08/20/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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One of the BJP leaders has been expelled: he praised Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan

by CT Nilesh
Jaswant Singh, has written a book on Jinnah, calling him a “great man”, but the direction of the party expelled him. The battle for power goes on within the BJP, who lost the faith of the Christian and Muslim minorities.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) had lost the general election in May and one of the reasons, people think, was its divisive policy against the religious minorities, particularly Muslims in Gujarat and Christians in Orissa.

If they had been in power in the central government in New Delhi for five years, the merit goes to its leader, Vajpayee, who was e moderate who never hurt the sentiments of the minorities. After him, LK Advani became the leader who could never win the confidence of the religious minorities since he conducted a campaign to build a national temple to the god Rama on the site,  in Ayodya, of an old mosque that was destroyed in his presence on the 6th  December 1992, by a crowd of militant Hindus.

The leaders of BJP must have understood that alienating the Muslims was the cause of their electoral defeat.  One step to re-conquer the trust of the Muslim community could have been the publication of the book written by Jaswant Singh on the founder of Pakistan, “Ali Jinnah: India-Partition Independence”.

He wrote: “I admire certain aspects of his personality…I think we have misunderstood him because we needed to create a demon…we needed a demon because in the 20th century, the most telling event in the subcontinent was the partition of the country.”

In the immediate aftermath of the defeat in the election many commentators suggested that the BJP should change its stand on the ideology of Hindutva and dissociate the party from the Sangh Parivar (association of militant Hindus). But the leaders in office stated that it is not possible to abandon the  Hindutva. The reaction to the publication of the book of Jaswant Singh and his expulsion may be the beginning of a struggle for power between the BJP leaders.

Officially, the office bearers of the party boycotted the function of presentation of the book and when they met in Simla Wednesday the expulsion of Jaswant Singh was decided. There had been a precedent to this approach when LK Advani, one year ago, in a visit to Pakistan, where he was born, in a public speech he stated that Jinnah was a secular man. At that time also the reaction of the BJP cadres was immediate and violent. And the popularity of Advani fell low.

Jaswant Singh instead, while calling Jinnah “a great man” put the blame of partition on the leaders of Congress of that time. In an interview on the eve of the launch of his book, Singh took a divergent stand from the Sangh Parivar as well as from popular Indian historiography, by blaming the creation of Pakistan on the Congress and Jawaharlal Nehru rather than Jinnah’s determination to carve a Muslim state out of India.

The Congress questioned Singh’s nationalism. The party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said: ”Singh has shown his patriotism by denigrating India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, while eulogizing Jinnah”.

According to Singh “Nehru believed in a high centralized policy. That is what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal policy. That even Gandhi accepted. Nehru didn’t. Consistently he stood in the way of a federal India until 1947 when it became a partitioned India.”

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