The ban on the sale of Jinnah: India–Partition–Independence has had both the BJP and the Congress in Gujarat agreeing it was necessary, though the latter is still critical that a ban is not good enough. GPCC president Siddharth Patel claims the ban was like locking the stable gate after the horses had run away. “The state government has calculatedly banned the book after its contention that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel were responsible for the Partition gained much publicity,” he maintained.
Significantly, there was hardly any political whimper or debate over the book’s content in Gujarat during the time gap between its release and Singh’s expulsion followed by the ban by the Narendra Modi government.
Barring objections from a few local activists and a handful of intellectuals, the ban on the book has invited hardly any opposition in Gujarat. Major book shops in the state informed that there was hardly any enquiry for its copies, and hardly any local publication had reviewed the book. Even the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute, which works to further his legacy, had not voiced any protest, until post-ban.
The Modi government had mentioned only the alleged slight to Sardar’s legacy to justify the ban, and not a word on Nehru’s role depicted in the book. “Jaswant Singh has raised questions as well as doubts on Sardar Patel’s role in the Partition as well as his patriotism. The writings are contrary to the image of the architect of India’s unity and Gujarat’s hero as well as historical facts. It has to be banned in larger interest,” the state government stated.
While it is widely believed that the quick ban may have stolen the Congress’ thunder ahead of the Assembly bypolls in the state, it could also not have leveraged the issue greatly with its author thrown out of the BJP for it anyway. But the state Congress is going a step ahead. “Why is action being taken only against Jaswant Singh and not Advani? He had said similar things in Pakistan,” said Patel.
The state has witnessed several politicians styling themselves on Sardar’s legacy. Advani, the Gandhinagar MP, was hailed as a Loh Purush (an Iron Man) by his partymen. Besides, late Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel, incidentally Gujarat Congress chief Siddharth Patel’s father, was once known as “Chhote Sardar’’.
Incidentally, Congress Minister of State for Small and Medium Industries Dinsha Patel, who heads the Sardar Patel Memorial Trust, had taken out state-wide rallies and campaigns post 2002 riots to spread Sardar Patel’s ideals “in the right way”.
In fact, before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Sardar Patel Memorial Trust had run ad campaigns in leading Gujarati dailies exhorting citizens to vote and had held an exhibition especially on Sardar Patel and the elections.
‘Wrong to criticise decision taken in those times’
AHMEDABAD: The comments of expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his book Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence have attracted sharp reactions from the followers of the latter. The chairman of Charutar Vidya Mandal (CVM), Dr CL Patel, said that both Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru wanted Partition and had conveyed their decision to Mahatma Gandhi. “There is no doubt about it. But we should not criticise the decision taken in those times. It was a correct decision considering the situation in Pakistan and what was happening there at that time. The decision was in favour of the people,” he said.
Asked if Jinnah was secular as mentioned in Singh’s book, he said, “L K Adavanji had also said this (during his visit to Pakistan). However, I don’t agree with that.” On the Gujarat government’s move to ban the publication and supply of the book in the state, he said, “Whatever the state government has done we should respect it.”
The authorities at the Sardar Patel Trust (SPT) in Anand went a step ahead and called for banning the sale of the book across the country. “After reading the book, we will write to the Prime Minister
to impose a nationwide ban (on its sale),” said Ramesh Prajapati, administrator at the SPT.