Mohd Ali Jinnah with Pandit Nehru
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......
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Mr. Jaswant Singh,
a senior BJP leader from Rajasthan has written a book on Jinnah
which is expected to be published shortly. He has, according to a
news item on NDTV, called Jinnah a secular person and thrown
responsibility for partition on Nehru. Earlier Mr. L. K. Advani had
also described Jinnah as secular while visiting Jinnah’s mausoleum
in Karachi and paid heavy price for it as RSS asked him to resign as
president of BJP. And now Jaswant Singh, a fairly independent minded
leader has called Jinnah a secular person.
No doubt Jinnah is
a highly controversial figure. He is greatly admired and is father
of the nation in Pakistan. He is often referred to as Baba-e-Qaum by
Pakistanis. But he is hated by many in India and is considered
mainly responsible for creation of Pakistan and hence a villain of
the peace. Such extremes can never adequately define a person, let
alone being understood adequately.
The motives for
describing Jinnah as secular by two top BJP leaders may be different
but there is an element of truth in what they say. Shri Advani was
speaking as a politician during his visit and may be he tried to
please his hosts in Pakistan. Mr. Jaswant Singh is under no such
obligation and is speaking as a scholar as he is known to be of
fairly independent mind and may not be much concerned about what RSS
and BJP leaders might think.
It is not only in
India that Jinnah is subject to different interpretations, some
hating him as breaker of India and some absolving him of total
responsibility for partition. Jinnah is subject to different
interpretations in Pakistan itself, some moderate and liberal
Muslims describing him as secular and often quoting his speech in
the Constituent Assembly as a proof of his secularism. The
conservatives and orthodox Muslims, on the other hand, projecting
him as believer in two nation theory and true Muslim who created
Pakistan for Islam and Muslims.
We have the same
problem with Mahatma Gandhi in our own country. Some Dalit and RSS
leaders hate him again for different reasons. Dalits hate him as an
upper caste Hindu leader who upheld the concept of caste, if not of
untouchability. And RSS leaders hate him, though publicly they may
not take such position for obvious reasons. They hate him as they
consider Gandhi as betrayer of Hindu cause and supporter of Muslims.
They even indulge in propaganda that Gandhiji is responsible for
partition of the country.
Many people hold
Nehru as responsible for partition and among those who hold Nehru as
responsible there are all types of people – secular as well as
communal. The question arises who is really responsible? We Indians
and Pakistanis while holding our own leaders as responsible we have
completely exonerated the British rulers of their responsibility for
elements at times do refer to the role of the British, communal
forces in both the countries have completely absolved British. In
RSS propaganda main culprits are Muslims led by Jinnah whereas in
Pakistani propaganda it is Hindus led by Gandhi who are mainly
responsible for partition. If one studies the complex developments
carefully in mid-fifties it is difficult to fix total responsibility
on any one person or one party. Different actors played different
role adding up to partition of the country.
First let us see
the role of Jinnah since he is at the centre-stage of partition.
Before this we also have to look at him whether he was secular or
communal. It must be noted that we cannot go by western definition
of secular and communal. We have accepted these terms in our own
sense and in our own context. Gandhiji was secular despite being
highly religious in his attitude. Nehru, of course, was secular more
in western than in Indian sense.
was also secular more in western sense. Both Nehru and Jinnah never
were religious as Gandhi and Maulana Azad were. Nehru was closer to
Jinnah than to Gandhiji and Maulana Azad was closer to Gandhiji than
to Jinnah. Maulana Azad also was deeply a religious person like
Gandhiji though he was more liberal in religious matters than
was thoroughly westernized person right from his younger days. He
never had any religious training. He did not observe any Islamic
taboos like liquor and pork. He never observed religious rituals. He
even disagreed with Gandhiji about involving Ulama in politics and
he opposed Gandhiji taking up Khilafat question. He believed in
separation of politics from religion. He was described as Muslim
Gokhale by friends. Gokhale was liberal and so was Jinnah.
was certainly secular in this sense. He until 1935 described himself
as Indian first and then Muslim. And, until 1937 he had never
thought of partition even in his dreams. He even entered into an
informal understanding with the congress in 1937 elections in U.P.
with Indian National Congress had begun from 1928 onwards when his
demands were rejected by the Nehru committee set up by the Congress
to solve communal problem. He had even ridiculed the concept of
Pakistan initially propounded by Rahmat Ali, a Cambridge University
The two nation
theory was deeply flawed and Jinnah had formulated it as a sort of
political revenge on the Congress leaders like Nehru who refused to
take two Muslim League nominees in the U.P. cabinet after Muslim
league lost 1937 elections and Nehru was responsible for this.
Maulana Azad tried to persuade Nehru to take the two nominees but
unfortunately Nehru did not budge. Some scholars suggest that Rafi
Ahmed Kidwai, an influential Congress leader from U.P. prompted
Nehru. Whatever the reason politically it was unwise not to take two
Muslim league nominees. Maulana Azad has pointed this out and has
criticized Nehru on this count in his political biography India Wins
For Jinnah it was
outright betrayal and he decisively turned against Congress and
gradually it led Jinnah to propounding two nation theory. Thus two
nation theory was a politically contingent proposition rather than
any religiously grounded proposition. Had Nehru shown little
political sagacity this theory would not have come into existence at
all. And in no sense of the word Jinnah ever wanted to establish an
Islamic state in Pakistan. Jinnah would not have even approved of
Pakistan having Islam as an official religion. That was not his bent
of mind. If one goes by Jinnah’s speech in the Pakistan Constituent
Assembly it is doubtful if he wanted even a Muslim state, let alone
an Islamic state. He was all for a secular state in Pakistan.
Then if we call
Jinnah communal in what sense can he be described as one? Or can he
be? In those days when we were fighting for freedom of our country
communalism was not opposite of secularism, but of nationalism.
Anyone who was anti-national was described as communal. Thus if at
all Jinnah could be described communal it is in this sense. And as
pointed out above, Jinnah opted for partition not as a part of his
conviction but as a result of political contingency.
Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible in a way as he was not very happy
with the Cabinet Mission Plan as it would have resulted in weak
centre as except defence, foreign policy and communication all
residuary powers would have rested with the federating states. Both
Nehru and Sardar Patel were not happy with this scheme. And as Azad
has pointed out in his book Nehru, on being elected as president of
the congress in 1946, gave a statement that Cabinet Mission Plan
could be, if necessary, changed. This infuriated Jinnah as Muslim
League had also accepted the Plan and a composite Government was
formed after 1946 fall elections.
This finally drove
Jinnah to accept nothing less than partition. The greatest culprit
was British rulers as they also wanted India divided so that they
could easily establish intelligence and military base in Pakistan to
stem the tide of revolution which by then had become a certainty in
China. Nehru Government would have never allowed such bases in
United India. Lord Mount Batten got Nehru, through his wife Advina
to endorse the partition plan.
Thus it would be
seen that apart from Jinnah the British and Nehru were also
responsible for partition of the country. In my opinion the greatest
responsibility of partition lay on the British shoulder. They
cleverly maneuvered the complex situation in a way to make partition
a reality. Partition, as Maulana Azad also pointed out, was neither
in the interest of India nor in the interest of Muslims themselves.
result of partition is that Muslims of Indian sub-continent stand
divided into three units and Kashmir problem is also result of this
tragedy. And both the countries are spending billions of rupees on
their armies and now such powerful interests have developed in
keeping conflict between the two countries alive that all efforts
for talks fail. Now the only solution is in confederation of nations
of South Asia, with no visa and common currency.
countries could form a viable union despite the fact that they were
at each others throats until late forties why can’t we in South