Jaswant Singh expelled from BJP

I expected this to happen. The controversial book at last made the BJP to expel veteran leader Jaswant Singh from the party membership. Not just the membership, the 71-year-old leader, who has held the portfolios of finance, defence and external affairs in BJP-led governments, has also been stripped of all the party posts, thanks to the praises on Jinnah in his new book — Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence.

Without even reading the book, how can the party come to a conclusion that Singh has done something wrong? A writer has full freedom to express his views and many have even done so. And this is not the first time Singh’s writings have created controversy. In his previous book A Call to Honour: In Service of Emergent India in 2006, he alleged that there was a mole in the prime minister’s office in the 90s during the tenure of P.V. Narasimha Rao, who leaked information to American sources.

Party president Rajnath Singh informed the leader, who arrived in Shimla Tuesday afternoon for the three-day ‘chintan baithak’ (introspection session) of the party, Wednesday morning not to attend the baithak.

The former Union minister has not only earned the ire of party leaders for his book, but also majority of countrymen who think very conventionally about Jinnah and Pakistan.

If thought practically, what’s wrong in eulogising Jinnah? Jaswant Singh has done a five years of research and has come out with the book. It might be true that Jinnah was ‘demonised’ by India, while it was actually India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru whose belief in a centralised polity had led to the partition of the subcontinent.

Jaswant Singh has been a member of the BJP since it was formed in 1980. It is very unfortunate that the party put an end to his 30 years of service just because he wrote a book. Instead of calling him and informing about the expulsion, the party president could have gone in person and informed him. Else, he could have asked Singh to step down from the party.

It is ironic that India Today magazine had portrayed Jaswant Singh as Hanuman and the BJP considered him as Ravana! It is really sad that taking a non-conventional view on Jinnah and writing a book on him can destroy a veteran’s political career.

He’s not the only person being targetted like this for his views. There have been several writers facing such expulsion and humiliation for making their views and opinions public across the world.

Time and again political parties have showed their true colours and bared their enemosity towards muslims in general and Pakistan in specific. Why are we so paranoid and consider every Pakistani as an enemy? We are not ready to accept the fact even Ravan had some good qualities. Expressing views regarding any individual is his/her personal opinion. You go with it or not is your choice. If Jinnah has good points, why not accept them? Why not congrtulate Jaswant Singh for being true to his conscience?

I always thought the BJP has several men with good academics and who have been allowed to air their views openly compared to other parties. I often admired the integrity of the top few leaders in the party since my school days. But the action of expelling Jaswant Singh for merely writing a book and airing his views, which may not be historically wrong, makes me feel very bad. I still wonder how can a person who cannot even win an election on his own is a president of BJP and can easily expel a veteran like Jaswant who has many more commendable deeds to his credit.

Democracy without dissent will be very dangerous for the country as it will stifle genuine and frank opinions, which may not always be palatable to the majority, be it in the BJP, Congress or any other party. It is a question of the mindset. Parties should have an open mindset to welcome a dissent or a different opinion from members. Parties should help members to express their contrarian views without any fear.

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