Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jinnah's Ghost

There is no dearth of fools. To be something in politics, you must kill your conscience. Actually, I am trying hard to come out with a powerful statement. This is about the latest move of BJP to expel Jaswant Singh. His offence: He praised Jinnah in his latest book and held Nehru responsible for British India’s partition. I haven’t read the book, so purist is advised to stop reading this article from this point.

Yesterday, I saw clippings of Congress’s workers tearing the book and then burning it in public view. It is appalling to see that coz I am sure that those Congressmen did not know that Jinnah was the top leader of Congress till early 1920s. So rather than cribbing about the whole affair, I thought let me throw some light on Jinnah. Here are few facts

a) Jinnah was born a Muslim. He never practiced Islam. He was a self-acclaimed atheist. He loved having pork.
b) He studied law in Britain and had utmost faith in legal system.
c) Unlike Nehru, he was not born with a silver spoon. His father was a rich merchant. But not rich enough to afford his son’s education in Britain. I think he went on a scholarship
d) When he returned, he chose Bombay and not Karachi, where he hailed from. Perhaps, Bombay’s cosmopolitan vibe did its trick.
e) Bombay’s multi-ethic culture of Hindus, Muslims and Parsis suited Jinnah who was too ready to shed his religious inhibitions.
f) He made friends with people across religions and faiths
g) He was an active member of Congress and aimed to become its President
h) His writings show his utmost faith in secular India. He understood divide and rule policy and enlightened Congressmen and Muslim League about its evils.
i) Muslim League tried to poach him. Smart he was, he did not join them but convinced them to hold their annual sessions in the same city and on the same date as Congress was doing. So that workers of two parties can meet and exchange their views.
j) Sarojini Naidu had sung poems praising Jinnah’s principle of secular India
k) It was when Gandhi joined Congress that things took an ugly turn.
l) Gandhi wanted freedom struggle to reach masses. Jinnah thought it would lead to anarchy, as masses were poor and desperate.
m) On their first meeting, Gandhi shook hands with Jinnah and said, “It is a pleasure meeting a modern mussalman like you”. Jinnah replied “I had almost forgotten that I am a musalmman”
n) Gandhi did not like Jinnah’s elitist life-style. Jinnah wanted freedom through constitutional ways.
o) All this while, Jawahar Lal Nehru was nowhere. His father, Motilal Nehru, rose to become Congress’s President in mid 1920s
p) The competition was actually between Gandhi and Jinnah and not between Jinnah and Jawarhalal Nehru.

The only blot in Jinnah’s life was his support for ‘Direct Action Day’ in 1946, which led to riots killing thousands of innocents on the streets of Calcutta. That made Congress bow to his demands of separate Pakistan. On the other hand, Jawaharlal Nehru did not provoke masses. This is the only blot in Jinnah’s career and the only instance, where Nehru scored over him.

Intellectually, Jinnah was the most successful lawyer of British India. He fought a case for Rolls-Royce. A company, which stood for British hegemony reposing faith in a native Indian lawyer, talks great deal of his intellect. Ironically, Advani was right when he accepted that Jinnah was secular. Advani, being shrewd, did not pass it as an opinion but he only quoted Jinnah from his famous speech in Pakistan in 1947. But who cares!!!