Lal Krishna Advani. The man who brought Rathayatra into Indian political lexicon after 2,000 years. The gleaming, bald pate crisscrossing the cow belt, bringing communal frenzy in his wake—-sprewing venom and baying for blood. If Vajpayee was the gentle somnolent face of BJP interspersing poetry with periods of pregnant silence, Advani was its virulent, uncompromising underbelly– a blunt weapon of saffron passion.
But now Advani desires to be the Prime Minister. And as Oprah would say—he needs a makeover. An image makeover. Which is what Advani endeavoured to do, rather successfully, by his recent statements in Pakistan. By calling the destruction of the Babri Masjid as the “worst day of his life” he stopped short of an explicit apology but it had enough of “mea culpa” to drive home the point. If that was not good karma enough, he went ahead and called Jinnah secular. Yes the same Jinnah the Pakistanis accuse Advani of having tried to assasinate.
Now the irony is this. Jinnah is as secular as Advani is. Jinnah then and Advani now both use two tongues depending on what audience they are addressing. Put Advani in front of a marauding Karseva crowd and he will shout “Ek Dhakka Aur Do” and demand communal, unconstitutional hate from his minions. Put Advani in front of a group of Pakistani parliamentarians—and the same man will be oozing peace and goodwill.
Jinnah—the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.
Jinnah—“Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual but in the political sense as citizens of the state.â€
Jinnah —Exhorts Muslims to attack Hindus on Direct Action Day and triggers a hellish bloodbath in the streets of Calcutta.
Jinnah creates Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims—a state whose foundation is religion. And yet wants Pakistan to be a secular country with a vision of India and Pakistan co-existing like USA and Canada. Truly, so many Jinnahs.
The reason why there are so many Jinnahs is because there is a fundamental disconnect between Jinnah the person and Jinnah the politician. Jinnah the person flouted all the rules of conventional Islam, detested Gandhi’s approach of associating religion with politics and had a well-documented aversion to the unwashed. Jinnah the politician saw politics through the prism of Islamic nationalism only because it was politically expedient. Hence he espoused separate electorates, collaborated with the British to push his Islamist agenda and when pushed to the wall, openly condoned violence targetted at Hindus as “Direct Action”.
The disconnect is present in Advani too. By all accounts he is an agreeable, enlightened person who is a capable administator, reasonably corruption-free and is PM-material. He is different from people like Togadia and Modi who reek hatred and whose politics are an accurate reflection of their own deep wells of intolerance. Advani , by all indications, only puts on masks based on convenience—sometimes of a Hindu nationalist and sometimes of an enlightened secular. Just like Jinnah.
Jinnah intitially opposed the Two Nations Theory. Then in 1937, the Muslim League under him were wiped out in the elections even in the Muslim seats. All Jinnah wanted was to get the crumbs of power despite having been trounced but Nehru, no less power hungry himself, refused to give Jinnah anything. This was when Jinnah took to the streets ( a form of political mobilization he despised personally), played the communal card and unleashed violence on Hindus with the aim of totally polarizing India on the basis of religion. Gandhi, who knew Jinnah’s true reason for the Two Nation Theory, even offered him the Prime Ministership of an undivided India circa 1946 but Nehru would not budge. Jinnah also was too far committed to Pakistan to back out by then.
So when Jaswant Singh supports Advani and says what Advani said was a historical fact, then he is not wrong. The speech of Jinnah that Advani used was one delivered by Jinnah the person. There are hundreds of other speeches delivered by Jinnah the politician which would show him to be communal.
Just like Advani’s espousal of Jinnah can be quoted, fifty years later, as an indication of Advani’s secular character.
But we know he is not. And neither was Jinnah.