As the intensity of communalism is on the rise the use of communal symbols, icons for present political goals are on the rise. Icons are also projected and highlighted to give the messages of the agenda of particular politics. As the fulcrum of Indian politics is tilting more towards ‘divisive politics’, more and more political personalities/parties are resorting to this abhorrent game.
One recalls that Lal Krishna Advani, who brought BJP to the political forefront through Ram temple agitation, Babri demolition and consequent communal polarization initially had a hardliner image and at that time he himself was a clever politician who proposed the name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had a moderate image. As time passed Advani decided to project the moderate image for himself. As he visited Pakistan to inaugurate Katasraj Temple, he also visited Jinnah’s Mausoleum.
In the visitor’s book, he wrote, “There are many people who leave an unerasable stamp on history. But there are a few who actually create history. Qaed-E-Azam Mohd Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual,” He also quoted the 11th August speech of Jinnah in Pakistan Constituent Assembly, to show that Jinnah was very secular. In the process, he also undermined the Akhand Bharat goal of his parent organization the RSS. What he stated was part of the truth but for his organization RSS; Jinnah has been persona non grata as he is regarded as the creator of Pakistan, and so Advani himself got kicked up in Margdarshak Mandal, (Advisors Group) and was marginalized from the politics.
Now another leader in UP Akhilesh Yadav, on the eve of forthcoming elections recalled that “Sardar Patel, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and (Muhammad Ali) Jinnah studied in the same institute. They became barristers and fought for India’s freedom,” The other side of this was that IT cell (BJP) shared only part of the video to project as if Yadav is saying that Jinnah got us freedom. This is a distortion, what Yadav said.
Can the Indian nationalists, Gandhi, Nehru and Patel be grouped in the same category as Jinnah? That way Jinnah’s political career is not a straight line. During the freedom movement, we see many leaders began as Indian nationalists and later got drawn into a communal vortex. We see Savarkar also began as an anti-British revolutionary, later led the communal Hindu Mahasabha and opposed the freedom movement and became the subservient part of the British policy of ‘divide and rule’.
Jinnah also has a trajectory of beginning as a member of the Indian National Congress. Was liberal, modern and secular to begin with but later due to differences with Gandhi on the concept of the Non-Cooperation movement, drawing the average people into anti-British struggle, he drifted away and in due course went on to lead the Muslim League.
Akhilesh Yadav is advising that we should turn the history book to learn what he is saying is true. One will like to remind him to read the history in full and not in a selective way. The full trajectory of Jinnah is more complicated with a major turn after the 1920s when Gandhi launched the ‘Non-Cooperation movement’ based on non-violence and Satyagraha. Jinnah wanted to remain a constitutionalist within the British framework and felt that involving the people at large will create unwanted turmoil. Gandhi and later other leaders of Congress saw the mass movement as part of the process of building the nation, this process was labeled as ‘India: Nation in the making’.
Jinnah, irrespective of his 11th August Pakistan Constituent Assembly speech (the state will not interfere in your religion} had fallen into the trap of communal politics. He did begin as the best Ambassador of Hindu Muslim unity and entered into Lucknow Pact with Congress leader Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1916). Later he started feeling that after Independence the Hindus will be a majority and Muslim interests will be hampered. In a way, he became a victim of the delusion that the Muslim League as the representative of all the Muslim and Muslim interests will not be safe with Hindu-dominated Congress ruling the country.
This was a serious flaw in his politics. From here he started looking at politics through a communal prism and now he aimed to preserve the interests of Muslims after the British leave. To the Motilal Nehru committee, he put several demands presumably for the interests of Muslims, but these demands were mostly for the preservation of dominance of elite Muslims.
The Hindu communalism at this time was emphasizing that this is a Hindu nation. Later Savarkar, Golwalkar theorized the secondary place of Muslims. In 1930 in Muslim League Convention Sir Mohammad Iqbal asked for a separate homeland for Muslims, Pakistan. Jinnah at that time did not take it seriously. In Assembly elections (1937) Muslim League did not fare well and Congress which won massively refused to incorporate Muslim League in the Ministries.
Around this time Jinnah’s separatism got a boost and in 1940 in the Muslim League convention he put forward the demand for Pakistan. British also had an important role in encouraging Jinnah to put forward this demand. The selective presentation of Jinnah’s role in the freedom movement and putting him in the same category as Gandhi, Nehru and Patel is totally misplaced as Akhilesh Yadav is blind to the role of Jinnah as the supreme leader of the Muslim League. This is generally what such leaders are doing. Selectively picking up the part which suits their political agenda and turning a blind eye to the whole picture.
On similar grounds, Hindu nationalists present Savarkar’s anti-British activities in the pre-Andaman Period and eulogizing him and forget his role as an ideologue of ‘Two Nation Theory,’ as President of Hindu Mahasabha in keeping aloof from the freedom movement, in helping British war efforts in the second World was and his being one of the accused in Gandhi murder case.
It is necessary that the underlying ideology of leaders are presented in full to evaluate them properly, but obviously, the likes of Rajnath Singh and Akhilesh Yadav have more interest in their political goals rather than the whole truth!