Tuesday, August 25, 2009


R.K. Ohri, IPS (Retd)
Wages of Poor Scholarship

For a second time during the last four years Jinnah virus has struck the Bharatiya Janta Party. Greatly impressed by the success of Mohammed Ali Jinnah in carving out the Islamic State of Pakistan by ensuring division of India, almost single-handedly, some BJP leaders are bending backwards in praising Jinnah as a great 'secular' leader. Overwhelmed by 'Jinnah virus' and trying to outdo his senior colleague, L K Advani, in his latest book Jaswant Singh (a prominent BJP leader and former Foreign Affairs Minister in NDA government), has showered encomiums on Jinnah, while criticizing the murky role of Nehru and Gandhi in accepting partition of the country as a fait accompli. While this belated claim to wisdom by Jaswant Singh about greatness of the founder of Pakistan further bewildred the average middle class Hindu, the BJP was left with no option but to expel Jaswant Singh from the party due to his deliberate deviation from the ideology of BJP. In June 2005 the then President of BJP, L.K. Advani, had praised Mohammed Ali Jinnah, as a secular leader during his visit to Pakistan, without verifying the facts. That controversial statement bestowing the halo of a "secular leader" on Jinnah was greatly resented by the Hindu masses. Ultimately it led to large scale criticism of Advani's wrong perception and he had to step down from the office of BJP President. Advani's misadventure about Jinnah's secular status was based on Pakistan's Qaid-e Azam's address to the Constituent Assembly on August11, 1947, in which he had declared that, "you are free to go to your mosques, or any other place of worship .. you may belong to any religion, caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the state. You will find that in the course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense ... but in the political sense as citizens of the State". Apparently that statement was enough to make Advani conclude that Jinnah was indeed a secular democrat. The veteran leader did not care to check up the reasons which could have prompted Jinnah to make that most-unlike-Jinnah statement in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947. Perhaps he relied too much on the advice and assessment of his aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni, yet another admirer of Jinnah, who had accompanied him. Advani just could not figure out that what Jinnah had pronounced on August 11, 1947, was nothing but mere posturing done on the advice of Lord Ismay who was the Chief of Staff of the then Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten. The inside story of Jinnah's August 11, 1947, statement has been narrated by a distinguished Punjabi scholar, Dr. Kripal Singh, on page 740 of his book, "Select Documents on Partition of India -1947" (India andPakistan), published in 1990. As revealed by Dr. Kripal Singh, the advice to make such a statement was given by Lord Ismay to Jinnah, under specific instructions of Lord Mountbatten in order to douse the raging fire of communal violence across Pakistan at that time. It was a belated attempt to assure the Hindus and the Sikhs living in Pakistan about their safety, expressly made on the suggestion of Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India. The sole aim of the August 11, 1947, statement was to check the spiralling communal violence in Pakistan which had already generated a violent reaction in East Punjab (India).

The fact that Jinnah had been prevailed upon to make such a statement was told to Dr. Kripal Singh by Lord Ismay himself. His aforesaid book contains interviews with Lord Attlee, the Prime Minister of U.K. in 1947, Sir Francis Mudie, the then Governor of Punjab and Sir Cyril Radcliffe, Chairman of the Boundary Commission who drew the final lines of the partitioned sub-continent. In an exclusive interview to TNS (Tribune News Service) Dr. Kripal Singh had disclosed that he had interviewed Lord Ismay on August 17, 1964, at his residence in U.K. Dr. Kripal Singh is a former Head of the Department of Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, and an euridite scholar and author of several books. Every Indian, except perhaps Jaswant Singh, knows that Jinnah had repeatedly said that the Hindus and the Muslims cannot live together in India and had pompously declared in August 1946, "We shall have India divided or we shall have India destroyed". He was a fundamentalist who was squarely responsible for organizing the great Calcutta killings on August 16, 1947, by giving a call for Direct Action to achieve the goal of Pakistan. Apparently the fast ageing BJP leaders like JaswantSingh and Advani have forgotten that on July 27, 1946, while giving a call to Muslims for observing August 16, 1946, as Direct Action Day for achieving the goal of Pakistan, Jinnah spoke thus :"The Muslims of India would not rest contented with anything less than the immediate establishment of independent and fully sovereign State of Pakistan. ... Now the time has come for the Muslim Nation to resort to Direct Action. ....We have taken a most historic decision. Never before in the whole history of the Muslim League did we do anything except by constitutional methods.Today we have said good-bye to constitutional methods. Throughout the painful negotiations the two parties with whom we bargain held a pistolat us - one with power and machine-guns behind it and the other with non-cooperation and the threat to launch mass civil disobedience. The situation must be met. We also have a pistol".

That open declaration to defy the law had prompted Muslim League's Mayor of Calcutta, Mohammed Usman, to give a call for jihad on August16, 1946, by issuing an inflammatory leaflet titled "Munajat for Jihad". On the Direct Action Day the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata)went through a grisly bloodbath which continued for several days a brief account of which has been given by Justice G.D. Khosla in his famous narrative, 'The Stern Reckoning'. The total number of innocent citizens killed during the jihad unleashed by Muslim League on the Direct Action Day was estimated to be between 5,000 and 10,000. Subseqeuntly communal riots broke out in many parts of the country.

Thus Jinnah was never never 'secular' in his outlook, much less in deed. Both, Advani and Jaswant Singh, appear to be suffering from age-related amnesia. How else could they forget that barely 10 weeks after Jinnah's statement of August 11, 1946, Pakistan had invaded Jammu & Kashmir and let loose a horrendous campaign of murder, rape and pillage against unsuspecting hapless people? At that time Jinnah was very much alive (he died only in September 1948) and no one can deny that the Kashmir invasion was launched with his approval as Governor General of Pakistan. Apparently the two BJP leaders never ever cared to ascertain the truth behind Jinnah's deceptive statement made in Pakistan's Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947. What made Jinnah issue the so-called "secular statement" on August 11, 1947, has been clarified by Dr. Kripal Singh, as stated above. In essence that statement of Jinnah was nothing but recourse to 'Taqiyah', a convenient Islamic tool for befooling the so-called 'kaffirs'. Going far beyond what Advani had stated in June 2005, in a TV interview Jaswant Singh claimed that the widespread opinion in India that Jinnah was anti-Hindu was mistaken, and that he was unfairly demonized. The tall leader failed to explain why Jinnah did not try to prevent the massive ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Pakistan, why did he not raise even a small finger to save the lives and properties of lakhs of Hindus trapped in Pakistan? Giving further twist to his love for Jinnah, during a TV interview by Karan Thapar, Jaswant Singh bemoaned, "Look into the eyes of the Muslims who live in India and if you truly see their pain with which they live, to which land do they belong? We treat them as aliens ... without doubt Muslims have paid the price of partition". It is difficult, nay impossible, to comprehend why Jaswant Singh does not realize that the real price of partition was paid by crores of Hindus and Sikhs who were killed, converted or driven out from Pakistan and Bangladesh (formerly known as East Pakistan). How can he be so insensitive to the ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan, Bangladesh and even from Kashmir, an important part of our bogus secular political dispensation? Surely he cannot be oblivious of the fact that Hindu population in Pakistan has come down from 23% in 1947 to less than 2%now, and in Bangladesh it has dwindled from 27% in 1947 to a meagre 8%. And in Kashmir valley there are hardly any Hindus left now, except government servants ! Yet Jaswant Singh's heart bleeds only for Muslims - nary a tear did he shed for millions of ethnically cleansed out Hindus and Sikhs amounting to veritable genocide. What hypocrisy, what poor scholarship?

It is extraordinary that Jaswant Singh does not know that in four globally recognized human development indices, namely, the Infant Mortality, Child Mortality, Degree of Urbanisation and Life Expectancy at Birth the Muslims of India are better placed than the Hindus, and that according to a survey conducted in 2005 by the Centre for Studies of Developing Countries, New Delhi, at the all India level the proportion of "very poor" people is higher among Hindus than among Muslims. The untruthful book of Jaswant Singh and his interviews to the media are indeed classic examples of poor scholarship. No wonder, Jaswant Singh has been expelled from the BJP. The lesson is that book writing isa serious academic pursuit. It should not be taken as a casual exercise, even by the tallest politicians."

Editor's Comment: The politicians' psychology is as interesting as the political events are.

The above quoted is a very well written account by R K Ohri. Most importantly Ohri's masterful emphasis, in not losing the sight of the forest while getting lost in the trees and to always interpret the historical facts by understanding the larger context, is well taken.

In the current psycho-politics of India the defeat of BJP in the elections may be leading to unconscious identification with the aggressor, namely the Congress. BJP should have its own way of reconciling with the Muslims and not imitate the Congress. In desperation the two great leaders of BJP are trying to show how kind and broad minded they are as regards their assessment of Jinnah and also their empathy for the Muslims. This is the stance of the hapless debilitated BJP to "become" (like a teenager imitating his heroes) a "Cogress Party with a Safron Tinge."

There is no need to be anti-muslim to be focused on Hindutva, nor is there a need to placate and appease the Muslims to be recognized as being secular in one's attitude. BJP or Congress leaders can empathise with all who are suffering and all who have suffered, thus establishing sincere rapport with them. No human suffering needs to be seen as less important.

The whole saga of BJP is a confusion of identity seen in an adolescent. It is sad that Jaswant Singh and Varun Gandhi are exhibiting the same adolescent zeal but are opposite polarities. There must be a more balanced, homogeneous, and self-assured way to remain loyal to the agenda of Hindutva. Simply idolizing and/or demonizing past heroes is indicative of not finding appropriate living ego-ideals. Such vacuum with non-availability of stalwarts like Atal Bihariji breeds self-made leaders without mentors who are vying for power and indeed as is evident there is no democracy within BJP. Weakening or breakdown of the "high command" will necessitate implementing democracy within BJP and careful selection of tall leaders to be appointed, respected, and consulted for guidance. The tragedy for both BJP and Congress is that there are no true wise seasoned elders that are respected by the majority within the party. BJP is further handicapped by leanness in the number of politically savvy, charismatic, bright and popular, articulate, young leaders. The leaders infected by Jinnah Virus are not going to win the Muslim sympathies or their following, if BJP wants to outdo Cogress in the vote-bank politics. This is all interesting, but BJP also seems to be running short on strategies to succeed in the next elections already. Jaswant Singh saga is a symptom of this ailment described above.

Banning Jaswant Singh's book in Gujrat also will further complicate the perception of Modi ji as anti-Muslim and may have far reaching consequences for BJP. Splitting leaders or parent figures as all good and all bad (good cop- bad cop, for example) is a reflection of deep-seated conflicts in any party. This may augur the undoing of BJP and let us not hear that Jaswant Singh has converted to Islam and joined the Muslim League!! One should not be surprized at all, if he is promptly befriended by the politically savvy Muslims. -Shree Vinekar

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