SHESHRAO Chavan, vice President of the Association of World Citizens which has an NGO status with the United Nations, and Consultative Status with the U.N. Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC), apart from being chairman of the Aurangabad Centre of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, is among the few still extant in India who can speak with authority on how Pakistan came about.
This book is not a biography of Jinnah; it is the full and unexpurgated story of how Pakistan came to be created, how the movement had its origins in the Khilafat agitation in which Gandhi should not have had any interest but had foolishly, and entirely for the wrong reasons, got involved with it, how over the years, Jinnah slowly came to be alienated from the Congress, how he was humiliated at the Nagpur Session of the Indian National Congress held in December 1920 when he was hooted down with cries of ?Shame, shame!? and ?political imposter? and had to leave the site with the ?searing memory of his defeat permanently emblazoned on his brain?. Prior to 1920 Sarojini Naidu had described him as ?Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity?. But 1920 started the parting of the ways. After that, first it was Jinnah vs Congress. After1937 it became Muslims against Hindus, Muslims being led by Jinnah. Logic and common sense got knocked out of the political arena. It turned out to be a fight among egos: those of Jinnah on the one hand and of Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and, may be, Gandhi, on the other. In the end, Jinnah'sinsatiable ego prevailed at the cost of the country'spartition.
In the concluding chapter the author says: ?Why did Jinnah convert himself from an Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity, to the creator of Pakistan? It was only for psychological satisfaction to show that he was more than a match to Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and (Maulana Abdul Kalam) Azad all put together because they had hurt his ego in one way or the other and did not give him recognition as he expected?.
The author further says that if he is asked whether Jinnah alone was responsible for partition, his ?emphatic reply would be?No?. According to him, along with the British, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel ?were equally responsible for creating a feeling of separation in Jinnah'smind, and subsequently they kept on strengthening it by their utterances?.
During the months prior to Partition, the Viceroy was Lord Louis Mountbatten. On April 8, 1947 Mountbatten expressed to Jinnah his categorical opinion that it was impossible to agree to Partition of India.
On June 3, 1947, Mountbatten broadcast his speech over All India Radio. He said: ?Nothing that I have said or heard in the past four weeks has shaken my firm opinion that with a reasonable measure of goodwill between the communities, a unified India would be by far the best solution to the problem?. And he added: ?For more than a hundred years, 400 million of you have lived together and this country has been administered as a single entity. This has resulted in unified communication, defence, postal services and currency; an absence of tariffs and Customs barriers. My great hope was that communal differences would not destroy all this?.? He was hoping that all political leaders will unreservedly accept the Cabinet Mission Plan of May 16, 1946, for all its short-comings. No one was willing to do so.
Of course, there were British who wanted to see India break up, which was only to be expected. But in many ways Congress also goofed up. This has been unrelentingly illustrated by the author in historical sequences, starting with the foundation of the Home Rule League, the Khilafat Movement, the Motilal Nehru Report, the two Round Table Conferences, the 1935 Government of India Act and the resulting provincial elections and what followed, the Lucknow and Patna sessions of the Muslim League, Jinnah'scall for a Day of Deliverance (when blood flowed freely in Calcutta streets) the Simla Talks, the Cripps Mission and so onwards towards the end. Jinnah was at his inhuman and murderous worst as a hater of India. His ego would not let him rest until he humiliated Gandhi & Co, cause endless bloodshed and the death of millions in the process, divid the country and drive more millions to become refugees in their own country.
Having done that and with his Ego mollified, his sense of moral responsibility seems to have been restored. In his Presidential address to the first session of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, he spoke of secularism to the Muslim fundamentalists who had all along supported his Two-Nation Theory with vengeful willingness. Such was the fundamentalist fury that many parts of his speech were not even published by many Pakistani newspapers. He became the subject of attack. His relations with his close colleagues deteriorated. Muslim fanatics started calling him a ?kafir?. When he died, Maulana Maudoodi, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami refused to lead a namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer) and celebrated Jinnah'sday of death as a day of rejoicing. Shortly before his death, he had told Liaquate Ali Khan: ?I have committed the biggest blunder of my life. If now I get the opportunity, I would go to Delhi and tell Jawaharlal Nehru to forget about the follies of the past and become friends.? He considered himself an Indian and wanted to return to his home in Mumbai'sMalabar Hill. It was not to be.
Reading this book, one wants to weep copiously at what our leaders did and how they blundered. But the Question: Could it have been otherwise? Would always haunt Indians. History took its inevitable and pre-destined course. Indian leaders, one feels played their parts as puppets of fate. The more one thinks, the more one feels that everybody functioned the only way they could have functioned at each point in time. It would be waste of emotions now to cry over what happened. Jinnah is forgotten even in Pakistan. One only hopes that the fates will bring India and Pakistan together again. Who knows what Destiny holds for South Asia? Mountbatten could still turn out to be our hero and saviour and not Gandhi. And most certainly not Jawaharlal Nehru who made one blunder after another to alienate Jinnah. This book is recommended reading for the GenNext so that they learn what it means to put one'sself above the nation.
(Authors Press, E-35/103, Jawahar Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-110092.)