Of late, the BJP heavy weights have been flirting with the idea of Jinnah - Advani, a couple of years back and Jaswant Singh now.
Curious, when you consider that the man who systematically whipped up anti Muslim sentiments in India through the famous ( or infamous) Rath Yathra, and Singh, a senior minister and stalwart of the BJP Govt, should attempt to recast history (official Indian version) by foregrounding the ‘secular’ credentials of the architect of Pakistan.
The obvious strategy of these senior BJP leaders appears to be the adoption of the policy of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. And by befriending him (enemy’s enemy), his friends will become my friends.
Thus, the glorification/secularization of Jinnah is a double kill: the Nehru dynasty (read Congress party of India) is demonized and the Muslim voter in India, it is hoped, will be gratified.
Advani was let off lightly with a rap on the knuckles. Perhaps Jaswant Singh thought he too could get away lightly. But it was not to be. His punishment did not stop with the rap. He was rusticated.
Why was he thrown out so unceremoniously?
The obvious answer is the arm twisting of the party leaders by the RSS.
All this is just stating the obvious and, I fear, I am oversimplifying some complex undercurrents. I am sure there is more to it than meets the eye but I don’t have the insight of a political pundit.
But an issue which baffles me is how, across the parties, people are going hammer and tongs after Jaswant Singh. Some Kerala politician was telling the media that Jaswant Singh should be tried for sedition!!?? For tainting the hallowed names of Gandhiji, Nehru, and casting aspersions on the Freedom Movement.
And Narendra Modi has banned the book in Gujarat!
Oh, come on now. India is a democratic state.
And nobody has proprietorship over history. History is what historians write, and historians write how they have understood the past. They see the past sometimes as they wish to see it, or sometimes as they are conditioned to see it. Pakistan and India do not have the same views on the Freedom movement and the Partition. So where does the truth lie?
History is not sacrosanct. Balzac, I think, it was who said that history is a pack of official lies.
So why al this banning and sedition charges in a democracy, all in the name of an academic pursuit?
Truth is like a multifaceted diamond, said Gandhi. The search for it will never end.
Whether the secular Jinnah is Jaswant Singh’s discovery of truth or his strategy with a hidden agenda, he can spend the rest of his life comfortably, harvesting the yield from a book which is bound to go into several reprints both in India and Pakistan.
He’ll survive without the BJP.