Jaswant Singh asked for his expulsion from the BJP. And he got it. There was nothing else that the party could have done after Singh heaped praise on Mohammed Ali Jinnah. And more so because Singh’s reason to praise Jinnah happened to be that he created Pakistan. Jaswant Singh could have earned a ``promotion’’ in the BJP if he had praised Jinnah for having defied Islam. The fact is that Mohammed Ali Jinnah lived a life that was un-Islamic. He loved his drink and relished Western cuisines and several things in his life were un-Islamic.
The BJP would have loved anyone pointing to these aspects about Jinnah. And Jaswant Singh, in the event he had done that, would have found himself come under attack from the Islamic clergy. It is a fact that the man who steered the movement to create Pakistan, an Islamic nation, happened to be a non-practising Muslim. But then, it is also a fact that Pervez Musharaf too does not fall in the category of an Islamic fundamentalist. And one can think of a large number of prominent people in Pakistan who are not fundamentalists.
Well. Even Jaswant Singh does not belong to the clan of such people in the BJP who desist from drinking, eat only vegetarian dishes and believe in the Brahmanical Hindu way of life. Jaswant Singh, we may recall, declared his drinking habit on the floor of the Lok Sabha as recently as some weeks ago when he criticized Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for being miserly with the Income Tax exemption limits. The BJP leader, as he then was, said that the relief in this budget will not even fetch him a bottle of scotch whisky. Pranab Mukherjee then asked Jaswant to kick the bottle like he himself had quit smoking! Well. I think I know why Jaswant Singh likes Mohammed Ali Jinnah so much! Be that as it may.
There is a larger issue here. And that is about the business of writing history and the necessary skills that the historian then must possess and the rigour that will have to gone through while attempting to write something called history. And that is wanting in Jaswant’s comments about Jinnah in his book: From what I have come across in the media, Jaswant Singh’s point is that Jinnah created Pakistan from out of nothing. This is simply a travesty of facts. Pakistan and its making did not happen out of nothing as Jaswant Singh would like to believe and it is sad that no one seems to have pointed this out.
The idea of Pakistan, in fact, existed long before Jinnah spoke about it in 1940. It existed even before the colonial rulers sanctioned it. It existed long before Jinnah called for Direct Action in August1946. And it existed long before the Indian National Congress agreed for partition in its Delhi session. The idea of Pakistan existed long before Jawaharlal Nehru emerged as the natural choice as Prime Minister of independent India and even before Sardar Vallabhai Patel began putting the geographical entity called India together. All these have been discussed, debated and somewhat settled among historians of significance.
It is also a fact that the Hindu Mahasabha, from where a number of the Jan Sangh leaders, including its founder Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, emerged had in a way provided the basis for Jinnah to justify or gather support for his idea of Pakistan. It is also a fact, established by historians of repute, that the attitude of the leaders of the Indian National Congress, particularly in the United Provinces (present day Uttar Pradesh), towards the members and leaders of the Muslim community during the elections to the Provincial Assembly in 1935, ended up creating the basis for Jinnah to talk about a separate nation.
Jinnah, in fact, was among those who vehemently opposed the idea of two nations when it was discussed in the Muslim League conference as late as in 1937. And in 1940, he raised the demand. There is a lot more on this that has been discussed, debated and even contested and all these have taken place among historians. It is certainly not correct to say that Jinnah created Pakistan from nothing. And Jaswant Singh cannot be taken seriously for saying such nonsense. It is another matter that the media played it up, his book received a certain hype that it could not have if the same thing was written by some unknown person.
The sad part is that there is a tendency, promoted by the 24 X 7 news channels to make a mound out of a mould (or create a controversy out of nothing to borrow an expression from Jaswant Singh) and make a book, that must have been dismissed as pulp, into one of significance.