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Published in the 16-30 June 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Advani-reincarnation or a new mask

By Ram Puniyani

Various factions of Sangh combine are up in arms against Advani (June 2005) for his praising Mohammad Ali Jinnah and for saying that 6th December 1992 was the saddest day of his life. He also hinted that RSS pipe dream of Akhand bharat is not realistic any more. To be fair to him he had made a similar statement about Babri demolition earlier also, but it is the first time that he called it Babri Masjid rather than disputed structure as the masjid is generally referred to by the Sangh progeny. And of course his appreciation of Jinnah has come to light as a surprise to all. The Sangh combine has been feeding its recruits on the ideology that it was Jinnah, so the Muslims, who has been responsible for the partition of this country. It is in this light that one can understand the discomfiture of the Sangh and the launch of the series of protests against Advani's statements in the 'enemy land', that's how Sangh has popularized Pakistan so far.

Advani It seems that people like Advani when they are away from the 'mother land' become sombre and also their language and concepts come out in a more sanitized fashion. At those times one can see their double speak more clearly. Now Jinnah (and so the Muslims) whom RSS has demonized as the one mainly responsible for partition tragedy, is being praised as the secular person, an ambassador of Hindu Muslim unity, does come as a shock to the minds indoctrinated by RSS. By now the demonization of Muslims, Pakistan and Islam has become part of the social common sense here in India. If his speech and some statements are seen in isolation there may seem to be some truth in what Advani is saying, but in the 'Hate atmosphere' created by RSS affiliates can his Parivar members who have been groomed with Hate Jinnah, Hate Muslims, swallow this?

Jinnah, of course was a complex person, secular in thinking and modern in outlook but at the same time he did land up in the communal Muslim League and so played a politics, which was divisive and which played in the hands of British policy of divide and rule. It was not that Muslim League was the only outfit to have aided the British policy of divide and rule. It was duly supported by Hindu communalism, as manifested through Hindu Mahasabha and RSS, in particular. Jinnah began his political career as secretary of Dadabhai Nawroji. He talked passionately about nationalism and Hindu Muslim unity as a means to achieve Nationalism. The first crack in his secular edifice occurred when he became the representative in the central legislative assembly as a member representing Muslims as per the separate electorates. In addition to being member of Congress he joined Muslim league in 1913, as at that time having two memberships was not unusual.

As a representative of Muslims he struck the Lucknow pact with Lokmanya Tilak. Till this time in contrast to the Muslim League line that Self Rule will mean Hindu rule, he upheld Self-rule as desirable. With Congress aiming to transform the freedom movement into a mass movement and taking up the breaking of British laws in a peaceful manner, Jinnah disagreed and left the Congress. Here comes the decisive factor which transformed a potentially secular person into a player of communal politics. He was against breaking laws, against mass movement and against the popular participation in the National movement. This has more to do with the class nature of Jinnah. He was aristocratic in his ideology. With his leaving the Congress and persisting with Muslim league membership, the social base around his politics started changing and he surrendered to the nitty gritties of Muslim Communalism even while talking in the secular language and upholding secular values. 

Persons cannot be judged merely by their utterances, the impact of their association and actions has to be the major marker of their politics. Muslim League began as representative of feudal elements. In due course Jinnah emerged as the most important leader of Muslim League, pursued its practical politics, leaders around him started spewing the poison of communalism, just like what Hindu Mahasabha and RSS were doing. Activities of these two supplementary streams resulted in the rise of communal violence. The idea of Pakistan came in, which was the peak glory of British policy of divide and rule.

After the formation of Pakistan, Jinnah did take a thorough secular line that all those who are living in Pakistan, irrespective of their religion were to be equal citizens according to Jinnah. But the logic of Muslim League politics had already consolidated the communal forces around him. Even during his lifetime he started being sidetracked by the communal elements who constituted Muslim League. His early death, came as a respite for the communalists for whom now all barriers for the entry of Mullahs into the politics were broken and over a period of time Military-Mullah complex became strong and became the major determining factor of Pakistani politics. While keeping these facts in mind, Jinnah has to be seen as being a person having deep secular values but at the same time being the leader of rabid communal forces (Muslim League), which were to supplement the Hindu communal forces (Hindu Mahasabha+RSS) and played in the hands of British, imperialist designs. 

Here in India, Advani has been talking of one facet of Jinnah, his being a part of Muslim League and so contributing to the divisive process, while being in Pakistan, like a good guest who does not criticize the host, he is talking the other side of Jinnah which also happens to be true. This may have something also to do with a probable change in BJP line vis a vis Pakistan. There are two other facets of the issue also. One is of course the atmosphere of Indo-Pak relations has transcended the hate mongering which RSS/BJP/VHP had been doing merrily for decades. Second Advani being a realistic and calculated person knows that improvement in Indo Pak relations is there to stay. At another level since BJP is far from getting power on its own, BJP will have to strike alliances as a matter of compulsion. And only a person of moderate liberal image can be the leader of coalition . 

At another level one also recalls that in some Sangh circles there is an attempt to put the whole blame of partition and exonerate Jinnah on the ground that he was sidetracked in the Congress so he had to join Muslim League. Surely RSS ideology operates at multiple levels. But today the dominant social common sense does not permit the acceptance of Jinnah as an agreeable person. The best index of this also comes in title of the books by one Muslim scholar, whose book on Jinnah is titled as 'The man who divided India'. This precisely reflects the dominant discourse on Jinnah as popularised by RSS cohorts. 

At deeper level it is likely that while changing gears of ideology and propaganda, Advani does realise that essentially the base of Jinnah's Muslim League and Hindutva's ideology remain 'two nation theory', that religion is the basis of nation states. As matters are not black and white these subtle points are coming up. Some theoreticians are trying to see virtue in Advani's realism. They essentially ignore that Muslim League and Hindutva politics operated on parallel but opposite wave length. 

About Babri Masjid also it was his Mandir Wahin Banayenge (we will build temple where Babri masjid is located) was the slogan, which launched the campaign to demolish the mosque. Here, there is a straight duplicity involved in his utterance. You lead the people to build the temple precisely where the mosque is located, i. e. you lead them to demolish the Masjid and then when you succeed in what you had aimed at, you turn around and say that it is saddest day of your life. 

This is surely for the consumption of posterity, totally devoid of truth. So Advani like Jinnah is a complex character, doing contradictory things at the same time. But mercifully after a decade of deceit Advani does concede that what he demolished was Babri Masjid. This if taken to its true logic should bury the non issues of Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura for good. But probably what Advani has unfolded may be difficult to control, as after joining Muslim League, despite his 11th August speech neither could the communal elements be suppressed nor did they disappear. So in a way the logic of Advani's politics is being manifested in his condemnation by the same people who held him as a hero when he was leading the Ram Rath (Blood) Yatra or was presiding over the demolition of Masjid. Many a social scientists conjecture that had Jinnah not died of TB he would have been side-tracked by the same elements who were around him and applauding his speeches.

One more observation of the present drama is that the already known fact that the BJP is a mere electoral wing of RSS gets more than confirmed for good. None from BJP wants Advani to resign, but as RSS and its affiliate, VHP, do not want him, as such or in his new avatar, he may have to go. 

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