BJP falls to Jinnah syndrome again

Invoking his name nearly claimed the job of party president L K Advani and now has scalped Jaswant Singh, another senior  leader.

In 2005, then the BJP chief Advani got into trouble when, during a six-day visit to Pakistan, he spoke of Jinnah’s “forceful espousal of a secular state in which every citizen would be free to practice his own religion”.

The remarks stirred a hornet’s nest in the party that dissociated itself with his views. Such was the groundswell of opinion against his remarks — seen to be heretical to the party’s long-held views that Jinnah was a Muslim communalist and the villain behind the partition of the subcontinent — that Advani was forced to offer to step down as party president.

“I have not said or done anything in Pakistan which I need to retract or review,” he said then and described the founder of Pakistan as one of the “very few who actually created history”. History repeated four years later with his party colleague Jaswant Singh falling victim to the Jinnah syndrome when, after five years of research, he came out with his book Jinnah — India, Partition, Independence.

In his book, Singh maintained that Jinnah was “demonised” for no reason and that it was Jawaharlal Nehru’s “highly centralised polity” that led to the partition of India. Singh also blamed Sardar Patel, India’s first home minister.

“Jinnah did not win Pakistan, as  Congress leaders Nehru and Patel finally conceded Pakistan to Jinnah, with the British acting as an ever helpful midwife,” Singh has said in an interview to a TV channel. However, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP, strongly disagreeing with  Singh’s views, the party leadership had little option.

Speaking about the man to whom he has devoted a tome, Singh said he admired Jinnah’s character. “I admire certain aspects of his personality. His determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man. Mahatma Gandhi was the son of a Diwan. All these (people), Nehru and others, were born to wealth and position. Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved in Bombay, a metropolitan city, a position for himself,” he said.

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