Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh’s book on Mohammad Ali Jinnah has provoked angry reactions in the BJP, forcing the party leadership to dissociate itself from his work, which seeks to portray Indian leaders and not the founder of Pakistan as “villains” of India’s partition in 1947.
BJP president Rajnath Singh said in a statement that Jaswant’s book ‘Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence’ did not represent the views of the BJP and that “the party completely dissociates itself from the contents of the book”.
“The important role of M A Jinnah in the division of India, which led to a lot of dislocation and destabilisation of millions of people, is too well-known. We cannot wish away this painful part of our history,” Singh said referring to Jinnah’s role as recorded in Jaswant’s just released book.
The BJP leaders are apparently most hurt by Jaswant’s bracketing Jinnah with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister, who is revered by the BJP and Hindutva elements for his role in unification of Indian states in the post-partition phase.
On this, Rajnath Singh said: “Sardar Patel played a historic role in the unification and consolidation of India amidst serious threats to its unity and integrity. The entire country remains indebted and proud of the profound vision, courage and leadership of Sardar Patel.”
Party sources said Rajnath’s statement was meant to steer the BJP out of yet another controversy, at a time when its leaders are heading for a “chintan baithak” (brainstorming session) in Shimla to discuss the future of the party after its recent electoral defeat.
“Also, it was meant to send a signal across to party activists, who were demanding action,” a senior BJP leader said.
Another party leader told Business Standard that since Jaswant Singh was not holding any position in the party, action against him was not being contemplated. Earlier in 2005, L K Advani, had to tender his resignation for his alleged remarks on Jinnah, while on a visit to Karachi. “He was the president of the party so what he said had direct implication for the party,” the party leader said.
Jaswant Singh is one of the 25 invitees to the chintan baithak. Besides party chief Rajnath Singh, Advani general secretaries of the party, members of the parliamentary board and chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states are participating in the 'baithak’, which will be held in camera.