external affairs minister, feels India misunderstood Jinnah and made a demon out of him. (Pala S – Hindus misunderstood Jinnah or Islam?)

Contrary to popular perception, Singh feels it was not Jinnah but Nehru’s “highly centralised polity” that led to the Partition of India. (Pala S – This reminds me of Shri KR Malkani’s pet scheme of “domains of influence”. This scheme envisioned an Islamic Western and Eastern Hindusthan with the middle representing Hindu influence. I guess Shri J Singh thinks some such scheme might have been good counter to Nehru’s “highly centralised polity” and would have helped dissuade Jinnah. This by itself is not a bad argument while talking about a “dissuade Jinnah” strategy.)

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.” (Pala S – I wonder how such “strong” people hope to and do write tumultuous historical commentaries.)

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.” (Pala S – How? By not blaming all those others responsible?)

He feels Jinnah’s call for Pakistan was “a negotiating tactic” to obtain “space” for Muslims “in a reassuring system” where they would not be dominated by the Hindu majority. (Pala S – Obviously. But the point is does Shri J  Singh feel Hindu domination is bad?)

He said if the final decisions had been taken by Mahatma Gandhi, Rajaji or Maulana Azad — rather than Nehru — a united India would have been attained, he said, “Yes, I believe so. We could have (attained an united India).”(Pala S – At what terrible cost?)

Singh said the widespread opinion that Jinnah was against Hindus is mistaken.(Pala S – This means nothing. Jinnah ate pork and drank wine. He married a Parsi lady who wore revealing clothes in public. Well?)

When told that his views on Jinnah may not be to the liking of his party, he replied, “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.” (Pala S – I don’t think the BJP retains any capacity to think this through. I’m not so sure they won’t shout Shri J Singh down; that would be for his silly “pro-Jinnah” stance. But then why blame just the BJP? The entire political class remains brainless. One just needs to recall non-BJP reactions to Shri L K Advani’s “Jinnah is Secular” speech in Pakistan.)

Singh also spoke about Indian Muslims who, he said, “have paid the price of Partition”. In a particularly outspoken answer, he said India treats them as “aliens”.(Pala S – Really? I’d like to hear more of Shri J Singh on this.)

“Look into the eyes of the Muslims who 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 won’t like what I am saying.” (Pala S – So are the Muslims in Hindusthan pained because they forced partition or because they lost their chance to be “significantly stronger” in a united country?)

–Varta–

Palahalli S – While basing the embedded comments purely on the interview, I see no reason why the book should very wildly from J Singh’s general flow of thought. If I were to sum up I would say something like this –

“Shri Jaswant Singh does not believe MA Jinnah was solely responsible for partition. MA Jinnah’s Pakistan demand was merely a bargaining chip in a series of negotiations that were meant to get Muslims the best deal possible, within a united country. It was Shri J Nehru’s intransigent and hegemonist behavior that shot down any possible win-win formula and MA Jinnah was therefore forced to go ahead with his Pakistan plan. Other Congress leaders seem to know better but then they fell in with Shri J Nehru. As a result of all this, not only did the country get divided but Muslims left behind in Hindusthan were treated as aliens for their support to the Pakistan scheme.”

Now, even if I were to accept this at face value, what is left out of reckoning as far as today’s information on the book goes, is how well a united country with close to 40% Muslim population would have worked. A pointer is to be had from the “significantly stronger” remark.

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