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Has the debate on Jinnah begun?

Neena Vyas

"Bid to put Congress on the defensive" "It seems that at least one section of the BJP feels that it can `win' the debate and the hearts and minds of the people by juxtaposing Jinnah with Jawaharlal Nehru, and blame Nehru for Partition"


  • Basu recounts Jinnah's role in Calcutta riots
  • Yashwant Sinha comes out against Advani formulation
  • Jinnah divided the country, spread poison in society and lakhs of people were killed: Joshi

    NEW DELHI: On his return on Monday from the controversial trip to Pakistan, Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani asked for a "debate" on the role of Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. While the party is still grappling with the crisis caused by his resignation as president, the following day (Tuesday), the debate seems to have begun.

    On Wednesday, the former West Bengal Chief Minister and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Jyoti Basu, recounted Jinnah's role in instigating the terrible riots in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in August 1946 and blamed the butchery of thousands on his Muslim League's "direct action" call.

    On Thursday senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi made it clear that the party would not compromise on the Jinnah question, which was brought into sharp focus by Mr. Advani's remarks virtually applauding Mr. Jinnah as a secular leader.

    "No compromise"

    "I do not view Jinnah as secular. He divided the country and as a result we witnessed and suffered terrifying riots... he spread poison in society and lakhs of people were killed. There can be no compromise with ideology, there can be no dilution of ideology ... ideology is always above any individual."

    The former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha has also come out against the Advani formulation on Jinnah and so have other BJP leaders.

    One newspaper has carried out a survey of what people think of Jinnah. One person who heard Jinnah as a young man said: "He made the vilest communal speeches. Some of the things he said cannot be repeated; his main theme was that there was nothing common between Hindus and Muslims. He was not a religious Muslim, but by no stretch of imagination could he be described as secular."

    Several newspaper articles have also appeared, and the party is of the view that a debate has begun.

    It seems that at least one section of the BJP feels that it can "win" the debate and the hearts and minds of the people by juxtaposing Jinnah with Jawaharlal Nehru, and blame Nehru for Partition and the riots that followed.

    Several BJP leaders at the middle and lower levels have been saying this over the last few days. Their view is that Mr. Advani had a strategy to put the Congress on the defensive.

    ``A foolish venture''

    There are others in the party who felt it was a foolish political venture and would come a cropper. "Can you expect people in India to tolerate lionising of Jinnah at the expense of Nehru" was the question posed.

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