13 June, 2021

Jinnah, The Janus-Faced

Jinnah began as secular. But political ambition made him change colours often.

Jinnah, The Janus-Faced
M.A. Jinnah's role must not be interpreted from the lofty heights of majoritarianism. Nor should we hold him solely responsible for India's partition. Others played an equally important part in signing united India's death warrant. Yet, Jinnah was the one to raise the war cry at Lahore, a city with a glorious history of multiculturalism and composite living. He was the one to talk of Muslims having their homeland, their territory, and their state.

Lest we forget, his 1939 call for 'Deliverance Day' and for 'direct action' on August 16, 1946, sounded the death-knell for united India. His 'Muslim nation' was born in the throes of ugly violence and bloodshed. "This is not that dawn," wrote Urdu poet Faiz, "for which we waited."

Nehru said in 1937: "I do not quite know what our differences are in politics. I had imagined they were not great." Fact is, Jinnah did all the right things from the time he accepted Dadabhai Naoroji's political tutelage. A quintessential liberal, he played a big part in the Home Rule League, aided the Congress and the Muslim League to craft an...

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