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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2706

India: Jaswant expelled from BJP for ‘eulogizing’ Jinnah and ‘denigrating’ Patel

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

JinnahNew Delhi, 20 August, ( India’s main opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday axed one of its senior leaders, Jaswant Singh, who is also a close aide of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for writing the biography of Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, ‘Jinnah – India-Partition-Independence’ and then going to the town that he had been inspired by the ‘self-made’ leader of Muslim League.

Four years back, in June 2005, L K Advani, the chief architect of BJP was forced to resign as party chief for his hailing Jinnah as a secular leader during a weeklong trip to Pakistan. Like Jaswant now, Advani then noted that Jinnah, in his speech to the Constituent Assembly of undivided India on Aug. 11, 1947, had favored a secular, non-theocratic state and was of the view there should be no difference between Hindu and Muslims, as all were its citizens.

That Jaswant would be penalized was clear immediately after he released his controversial biography two –days back. The expectation was he would be given an opportunity to explain his case. But the BJP leadership dispensed with the formality of show cause notice a show cause notice.

The 71-year old leader was expelled from the primary membership of the party he served for 30-years in different capacities as a spokesman, minister for finance, defence and external affairs and skillful negotiator in striking alliances with other opposition parties.

Jaswant Critique Of Patel Irks Advani

It is not clear whether Advani himself was a party to the decision to expel Jaswant Singh. The decision was announced by BJP President, Rajnath Singh in Shimla where the party seniors are holding an introspection session on the recent poll debacle. He said ‘I placed the issue before the Parliamentary Board and after a thorough discussion, it decided to expel him’.

Advani was present at the meeting which took place on Tuesday evening in Shimla itself. What he said or did not say is not known. Jaswant is an Advani acolyte in a manner of speaking.

It is possible that Advani also was irked by Jaswant’s critique of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who is credited with integrating all princely states with Indian Union after independence in 1947. Bharatiya Janata Party and the larger Hindutva Parivar hold the view that had Patel instead of Nehru became the first prime minister, India could have been a different place.

Jaswant Singh, who had resigned from the Army where he was a Major in 1967 to join Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of BJP, may not be unaware of the party view of Patel. And also how the party has been projecting Advani as the iron man of India in Patel mould.

Expulsion – Self Inflicted

Yet, his book concluded that both Nehru and Patel were responsible for partition, more than Jinnah in some respects. 'I think we have misunderstood him (Jinnah) 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,' he wrote in the book.

Another Jaswant conclusion that angered the BJP and Sangh Parivar is that Muslims are made to feel aliens in India after partition. This line goes contrary to the BJP contention that the successive governments in Delhi had been indulging in minority appeasement under the garb of secularism.

So, in a manner of speaking, expulsion is a self-inflicted wound for the former army Major.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said Jaswant has been stripped of all party posts.

'He is now not a member of any forum of the party’. On Tuesday itself Rajnath Singh dissociated the BJP from the Jaswant Singh's views on Jinnah. ‘Yesterday, I issued a statement about the BJP dissociating itself from Jaswant Singh's views. The party discussed the matter and it was decided to expel him’.

Painful and Shocking

Jaswant Singh termed his expulsion from BJP as saddening and regrettable. He will not appeal against the decision or seek any review ‘though I feel the party did not follow procedures’.

He said he never could have imagined in his wildest dreams that he would be expelled from the BJP just for ‘writing a book’. The book is a personal viewpoint, and has nothing to do with the policies or stand of the BJP.

Jaswant, however, made it clear that he did not regret writing the book on Jinnah. ‘I stand by I have written on the painful period of history’

He disclosed that he had sent an advance copy of his book to Advani. ‘Therefore this made his removal from the party after 30 years of association even more painful and shocking’.

'I am sad and regretful. There are many reasons. I will not go into details for everything but will say that it would have been better if I had been given the news in person instead of over the phone,' Jaswant told reporters. He got a call at 1 p.m. from Rajnath Singh.

'I have been a member of the BJP since it was formed (in 1980). I am worried and sad that just one book has led to my expulsion. I wonder what would happen if 'soch, vichar and chintan' (thinking and introspection) stopped in Indian politics’.

‘Would you blame Advani or Rajnath Singh for your expulsion?’

His cryptic reply was: ‘Good luck to both of them’.

-Asian Tribune -

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