Jaswant Singh & Book – The Expulsion & The Ban

A lot has happened since I posted last. A blogger like me will remain behind in news but I think I can offer a different perspective from what is found out there – Let’s look at just two issues for now. Shri Jaswant Singh’s dismissal and the ban on his book starting with Gujarat for now. Please remember that the book itself is not being discussed. I have not seen a review about it or read it myself.

– Namaste

The Expulsion & Shri Jaswant Singh’s response

Thursday, August 20, 2009 5:26:00 PM

Jaswant violated party discipline and beliefs: Jaitley

PTI

Rejecting criticism against his summary expulsion, BJP today said that what Jaswant Singh wrote in his book on MA Jinnah and Sardar Patel were “directly opposed” to its core ideology and constituted a grave indiscipline.

“The BJP Constitution says that the Parliamentary Board has powers in all matters of indiscipline and to decide the procedure and the action in such cases,”senior party leader Arun Jaitley told a press conference defending the summary expulsion without any show cause notice.

All the political parties have adopted such a course of action in such situations, he said citing the example of summary expulsion of leaders who contest against the party in elections.

Replying to questions, Jaitley sought to make a distinction between Singh’s views on Jinnah and what was said by senior leader LK Advani in 2005 during his visit to Pakistan.

“There is a basic difference between what the two leaders have said. What Advani said was a tactical reference to Jinnah’s speech in Pakistan’s constituent assembly to tell the people of Pakistan what situation they have come to.”

“But to say that Jinnah was demonised in India, that Indian Muslims feel as aliens in the country and to denigrate Sardar Patel goes against the national consensus and party’s core beliefs,” Jaitley said. 

Answering criticism that the party was muzzling a senior leader for writing a book and expressing views, Jaitley said the party has no objection ordinarily against any intellectual exercise like this by a party functionary so far as it does not goes against the strong and core beliefs of the party.

“The issue is not your right to author a book but the issue is what you say and what you write. The basic issue that remains is what you say and what you write and the contents of the book. No political party can allow any member, more so a front line leader, to write and express views against the core ideology of the party,” he said.

Jaitley said any member who wants to write something that goes against the party line should stand outside the party and pursue it.

He said the party in a resolution in 2005 (after Advani’s Pakistan trip) had made its position clear on Jinnah that he was the principal architect of the partition.

On the ban placed by Gujarat government on Singh’s book ‘Jinnah- India, Partition, Independence’, he said it was within the power of the state government to take such decisions.

Asked whether Jaswant Singh’s views on Jinnah that led to his expulsion or was it the views on Patel that contributed to it, Jaitley”it is accumulative effect of both.”

“Sardar Patel’s contribution to unification of India can be undermined by none,” he said. 

On the timing of his expulsion, Jaitley said a day after the book was released, Rajnath Singh had issued a statement dissociating the party from the views expressed by Singh.

It was only yesterday that all the members of the Parliamentary Board met and the action was decided, he said.

“There is no question of personal differences. It is rather an issue of ideological differences associated with discipline in the party,” Jaitley said.

Shri Jaswant Singh responds –

Jaswant says he has not violated party discipline nor ideology

PTI

Expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh today questioned the party’s contention that he had violated the party’s discipline and ideology by his views on Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Sardar Vallabhai Patel.

Returning here a day after his expulsion from the party, he also contended that the “resolution” on Jinnah in the aftermath of LK Advani’s visit to Pakistan was not a party resolution but just a statement of leaders.

“I don’t know which part of the core belief  that has been demolished (by his views in his book on Jinnah). Patel, what is so core about him. Patel was the first leader who banned RSS but not Muslim League and imprisoned RSS workers. which core belief I have disturbed,” Singh shot back.

He was replying to a question on BJP leader Arun Jaitley who had earlier said that Jaswant Singh was expelled for his views in his book that went against the core beliefs of the party and he committed grave indiscipline.

“I am not in violation of any party beliefs,” he said adding he had written about Jinnah’s intractability and constant changing of positions that contributed to partition. “Certainly the Congress leaders were responsible as were the British,” he said.

He said he stood up for Advani against the treatment meted out to him after his controversial visit to Pakistan. “I believed that he (Advani) did not say anything that was incorrect,” he said.

Asked if he was expelled from the party because he did not have a strong RSS connection, he said, “Everybody knows I am not a RSSman. I never had any relationship with them, neither was I its member.”

He said, “What the Academy and the Army gave me, it is equal if not more than what RSS gives.”

Singh criticised  the ban on his book imposed by Gujarat government amounted to “shutting doors to thought. All of us must singly and collectively think about this step.”

“The day when our politics stop reading, writing and discussing, the politics which is now in the dark alley will be pushed into it further,” he said adding it will become “further hollow”.

He disagreed with the view that he should have retired from politics before writing a book saying leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad and Winston Churchill wrote a lot when there were in politics.

Singh said when he had told Advani and Rajnath Singh that he was writing a book, they asked him to wait till the completion of Assembly and then Lok Sabha elections.

But when told that writing a book was different and writing against the party’s view was another issue, he said “I am not able to understand what views are you talking about. No comment on Sardar Patel was speculative but was based on facts, printed facts.”

Asked about his future political plans, Singh said he will continue to sit in the parliament as an independent member and ruled out joining any other political party. Asked which side of Lok Sabha he would sit, he said, “Whichever seat the speaker allots me.”

To a question on whether he would remain as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament to which he was nominated by the BJP, he said, “time will tell you.”

Singh wished the BJP “good luck” in its chintan baithak where the party was discussing the reason for the Lok Sabha debacle.

He said he would make public on August 22, the letter that he had recently written to the core group of the party in the wake of the Lok Sabha defeat.

–Varta–

Palahalli S writes – If I were to summarize I would say the following –

Shri Jaswant Singh had already started working on the book sometime in 2008. He brought it’s subject to the attention of Shri Advani and Shri Rajnath Singh – both senior party leaders. They advised him to wait (to publicise or release) till after Assembly and General elections were over. Both of the elections brought little and less cheer for the BJP and it’s main men were starting to feel the heat. These were Shri L K Advani, Shri Rajnath Singh and Shri Arun Jaitley, apart from lesser fry. Shri Jaswant Singh, who won from Darjeeling in the General elections, was part of a group or at least like minded (Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha etc) circulated a letter for internal consideration. This letter is said to have asked for accounting for defeat and also spoke of how people who were responsible for the party’s defeat were being rewarded with Parliamentary Party posts. This seems to have been Shri Jaswant Singh’s major foray as party rebel.

The leadership of the BJP, such as it is, seems not to have taken such slight lightly. They bided their time. Their time soon came when the book was released to the public. Shri Jaswant Singh was part of the group that was supposed to participate in the party’s Chintan Baithak in Shimla. At the very beginning he was requested to stay away from the initial gathering and a dinner hosted by Shri Advani – This is when he got his first sense of impending doom.

The deed has been done. Shri Jaitley is clear that proper procedures, such as it were, were followed to execute the expulsion and reasons for the same have been stated clearly. Shri Jaswant Singh flouted a party line that was adapted in 2006 post Shri Advani’s “Jinnah is Secular” speech in Pakistan. Shri Singh denies that he flouted any such party resolution or line and was merely stating his opinion on events that shook Hindusthan in the forties. For good measure Shri Singh says his book is based on documented facts.

Now –

Without going into further discussions on why the BJP leadership entrapped (This is so obvious) Shri Jaswant Singh, I would like to look at the “contents” itself. Again, I have not read this book yet. However, some indications are clear;

1. MA Jinnah played for high stakes. He initially did not want partition.

2. J Nehru and S Patel apart from M K Gandhi seem to have been in realization that MA Jinnah wanted a share in the power structure. Not really for himself, since he knew he was already old and by 1946-47, would die soon; but for his Muslims through the Muslim League.

3. Negotiations seem not to have worked very well because soon enough MA Jinnah upped the ante and pressed for physical and permanent partition. This, Shri Jaswant Singh seems to be saying, was caused by an intransigent J Nehru and S Patel – who Shri Singh also seems to be implying, did not want to share power with any non-Congress entity on a more or less permanent basis.

4. Partition became reality and this country was divided into Pakistan (East & West) and Hindusthan.

5. Partition brought havoc in it’s wake with the displacement of Hindus and Muslims from either sides of the new border. Violence, that was always current, flared up into a fireball.

6. Finally, when the dust settled, Muslims who found themselves in Hindusthan bore the brunt of the deed and were treated as aliens by Hindus.

One is still not sure how Shri Jaswant Singh is looking at this. Is he saying MA Jinnah was basically a good guy forced into mean business by stubborn Congress leadership? Or is he saying MA Jinnah would have been fine with power sharing with the Congress, if only it had agreed to his schemes?

Either which ways, it does not look like Shri Jaswant Singh believes partition was right and correct thing to happen.

Here’s where I differ and find so many Hindu Nationalists differing from olde’ notions of dreamy Akhand Hindusthan. I feel that partition was the best thing to happen. Of course I don’t like the way it happened and we can probably look at political bickering and intransigence between contending parties as cause of so much suffering that occured in the wake of partition – but the fact itself was boon to the Hindus.

The reason I feel so is simple. Muslims had still not let go of their own sense of “leadership” of Hindusthan. They believed that since the British “stole the throne” from the Mughals, the throne must be returned to the “Mughal” ie Muslim. Assertive Hindus have always recognized this fact. Fighters amongst them have rarely differentiated between fighting the Muslim and fighting the British outsider. Interestingly, hatred of Muslim rule has been so great amongst Hindus that they have not really minded a temporary rule under the British. Bankim Chandra’s Ananda Matha of Vande Mataram fame, is testimony to this fact. The numerous instances of slaughter and mayhem by Muslims and Hindu retaliation and growing anger, are facts no one can ignore. So the Muslim would not have given up contesting and the Hindu would have continued to resist – [flashback 1857 when the stronger Maratha chieftains requested the last Mughal Bahadur Shah to lead them – to the 20th century Hindu, this was intolerable] and would have lead to civil war the day the British withdrew from a United Hindusthan. I might also add, a civil war that the Hindu was not prepared to fight and win.

The best option would have been for both parties to plan partition better. A plan that would have included division of land and exchange of population.

What Shri Jaswant Singh has to say about this in his book, is not yet known.

The ban? Of course I do not support any ban on any book. However, in a philistine environment, any mass leader will play to the gallery. Could Shri Jaswant Singh have handled this better? Perhaps. The thing is that I found Shri Jaswant Singh naive. He was naive when he boarded that flight with terrorists to Kandahar and he was naive when he did that interview with Shri Karan Thapar. He seemed to me like a struggling movie actor or a rookie novelist out to get some free publicity. Not a seasoned leader of a political party who has also been Foreign Minister of Hindusthan, who’s speaking about a thoughtful (hopefully) book on an extremely sensitive subject in our history.

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