Was Jinnah wrong?

By Hameed Abdul Karim

Up until now one could blame Muhammed Ali Jinnah for the breakup of India. Blaming a Hindu was taboo as Jaswant Singh has come to realise much to his grief.

Singh has committed the ultimate crime. Up until now no Indian scholar or politician had spoken in public about the roles Hindus played in the partitioning of India, though they may probably have conceded that aspect of history in private discussions. The popular policy was to heap the blame on Muslims.

But Jaswant Singh seems to have changed it all. In his book he has claimed that Mohammed Ali Jinnah was not responsible for the breakup of India and that the person was Sardar Vallabhai Patel. But anyone watching Indian TV will not fail to notice that Singh has not been able to effect any change in the Indian mindset. The usual mantra is still very much in its place. Indians start their discussions by first slamming Pakistan's founder as a communalist or the 'villain of the partition'. No kind words for him.

And yet it was Jinnah who had insisted on a united India with Hindus and Muslims 'sharing the governance of their common motherland'. What he was not in favour of was a system that would replace the British Raj with the Congress Raj.

As tensions between Hindus and Muslims intensified he became more convinced that the only way out was partition. He feared the Centre would be of Hindu Raj and that Muslims would be marginalised by Hindu feudal lords.

Recent events like the destruction of the Barbri Masjid and the anti-Muslim riots that followed along with Gujarat riots give credence to his fears. More so now that the role of Chief Minister Narendra Modi has come out in the open with startling revelations that the then Bharatiya Janata Party Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted to sack Modi for his role in the riots. But he couldn't do any such thing because his deputy Advani opposed it. This is the type of 'democracy' Jinnah had feared - a democracy where the majority oppresses the minority because of their strength in numbers.

Jinnah's fears are also reflected in the vitriolic speech that Varun Gandhi made during the recent general elections in which he threatened to 'chase' Indian Muslims to Pakistan. Jinnah's worse fears find a solid confirmation in Varun Gandhi's election victory, backed as he was to the hilt by his party, the communal BJP, even after making such outlandish racist remarks.

Jinnah had pointed out that neither minority safeguards nor separate electorates could save the Muslims from the Hindu Raj. It seems he was right, especially when you take account of the riots against virtually all minorities living in India.

One might get carried away with the idea that Congress offers an alternative to the BJP's Hindutva but these two parties are two sides of the same coin. India's famous intellectual Arundathi Roy hit the nail on the head when she said 'The BJP does by day what the Congress does by night'.

In the context of Jaswant Sing's disclosures and recent history, can anyone say Jinnah was wrong when he opted for Pakistan or that he was the villain of the partition ?

The writer is Vice President of Sri Lanka Palestinian Solidarity Movement .

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