The expelling of Jaswanth Singh from the Bharatiya Janatha Party has, again, triggered two major debates, one on freedom of speech and expression and the other on Jinnah and his role in the Indo-Pak partition.
The debate on freedom of expression and thought can be answered with what Mr. Singh said soon after he was informed about him being expelled from the party: If you start questioning thought you are entering a very dark area.
The debate on the role played by Jinnah in Indo-Pak partition is being discussed in all major media. INDIA TODAY has come up with a cover page asking “Who Partitioned India? Jinnah or Nehru?” As Shoaib and i took a copy of IT and Tehelka and walked towards Punjabi Rasoi to have dinner, i told Shoaib that the question is to be “What partitioned India?” and not “Who partitioned India?,” and the next day i see Ayesha Jalaal (author of THE SOLE SPOKESMAN: JINNAH, THE MUSLIM LEAGUE AND THE DEMAND FOR PAKISTAN) saying in an article: If there has been a bit too much focus on the history Jinnah made, there is still much to be said about the history that made Jinnah, which was exactly what i wanted to tell Shoaib.
Dr. B.R. Ambdekar concluded his 1940 essay ‘Pakistan or The Partition of India,’ saying: The transfer of minorities is the only lasting remedy for communal peace,- a reason for which Dr. Ambedkar gave a call for the creation of DALITSTAN. Its a similar situation with Jinnah too, though what he demanded for an equal share of power for Inida’s Muslims, not a partition. He was not anti-Hindu as it is believed by majority of Indians. He was opposed only to a version of Congress majoritarianism that showed scant respect for difference,as Ayesha Jalaal points out. And Jinnah many a times made it clear that his battle was against Congress Raj and not the Hindu community.
In his Jinnah Biography Mr. Singh quotes American academician Lloyd Rudolph as telling him: “A multinational state… shares sovereignty among a variety of actors. India’s federal system, particularly its linguistic states, is a manifestation of a multinational state that shares and bargains about sovereignty. Similarly, reservations for SCs, STs and even for OBCs, as well as the 73rd amendment’s creation of third tier of local government are all manifestations of sharing and bargaining about sovereignty in a multinational state. These developments are consistent with the kind of bargaining strategy that Jinnah adopted.” But his bargaining resulted in partition of India and Pakistan which he referred to as “Cyclonic revolution.” And as Sunil Khilnani (author of THE IDEA OF INDIA) points out: Crucially, in the run-up to Partition, Nehru was unable to fully grasp the irreducible fear that many Muslims felt, and that Jinnah voiced- fear at the prospect of having to live as a minority within the democratic regime where political power was based on numerical strength.
History makes it clear that Jinnah’s agenda was totally different but the result of his politics was different, which was partition, one of the most unfortunate events of 20th century. But what made Jinnah bargain for the rights for India’s Muslims, like Dr. Ambedkar demanded for the Dalits, which resulted finally, though against his will and desire, in partition of India? The history that created Jinnah, as Ayesha Jalaal said, is as important or rather more important than the history that Jinnah made, because the earlier made way for the latter. So in that sense Jinnah is just a tool in the hand of history. There is something in history which made him what he is and made him bargain for something and finally accept the partition of India and formation of Pakistan.
In her book THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE, Urvashi Butalia interviews an individual in India who gives a very interesting “cause” for Indo-Pak partition. He doesn’t speak of Jinnah, Nehru, Patel or Gandhi. He starts the interview saying that partition had to take place and Pakistan had to be formed. He says, if “we” would be walking on the street with a domestic animal in one hand and food in another hand, without any hesitation “we” would eat. But if “we” shook our hands with a Muslim while having food in another hand, “we” would not eat that food. He adds to it saying, in “our” houses we had separate utensils for Muslims, which would not be kept with other utensils. “If they (Muslims) came home we would ask them to bring the cup kept in a corner and pour tea from a height and ask them to also clean that cup after they are done with the tea and keep that cup in the other stand specified for their cups,” he says and concludes saying, “If we were to have tea from the same cup, possibly partition would have never taken place.”
Its this “cup of tea” which made Jinnah bargain for the rights of Muslims, as i see, and finally accept partition of India and formation of Pakistan. So, the question to be asked by the people who cannot tolerate Jinnah and any humane picturization of him (and also could not tolerate Gandhi and hence killed him) need to introspect and ask WHAT caused partition?
25 August 2009