New Delhi: After creating a storm by his praise of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh Monday clammed up on the subject during the release of his book on the architect of Pakistan.
After a panel of seven speakers praised his book, ‘Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence’ at the launch function here, Jaswant Singh merely said – “Authors should not speak. They are supposed to be read.”
“The books are available outside, please do buy and read it. Good night,” was all Singh said to the audience as he smilingly walked away, leaving high and dry a battery of journalists waiting for three hours to note what more he had to say on the issue.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who heard out all speakers with rapt attention, could not but help grin when the former external affairs minister avoided any further controversy by keeping his own counsel.
Among other things, Jaswant Singh’s book contests the popular Indian view that Jinnah was the villain of the 1947 partition and maintains that he was a secular person who was against religion in politics.
Singh had said this during an interview with CNN-IBN channel and also blamed India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the partition, creating a storm over the weekend ahead of the book’s release.
The book received critical acclaim from the panelists – eminent writer Lord Meghnad Desai, veteran journalists Mark Tully, M.J. Akbar and B.G. Verghese from India and Hameed Haroon from Pakistan, besides renowned Hindi litterateur Naamvar Singh.
The book has also been translated in Hindi and the Urdu edition is expected to hit the stands later this month. It has been published by Rupa & Co in English and Rajpal & Sons in Hindi.
Jaswant Singh sparked off a controversy when he told Karan Thapar in “Devil’s Advocate”, which was aired on CNN-IBN Sunday and Monday, that: “Nehru believed in a highly centralized polity. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity. That even Gandhi accepted. Nehru didn’t. Consistently, he stood in the way of a federal India until 1947 when it became a partitioned India.”
He said: “I think we have misunderstood him (Jinnah) because we needed to create a demon… We needed a demon because in the 20th century the most telling event in the subcontinent was the partition of the country.”
His praise for Jinnah also comes ahead of the BJP’s three-day ‘Chintan Baithak’ (brainstorming session) to begin in Shimla Aug 19.
The BJP has been maintaining that it has not changed its resolution on Jinnah, which was adopted in 2005 against the backdrop of senior leader L.K. Advani’s visit to Pakistan and his comments appreciating Jinnah.
Advani’s remarks had also caused an embarrassment to the BJP, that is seen to be pursuing right wing politics.