Obsessed with Mr. Jinnah by MOHD. ZEYAUL HAQUE (JULY 16, 2007)

The Sangh is deeply obsessed with Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, revered as Qaed-e-Azam. The Sangh thinks this man was a villain who divided India, and refuses to consider its own role as a divisive force that prepared the background for separatist politics.

The Sangh has persuaded itself to believe that Mr. Jinnah was a great communalist (someone like them) contrary to the assertions of persons like Sarojni Naidu, who described the lanky, fashionably attired barrister as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. It also ignores the fact that Mr. Jinnah was a staunch believer in freedom of belief.

Not withstanding the Sangh’s beliefs, the fact remained that Mr. Jinnah did not have any quarrel with anybody’s religion as was evident from his inaugural speech in Pakistan’s National Assembly on the occasion of the birth of that new nation. He said that in Pakistan, nobody would be a Muslim, nobody a Hindu, except in matters of personal belief. Everybody would be a Pakistani, irrespective of his or her religious affiliations. That was a categorical statement on how he looked upon the future of the new state and what role religion would play in it. If that was not a secular stance then nobody knows what else it was.

But old habits of thought die hard. When Mr. LK Advani went on a visit to Pakistan after more than five decades of the creation of that country, he went to pay the customary visit to the Qaed-e-Azam’s mazar. Then it occurred to him this man was secular in his political beliefs and stance. To his great misfortune he made the public announcement that Mr. Jinnah was a secular man. The rest, as they say, is history.

However, that history bears retelling. The Sangh knives were out for him even before he landed on the Indian soil. Soon he was asked to retract his Jinnah statement, which he refused to do. In that case he was unceremoniously divested of his position as BJP president and left to live in limbo.

However, the party’s Jinnah obsession has resurfaced again in an article by none other than the Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi. In the state BJP journal Modi has lauded Mr. Jinnah as a secular person and tried to substantiate his claim. Modi has written that Jinnah loved Tilak and Gokhle and his closest friend was a Hindu. There are quite a few other laudatory remarks, the major onus of Partition shifting to the Nehru-Gandhi duo. The Sangh is silent leaving the rest of us to make our own guesses about its next move.

Mohd. Zeyaul Haque


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