Jaswant Singh Expelled From The BJP For Jinnah Book

The more I think about it, the more Jaswant Singh looks, sounds and acts like Colin Powell of India.   Like Powell,   Singh is a liberal in a right wing party and like Powell,  Singh is a patriotic, military-man-turned-diplomat.  And like Powell,  Singh is now the target of the extreme right wing of his own party.  RSS and BJP’s disgraceful action shows the narrowmindedness of these two parties. YLH

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) — India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party expelled Jaswant Singh, former finance and foreign minister, party chief Rajnath Singh said today from the northern town of Shimla.

The move by the Hindu-nationalist party comes after Singh praised Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of neighboring Pakistan, in his recent book on the leader, “Jinnah — India, Partition, Independence.”

The book “does not represent the views of the Bharatiya Janata Party. In fact, the party completely dissociates itself from the contents of the book,” the BJP said on its Web site.

“The important role of M.A. Jinnah in the division of India, which led to a lot of dislocation and destabilization of millions of people, is too well-known. We cannot wish away this painful part of our history.”

Meanwhile Ayesha Jalal has come out in defence of Jaswant Singh:

BOSTON: Years before veteran politician Jaswant Singh, who was expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday, a well-known historian here


was championing Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s many admirable qualities, including his passion for a united India.

Ayesha Jalal, professor of history at Tufts University, has for long spoken about Jinnah’s failed quest to remain within a united India while guaranteeing the Muslim community equal rights.

Her book “The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and Demand for Pakistan” is widely regarded as the most definitive work on Jinnah and the circumstances that led to the creation of Pakistan.

“My understanding of Jinnah, and I have done substantial research on him, is that he never really abandoned the idea of a united India,” Jalal says in an upcoming documentary on Jinnah and the creation of Pakistan by US-based journalist Mayank Chhaya.

“A united India for him included a Pakistan. He invoked Pakistan based on the Muslim majority provinces of the northwest and northeast as a way of acquiring substantial amount of power at the all India centre,” Jalal says.

In tracing the history of developments that she says led to the movement for Pakistan as a separate state, Jalal focuses on the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 whose mandate was to discuss the transfer of power from the British rulers to Indians as well as discuss the framing of the constitution.

In a sense the Cabinet Mission Plan was about “layered or shared sovereignty”, Jalal argues. She was referring to a three-tiered arrangement proposed in the plan which included a federal union of India, the grouping of provinces as the middle tier (which Jinnah supported) and provinces as the third-tier.

“Throughout the discussion of the Cabinet Mission the Congress Party was not willing to have the centre reduced to three subjects — defence, foreign affairs and communication. They wanted a broader vision.

“When Jawaharlal Nehru made his famous statement that there is nobody who can stop the Constituent Assembly from enhancing the powers of the centre and we do not believe in grouping, it became untenable for Jinnah to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan. It was at that point that you begin to see a movement for a Pakistan as a sovereign state,” Jalal explains.

She says what the Cabinet Mission gave Jinnah was “an option of a Pakistan that is based on a partition of Punjab and Bengal or remaining within the all India union with no necessary assurance of Muslim share of power at the all India centre. He accepted that, he accepted something less than a sovereign Pakistan.”

What made Jinnah “revert back to the idea of a sovereign Pakistan”, according to Jalal, was the rejection of the grouping by the Congress Party and once “it became clear that the Congress had no intention of sharing power”.

In Jalal’s telling, Jinnah was still “hoping against hope that the British will make an award and give him an undivided Punjab and Bengal”.

Jalal’s point that it was Nehru and the Congress Party that was unwilling to share power with Muslims tallies with what Jaswant Singh has said in his interview with a TV channel. “Nehru believed in a highly centralised polity. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity,” Singh has been quoted as saying.



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21 responses to “Jaswant Singh Expelled From The BJP For Jinnah Book

  1. haq

    Makes sure that the book also sells in India….

    It also makes one think on how engrained democratic ideals are in third world countries. As a Pakistani I can always hide behind the excuse of democratic traditions never being allowed to continue in my country.

    But why this intolerence and lack of acceptance of diverse opinion in India? And that too in a political party which is part and parcel of their parlimentary traditions.

    Is it because, whether we like it or not, concepts of individual freedom and liberty are not part of our societies? Is it because we discovered democracy thanks to British colonisation and exposure to their political thought and never was truly a local response to society’s challenges.

  2. Hayyer 48

    No. it has to do with the national discourse and that of the BJP.
    The discourse is what allows speech, and permits particular modes of thought. Pakistan has its own national discourse. Contradicting the discourse is treason.

  3. Bloody Civilian

    and yet veer savarkar’s portrait adorns the parliament house

  4. haq


    that is exactly the point, only particular modes of thought are allowed and there is more pressure to subscribe to the bounds of a national discourse. This is after more than 60 years of democracy.

    I am not making these comments in the sense of India vs. Pakistan, please do not get me wrong.

    But let us face the facts, democracy in South Asia is a result of our ‘British’ experience. That we had a western educated elite before partition which articulated parlimentary democracy as a national ideal and pivot of national politics. It was not a local response to changing economic, political social changes. This is very different from how democracy came about in the UK or other Western European countries.

    There is nothing wrong with this, but it is important to realize this. Perhaps this explains why both India and Pakistan have become more regressive since Independence. Perhaps also shows that this ‘elite’ needs to play a more active role in articulating these ideals in a more efective and local context.

  5. Hayyer 48

    i dont know about Pakistan but in India we are gradually reverting to our native type and away from the hybrid ways of thought imbibed from the British.
    I was surprised that JS had had theguts to put out a book of this sort .It is probably because he knew his political career had peaked.
    I too did not intend an Indo Pak slant to my comment. Sorry if it appeared that way.
    Savarkar’s picture was put during the BJP govt. Congresscannot remove it without risking removal of its own icons in a future BJP alliance.

  6. Bloody Civilian


    my purpose was to point out the inherent contradiction in the discourse that JS is being accused of going against. why is savarkar’s TNT acceptable, even celebrated and honoured, but not MAJ’s?

  7. Bloody Civilian

    btw, there was also a savarkar stamp issued in 1970 (and another one in 1988??).

  8. BJPs harakiri continues 🙂 .
    The book is turning out to be far more interesting than I anticipated.

  9. Bloody Civilian

    (and another one in 1988??).

    no there wasn’t. just indira’s homage in may 1970, which of course her daughter-in-law had forgotten about in her protest to the president and her party’s boycott of parliament. btw, the minutes of the committee which approved the portrait in parliament show Shivraj Patil, Pranab Mukherjee and Somnath Chatterjee making no objections whatsoever.

  10. Hayyer 48

    I am the wrong person to seek an explanation from for the antics of the Congress or even a communist.
    If you imply the duplicitous nature of our political masters you have my support.
    And, my congratulations on being so wdell informed. I did not know about the stamp in 1970′

  11. ferozk

    The explusion of Jaswant Singh was regretable and despite the claims to the contary, the message of Jaswant Singh cannot be retracted. Jaswant Singh’s book should be lauded because it has broken an intellectual taboo in India and now, maybe, Partition and Jinnah can be discussed outside of the common Indian optics, which was always based on the villany of Jinnah’s role in the events leading to 1947.

    Understanding grows from disagreement and from this disagreement a better understanding of events surrounding Partition will emerge. Both India and Pakistan have to revisit 1947 without their personal historic biases if they really want to understand the past and in this Jaswant Singh’s book was the first step in the right direction.

  12. swapnavasavdutta

    Now we will wait for a book published in
    Pakistan which will explode the myth that
    it was AIML and Jinnah that causeed the
    partition of India and not INC.

  13. Bloody Civilian

    or even a communist.

    “in 1987, the West Bengal Government’s department of Information and Culture published a book praising Savarkar’s contribution to the freedom movement. The publication had an album with a foreword by the then Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu, extolling the contribution of freedom fighters including Savarkar and Madanlal Dhingra”

  14. Jaswant supporter

    Jaswant Singh’s voice is the biggest hope that that there are still people in India who can transcend their political ambitions and speak the truth. He also represents a certain affinity within the subcontintent notwithstanding its partition sixty years back. It is extremely difficult, even fatal for a popular leader to speak (even if he strongly believes so) against popular and indoctrinated beliefs. Jaswant has suffered his political career but kept alive the tradition of honest scholarship and visionary leadership. He is not the first in modern India to do so. Ghandi had to pay with his life when he went on fast till death supporting Pakistan’s share of assets which were being denied by India. The fantatic Bharti Janta Party did not do much different from the angry fanatic who shot Ghandi for his principled stand.

  15. S.Balakrishnan

    I long wondered about the real truth about partition and despite my young age loathed Jinnah for seeking partition. Later when I grew up and read more about Jawaharlal Nehru and his animosity to Jinnah and later to other Indian leaders who disagreed with him I started to wonder whether the partition was the result of Nehru’s vision of an all powerful Indian central government in which he will be the decider. Part of that vision was shared by Sardar Patel also. But I still do not know the full details about the details of last minute discussions and this book may shed some light. It is regrettable that BJP would throw away such an eminent person for his opinion on the partition. Jaswant Singh deserves praise for attemption to fill in the void of paucity of information on this. I am not at all surprised that Jinnah is not all that villain we in India believed and Nehru was no saint either. They both wanted power and in their desire sacrificed the needs of a great country working together in a federal structure. The funny thing is that despite all that has passed we may still find a subcontinent that ultimately will become a federal state with Pakistan, Bangla desh and India all becoming a part of this federation with a loose central government and more autonomy for provinces. But that day may be a little bit far off and we have to let the emotions cool down and realize that we are all from one nation that was torn apart for no reason other than the contradictory visions of two of our past leaders.

  16. The partition of India and the birth of Pakistan is due to historical factors in which many prominent individuals took part. This included Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel,
    Sri C.Rajacopalachari (Rajaji), Abdul Kalam Azad etc besides the muslim league leaders led by
    Mr. Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan, Abdul rub Nishtar, H.S. Shururavarsy etc .
    The discussion on partition of India started at least about 30 years prior to independence in 1947.
    It was after Mr. M.A.Jinnah became the president of the All India Muslim League in 1934 with some initial demands for sepaarate muslim electorates, aggressively restarted the demand for partition. The Lahore resolution for creation of Pakistan and the assembly elections in 1946 showed a massive muslim support of more than 90% for the Muslim League.
    By this time it was obvious the Muslim League would not relent in their demand for creation of Pakistan. They called for Direct Action day that culminated in loodshed starting from Bengal and spreading to muslim majority provinces and other parts of India.
    The Labour Government in U.K. was eager to quit India and want to leave India even if it resulted in many undecided states including the creation of Pakistan, India and native states to decide for themselves.
    Both the Congress party and the Muslim League saw this inevitable situation; besides the Muslim League understood it is to their great advantage such a situation had developed . They got Pakistan, a geographical area that is more than an area that they would have gotten on the basis of their percentage of population
    There were three strong political forces at play during this period.
    1. A strong coloniaal power weakened by war and forced to leave a colony ; in this their plan to leave it as unstable as possible for a future opportunity to dominate the area.
    2. A sectarian party that generated intense emotion among its constittuants on the basis of religion and their interpretation of religion and STATE. Because of their true faith in their religion and anything that is shown as connected to their religion ,they tend to support it. In this
    situation, it was a separate state on the basis of religion that appealed to them.
    3. A party that wanted independence to form a state that includes diversity and try to bring in every group on the basis of one nation and togetherness – a modern society.

    The first two forces achived what they wanted and the third force could not be thrown out and still trying to achive its noble goal.

    History is never accurate. Understanding historic events one has to carefully use one’s own discretion to separate facts from individual views. Many of the historians intentionally or otherwise write history that creates biased opinion. It is difficult to form a detached and disinterested opinion on such historical events and one of the outcomes seems to be the blame game. Criticism of those that played a part in independence as solely responsible for partition of India rather than the protoganists of such a partition is not new.
    In order to achieve a broader emotional base the BJP and its patrivar have demonised Mahatma Gandhi, Nehruji and others in order to inculcate a narrow and distorted view of nationalism in people’s mind. Despite that, their views should not be banned or censored
    They have a right to that freedom of speech.
    Sinilarly Mr. Jaswant Singh’s views to be treated in the sameway. He has taken five years of of hard
    work to publish this book on Mr. Jinnah. It is
    worthwhile to read his book though one may agree or disagree with his views and assessment.

    Banning his book is a ridiculous attempt to silence one’s views.

    It is interesting to note that he was with this BJP for 30 years approving of their sectarian ideas and attempts to disrupt communal harmony in the name of public service. Hope his efforts to modernise a palentological BJP is well meant but it may be futile as his regaining his status within that party in power struggle is difficult. May be he has to do penance intense enough to be readmitted to the party.
    However the way the party reacted to his book and treated him shows the quality of its (BJP)
    His dignified response to the party’s less than decent reaction must be appreciated.
    Best wishes for his political future and public service.

  17. YLH

    Guru sb what you’ve written is frankly nonsense and we have already de-constructed these myths many times.

    I hope you open your mind up a little and read H M Seervai’s “Partition of India: Legend and Reality”.

  18. Hayyer 48

    Do you have a research team working full time digging up these obscure items or is it just intensive googling?
    As I said, I am not the one to defend a communist, but I doubt Jyoti Basu would have bothered to read the foreword he put his signature to.

  19. Gorki

    Hayyer Sahib:

    Bonobashi and I have a private theory.

    BC is not one person but a small group of very accomplished and dedicated professors working for the ISI in a top secret location in the hills around Murree.

    The sole purpose of their existence is to humble the arrogant but unsuspecting Indians over and over again by their superior knowledge and unassailable intellect. 😉


  20. Bloody Civilian

    gorki is right, give or take a few details. the ‘very accomplished and dedicated group’ is indeed the good people at google.

  21. Bloody Civilian

    generated intense emotion among its constittuants on the basis of religion and their interpretation of religion and STATE. Because of their true faith in their religion and anything that is shown as connected to their religion ,they tend to support it

    except the AIML voters openly and totally defied the religious leadership. perhaps they did not consider the mullahs and ulema to be ‘connected to their religion’. perhaps muslim voters in hindustan had already put up their properties up for sale before they went to cast their communalist and separatist vote. you might have come across old timers talking of seeing 40million For Sale signs in 1945/46.