No Jinnah for India

via Sudhir Srinivasan published on September 10, 2009

In the collective conscience of India, Mohammad Ali Jinnah is a hate figure like Mohammad Ghori, Mohammad Ghaznavi, Babar and Aurangzeb. Jinnah is disliked more because his actions are fresh in memory, and millions of victims of his hate campaign are still alive.

There have been many attempts to whitewash the crimes-rape, rapine, forced conversion, loot and pillage of temples and mass slaughter of Hindus by the invading Muslim marauders-by Marxist historians like Romila Thapar, RS Sharma and Irfan Habib but no historian worth the name in India dared paint Jinnah a paragon. Because it is an impossible, thankless task.

Every nation has its unique ideas of history, sense of fair play and common memories of friends and enemies. So in Britain one cannot think of making a legend of Napoleon or in the US lionising the actions of Jefferson Davis. These things often may not stand academic scrutiny. It is so because trying to overturn these aspects is to insult the mass conscience. What historians and academics can attempt perhaps becomes taboo for politicians. So wise men avoid treading the area where only fools rush in. It is a matter of inference whether at the formative stage of his politics Jinnah was secular or that in one of his speeches after the formation of Pakistan he became generous and extended an olive branch to the beleaguered minorities in that hot bed of fanatic intolerance. After all, a tree is known by the fruit it bears.

Jinnah to a student of history comes out as the person who effectively and forcefully articulated the insidious thesis of two nation and injected the poison of communal canker and riots in India. He destroyed with lavish conspiratorial assistance from the British the long history of Hindu-Muslim unity displayed repeatedly during the country’s First War of Independence in 1857 and during the fight against the Partition of Bengal in 1905. Jinnah became the architect of Partition. Not once but repeatedly he used direct action-a vicious, vituperative call for mass murder-as a weapon of blackmail to get his way. He did this brutally instigating the massacre of millions of innocent Hindus. His devious ploy was to prove that the Hindus and the Muslims cannot live together. In this, he ensured his leadership by becoming a willing stooge of the British. When India fought the British, he sabotaged the movement by trying to keep the Muslims away from the national mainstream. Jinnah’s 1916 Lucknow Pact with the Congress was a communal charter, which formalised the appeasement Congress strategy, which finally made the Indian Muslim a bargaining chip. He conceived the divisive Muslim attitude of special status instead of equal rights for all. Appeasement led to separatism.

Jinnah cruelly and constantly insulted and heaped abuses on Gandhiji, Nehru and other Congress leaders for their correct and nationalist stand of not accepting Muslim League as the sole representative body of the Muslims. The Congress proved in polls after polls before Partition that it enjoyed the support of more Muslims than Jinnah. A frustrated, piqued and egoist Jinnah characterised Congress a Hindu party, Gandhiji, Nehru and other Congress leaders Hindu leaders and the Congress Muslim leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad as slaves of the Hindus. Even if the Congress wanted, the nation would not have accepted Jinnah as the first prime minister of India. Jinnah playing in the hands of the British not only betrayed the freedom movement but hastened and forced the Partition wading over the rivers of blood of innocent women and children and heaps of dead bodies of countless number of Hindus and Muslims. Such a political cynic should be counted among the barbarians history has witnessed. Their names are not celebrated as emancipators of human race.

Pakistan has a mission to salvage the Jinnah image because he happens to be the father of that country. After ignoring the Jinnah legacy for decades, in 1976 in the centenary year of his birth, Pakistan unleashed a huge image-building exercise for Jinnah, releasing a large cache of money for sponsoring studies, researches, seminars, workshops and books on Jinnah. A large number of western scholars got interested and produced well-documented biographies on Jinnah. Scholars from US, Europe and Asia joined the bandwagon. In India track-II diplomacy is a lucrative pastime. There is a very sophisticated and influential Pak lobby in India. From time-to-time they advance out-of-the-box ideas and nurture the pestering sore. And the Indian media gives more coverage to Pak-related stories than that to national interest stories. In recent years in India also a number of books on Jinnah have been published. Only time will tell if these efforts will succeed in de-demonising Jinnah in Indian public perception. Pakistan has another problem. It does not have many national heroes. Pakistan’s eagerness to project Jinnah as a great leader like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela etc. is understandable. But that will not change Jinnah’s image in India. Every exercise in that direction is destined to be doomed.

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