Just what former defence and finance minister Jaswant Singh is seeking to achieve with his book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence is a bit unclear.
Is he cocking a snook at the saffron brotherhood which didn’t look kindly at L.K. Advani‘s previous attempt to give Jinnah a good name? Is he trying to demonise Jawaharlal Nehru? Is he taking a shot at Vallabhbhai Patel? Is he tilting at the windmills of history?
Is he just trying to sell a few extra copies? Or is he just being fair?
Whatever be the motivation, Singh’s book has put the BJP, facing its biggest existential crisis, in a quandary.
BJP leaders stayed away from the book’s launch, its spokesman have had to explain that Singh’s stand does not reflect the party’s position, that the BJP’s position on Jinnah remains the same, and that Sardar Patel remains the great unifier.
Jaswant Singh spoke to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN‘s show Devil’s Advocate:
Karan Thapar: In your assessment as Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s biographer, for most if not the predominant part of his life, Jinnah was a nationalist…
Jaswant Singh: Oh, yes. He fought the British for an independent India but he also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India.
Thapar: Many people believe that Jinnah hated Hindus and that he was a Hindu basher.
Singh: Wrong. Totally wrong. That certainly he was not. His principal disagreement was with the Congress. Repeatedly he says and he says this even in his last statements to the Press and to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.
Thapar: So his problem was with Congress and with some Congress leaders but he had no problem with Hindus?
Singh: No, he had no problems whatsoever with the Hindus. Because he was not in that sense, until in the later part of his years, he became exactly what he charged Mahatma Gandhi with. He had charged Mahatma Gandhi of being a demagogue.
Read the full text: ‘Congress majoritarianism left no room for Jinnah’
Read the Time magazine story of 1946: Long shadow
Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ Indian Express