Controversy on Jinnah portrait

An unnecessary controversy has been raised over the portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah which adorns the wall of the students union of the Aligarh Muslim University. Jinnah’s portrait was hung on the AMU students’ union office after he was given life membership of the union in 1938. For eighty long years, the portrait has been there. Nobody ever raised the demand for its removal, not even during the period when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and Lal Krishna Advani was the Deputy Prime Minister. Then why raise this demand today? Because the BJP of Modi-Amit Shah is very different from the BJP of Vajpayee-Advani days. Those who are demanding removal of Jinnah portrait from the AMU have refrained from making the same demand about the Jinnah portrait adorning the Parliament House. The reason is obvious. The BJP of today is consciously pursuing the politics of communal polarization. The demand for removal of Jinnah portrait from the Aligarh Muslim University helps sharpen the polarization.
How many people today know that Jinnah was in the Indian National Congress till 1920? How many know that it was Jinnah who came to defend Bhagat Singh, on his own and without taking any fee, at Singh’s trial and called it a ‘travesty of justice’?  How many people know that the day when the Muslim League was founded at the residence of Nawab Salimullah in Dhaka on December 30, 1906, it was Jinnah who condemned the move and urged the Muslim community not to fall into the ‘trap’ (of joining the League) laid by the British?  How many people know that sitting in Calcutta, he issued a press statement on that day condemning the formation of the League and prophesied with uncanny prescience that it was “a conspiracy to divide the nation”?  It is an irony of history that his prophesy proved true in 1947 and he it was who was the instrument of India’s division.
All these are ineffaceable facts of history. Why Congressman Jinnah subsequently became the undisputed leader of the Muslim League even though he was never a religious fanatic, is a subject for students of history. The personality of Jinnah is imprinted in the history of India’s freedom struggle and also of its Partition. If one goes by the account given by Penderel Moon in his book Divide and Quit, Jinnah never seriously wanted the partition of India. He made the demand only as a bargaining chip. When his demand was conceded then he himself was taken aback. Whether one likes him or not, Jinnah is a part of modern India’s history.

Thursday, 10 May, 2018