Why the BJP is right in expelling Jaswant Singh

by Ritwik on August 23, 2009

Jaswant Singh's Controversial Book

Jaswant Singh’s Controversial Book

Over the last week, there has been much brouhaha over Jaswant Singh’s new book titled Jinnah: India Partition Independence

The former BJP leader has tried to argue that Jinnah was a secular man who was “pushed” towards communal politics due to the inflexible attitude of senior Congress leaders.

This basic contention fits in well with the old RSS/BJP approach of using any stick to beat Nehru and other Congress leaders, and hold them responsible for all of India’s ills.  Jaswant Singh advocates that Jinnah’s recommendations to the Motilal Nehru Committee (demanding special concessions to Muslims) should have been accepted back in 1929. Singh contends that had this been done, Jinnah would have never orbited towards communal politics.

It is amusing to see a senior (now former) leader of a Hindu nationalist organization like the BJP advocating concessions to Muslims. One can well imagine what the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha response would have been (in the 1930s) had Jinnah’s recommendations been accepted by the Congress. For some reason, I can clearly hear “minority appeasement” echoing in my head.

I’ve always found it incredible how RSS/BJP sympathizers, who otherwise profess a deep hatred for Jinnah and his muslim communal politics, hold that if only Nehru had overcome his personal “greed” and allowed Jinnah to be prime minister, then partition would have never occurred.

These people set no store by the popular will of the people of India, who elected the Congress by record margins in all polls conducted till then. The Congress was the largest political organization in the country [by far], Gandhi was the tallest leader, and Nehru was both a tall leader and Gandhi’s handpicked nominee. None of these things seem to make any impact on the immune-to-logic grey cells of the Hindu nationalist crowd.

This is probably because inspite of public protestations to the contrary, I suspect that the RSS/BJP and their cohorts feel quite comfortable with Jinnah. Believing as they do in identity politics, they deem it natural for a muslim to speak for muslims, as a hindu must speak for hindus. It is incomprehensible for them to see Gandhi, Nehru and other hindus speaking for the minorities, and minority leaders like Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan speaking for an inclusive nationality.

Thus, what has done in Jaswant Singh is not his exoneration of Jinnah, or putting the blame on Nehru. The seasoned politician that he is, Jaswant Singh must have realized that holding Sardar Patel equally culpable for the partition of the country would seriously ruffle feathers in the “parivaar”. Over the years, the RSS and its fronts like the BJP have successfully wrested Patel’s legacy from a stupor-ridden Congress, which seems to have forgotten it ever had leaders other than the “first family”. Patel’s aggressive nationalism and “iron man” image fits in well with the RSS idea of India.

In this light, one can well imagine the fury of RSS leaders. Jaswant Singh was identified as a very senior BJP leader, and organizationally speaking, it was extremely irresponsible of him to “tarnish” Patel with the same brush as Nehru, when the RSS has for years been trying to appropriate the former and demonize the latter.

To put it simply: in the RSS fantasy world, Nehru was a Europeanized brat, who tricked Gandhi and wrested the PM-ship to satisfy his personal greed, which led to the partition of the country. Patel was a good samaritan who had to bow down to pressure from Gandhi, but who nonetheless did unparalleled work in unifying the country. Jaswant Singh effectively shows Nehru and Patel to be working together, as a team, and not at cross purposes as the RSS would want us to believe.

When the BJP says that Jaswant’s contentions are against its core ideological beliefs, this is what it is alluding to: a senior leader cannot undermine the years of ideological work done by committed RSS pracharaks, and consequently leave the parivaar in an indefensible position.

Politically speaking, if Jaswant Singh had not been expelled, then the self-styled “Chotte Sardar” Narendra Modi would have been taken to the cleaners by the Congress in Gujarat. Patel is a highly respected leader even outside his home state, and one can well imagine the BJP’s discomfort had it not taken prompt action by expelling Mr. Singh.

Thus, I find it incredible that the media [both print and broadcast] has been typifying the BJP’s action as intolerant. It is amazing that The Hindu faults the BJP for expelling Jaswant Singh, but didn’t bat an eyelid when Somnath Chatterjee was expelled for defying party orders. The latter didn’t even question his party’s core beliefs in marxism-leninism!

The BJP is right in expelling Jaswant Singh because a senior leader cannot publicly question his party’s view of history – that puts the entire ideology under a cloud of doubt.

I completely agree that Mr. Jaswant Singh should have freedom of expression, and thus I think it is reprehensible that his book has been banned in Gujarat [for I believe that no book should be banned], but as far as being member of a political party goes, he cannot continue being a member of a party unless he accepts its core ideological position.

To sum it up: it is right to expel jaswant singh, but wrong to silence him.



Agreed, BJP is a right wing hindu nationalistic party, and maybe Nehru was greedy for power. On what basis should Jinnah should have been given the PM post? Isn’t that to appease one community to keep the country united? When has merit of a person (not supporting anyone here) has taken a lower precedence to religion or caste? It is this mentality to adjust and appease one community that has led to the state of things in India. While the western countries are moving away from race and religion, it is this appeasement that is blocking India’s progress.

by Vinay on August 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm. #

@Vinay: Broadly speaking, I agree with you.

by Ritwik Agrawal on August 25, 2009 at 2:09 am. #

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