Jaswant Singh admires Jinnah’s character
17 August, 2009
NEW DELHI: Jaswant Singh, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Indian minister, has described the personality of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a “great character and determination”.
“He created something out of nothing and single-handedly stood against the might of the Congress party and against the British, who didn’t really like him,” Jaswant Singh said.
In an interview with the CNN-IBN’s programme “Devil’s Advocate”, Jaswant Singh spoke on his forthcoming biography of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Jaswant Singh said he was “attracted by (and) drawn to” Jinnah’s personality.
“He was a ‘great Indian’ who India has ‘demonised’,” he said and added that Jawaharlal Nehru’s belief in a centralised polity was responsible for partition. He admitted that the Indian Muslims were treated ‘as aliens’.
Jaswant Singh said: “I was attracted by the personality, which has resulted in a book. If I was not drawn to the personality, I wouldn’t have written the book. It’s an intricate, complex personality of great character, determination.”
When asked if he was a great man, Jaswant Singh said: “Oh yes, because he created something out of nothing and single-handedly stood against the might of the Congress party and against the British, who didn’t really like him. Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian. Why don’t we recognise that? Why don’t we see (and try to understand) why he called him that?”
When asked whether he was a nationalist, Jaswant Singh said, “Oh yes. He fought the British for an independent India, but also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India — the acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim unity.”
Jaswant Singh said there was a lot in Jinnah’s character that he personally admired stressing, in particular, the fact that Jinnah was a self-made man, who had carved a position for himself in a metropolitan city like Bombay without seeking help or support from anyone else.
“I admire certain aspects of his personality, his determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man. Mahatma Gandhi was the son of a Diwan. All these (people) ‘Nehru and others’ were born to wealth and position. Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved in Bombay, a metropolitan city, and a position for himself. He was so poor he had to walk to work, he told one of his biographers there was always room at the top, but there’s no lift. And he never sought a lift,” Jaswant Singh said.
Asked if he agreed with the view held by many in India that Jinnah hated Hindus, Jaswant Singh said: “Wrong. Totally wrong. That certainly he was not — his principal disagreement was with the Congress party. He had no problems whatsoever with Hindus.”
Jaswant Singh said India had misunderstood Jinnah. “I think we have misunderstood him,” he said. “In the 20th century, the most telling event in the subcontinent was the partition of the country,” he said. When asked on the partition of India in 1947, Jaswant Singh said that if the Congress could have accepted a decentralised federal country, then in that event, a united India ‘was ours to attain’. The problem, he added, was Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘highly centralised polity’.