Jaswant Singh is not wrong on Jinnah (Comment)

August 26th, 2009 - 10:00 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Firoz Bakht Ahmed
The ghost of partition is haunting us even today. I am no admirer of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, but Jaswant Singh is right in trying to peel off years and years of falsification of the truth behind India’s partition. His “Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence” is a path-breaking book.

Jaswant Singh has lifted the curtains from some embarrassing but true incidents leading to the vivisection of India. He has described the “epic journey of Jinnah from being the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, the liberal constitutionalist and Indian nationalist to the Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan”. He has contested the popular Indian view that Jinnah was the villain of the 1947 partition. So, why all this hue and cry?

It is a pity the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demonized a man of Jaswant Singh’s stature in the same manner as Jinnah has been demonized. The way his book has been banned in Gujarat and the manner in which he has been ousted from the BJP are tragic.

India’s partition is a complex and complicated issue. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a nationalist to the core, too has faulted Jawaharlal Nehru as well as Sardar Vallabhai Patel for the 1947 tragedy that caused so much agony and suffering.

Azad accused Nehru of being lured into partition by Lady Edwina Mountbatten, with whom he (Nehru) was friendly. Azad also felt that Patel was the one mainly responsible for the break-up of India. Page 201 of the 1988 edition of his “India Wins Freedom” states: “I was surprised that Patel was now an even greater supporter of the two-nation theory than Jinnah. Jinnah may have raised the flag of partition but now the real flag bearer was Patel.” That proves Jaswant Singh’s point.

Jaswant Singh isn’t wrong when he states that Jinnah was a nationalist leader. The fact is that before the bad blood erupted first in 1929 on the issue of “Separate Electorate”, Jinnah was far ahead of all nationalists. “He fought the British for an independent India but also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of Muslims of India… The acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim unity,” Jaswant Singh has rightly written.

The seeds of discord for the partition were sown in the mismanagement of the Cabinet Mission Plan. According to scholar B. Sheikh Ali’s book “Maulana Azad: Vision and Action”, Hindus and Muslims were to get their due under a federal system and both communities were satisfied about that.

It was all harmonious till Azad sensed that Patel had instigated Nehru to not only make changes in the Cabinet Mission Plan but to shelve it. Azad ran to Gandhi March 31, 1947, to report that the danger of partition was lurking and that he must intervene. Gandhi said that partition would take place only over his corpse. Azad got pacified.

But partition did take place — amid bloodshed. After that, Azad became a living dead body. Aruna Asaf Ali, a veteran of the Indian independence movement, related to me how inconsolable Azad was on the midnight of Aug 14-15, 1947, when Pakistan was carved out of India.

It’s time the reality of partition dawns and the blot is washed away from the Indian Muslim community, which has been traditionally held responsible for the 1947 saga.

(26.08.2009-The author is a commentator on social, educational and religious issues and a grandnephew of Maulana Azad. He can be reached at firozbakhtahmed07@gmail.com)

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