There were three words which would ignite the heart and minds of a common Muslim, pretty much globally. Words which would make them fly passenger aircrafts into buildings, words which would inspire them to blow themselves up within a group of school children. These are the three “J” words- Jews, Jihad and Jinnah. In the last three days or so a fourth word seems to have been added to this heartrending vocabulary, Jaswant. I am not sure if this could be said for the world Muslim community but surely Muslims from the sub-continent are not keeping their feelings occult. Jaswant Singh is the new found hero of Muslims. The man who supposedly “demolished” the BJP and had the courage to act against the “ideology” of the Sangh Parivar.
In the last three days or so my mailbox has been inundated with emails from Muslim friends across the globe. Congratulatory messages, interview excerpts and even a heavily edited biographical sketch of Jaswant Singh. What is interesting to note is the particular attempt of the American Muslim diasporas to see Mr. Singh in a new light. Or maybe to see with awe and pleasure the disintegration of party values for which they feared the BJP not long ago. Jaswant Singh’s glorification of Jinnah in his new book has added him to the list of those rare scholars who eulogize the Muslims and their glorious past. What makes him so interesting is the fact that he comes from a party which is known for its politics of hate against the minorities in this country. Being a part of the BJP, this volte face makes him look like a conspirator from within the ranks. A man who could spill the beans! Surely, the climax to the events leading to BJP’s defeat in the 2009 general elections.
As a Muslim, I can appreciate the desperation of my brethren in clutching on to any sign of defeat for the perpetrators of Ayodhya and Gujarat. The delusive disintegration of the BJP is like a fable to Muslim ears. I see this as an attempt to construct new messiahs as the old ones betray. To many, Jaswant Singh gives a reason to justify the two nation theory of Jinnah with a much more erudite argument. Although it is a different matter that the same divisive imagination is now threatening the land which Jinnah created.
What is surprising to me is the simplicity which goes in the belief bestowed into Jaswant Singh by the Muslim community in particular and people with secular credentials in general. Jaswant Singh was part of the machinery which ran amok in Gujarat in 2002. In a recent interview to a news channel he categorically boasts of preventing Atal Bihari Vajpayee from resigning in wake of the Gujarat riots. To me, this is an act for which he and the likes of him should never be forgiven. My heart whines when I realize that there was a moment in that mayhem which could have saved our face in front of the world community. Moment of sanity within the ranks of the slayers. Oh Mr. Singh! You did not prevent Vajpayee from resigning, you snatched a chance from history to correct. A chance of salvation of the ethos of Indian democracy and secularism. Had Atal Bihari Vajpayee resigned that day, the pride and dignity of secular Indians would have been salvaged.
May be Jaswant Singh’s book was more to do with Jawaharlal Nehru than Jinnah. Maybe the agenda was to blame Nehru for the happenings of the decade preceding the macabre division on that fateful midnight of August 15, 1947. Maybe it was more to do with the politics of diverting secular Hindu vote from the Congress. We can only guess.
As for the delight of the Muslim diasporas in celebrating the so called “disintegration” of the BJP, I have a word of caution. The BJP is down but definitely not out. They are in a process of defoliation. The new is taking over from the old. The cycle of hate is getting new bearings. The machine is getting ready for fresh meat. People may come and go; the thought process can only mature. Yes, there are cracks in the old bastion and the rubble is falling. It would be inanity par excellence to get attracted to this debris.
The legacy of Jinnah has new takers. It is acceptable that his political thinking can be revisited and cherished by those who not long ago idealized the core beliefs of communal politics in this country. Muslims of India have limited options. Their options do not lie in abhorring Jews, loving Jinnah or dying in Jihad. They need to integrate in the main mass of the country. The process of democracy gives them this chance. They should realize that the tectonic plate which connects them to their brethren in Pakistan and the Middle East is long fractured. The process of drifting away to connect with the remnants of Islam in the Arab world is no longer an option. Their dreams, their aspirations and their desires lie in India. Pakistan is history. Hindus are not Jews and Jaswant no Jinnah.