Courtesy SouthAsian blog, we are cross-posting this extremely insightful piece that adds to the debates that have taken place here. RR
Varun Gandhi is reported to have said some strong things about Muslims in India. So, I am told, did his father.
Let me use this as a peg to say something about Varun’s venerable great-grandfather whose maturity Varun seems unlikely to emulate. But beyond that, let me speculate about some neglected dimensions of the political history of the subcontinent.
Two remarkable statements made around the time of the partition of British India continue to intrigue me:
Here is Mohammad Ali Jinnah, addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in August 1947:
You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.
And here is Jawaharlal Nehru, writing to Chief Ministers of provinces in India in October 1947, pointing out that there remained, within India,
a Muslim minority who are so large in numbers that they cannot, even if they want, go anywhere else. That is a basic fact about which there can be no argument. Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have got to deal with this minority in a civilized manner. We must give them security and the rights of citizens in a democratic State.
How can we read these two statements given the history of which they were a part?