Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948), the founder of Pakistan, has long been a favourite villain of the Indian Right, reviled as the prime architect of the Partition of India in 1947. Jinnah: India – Partition – Independence dares to question this orthodoxy, and its publication in August 2009 caused a political sensation in India. Its author, former Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh, was summarily expelled from the Hindu nationalist BJP for blasphemies against the party’s ‘core beliefs’, and for claiming that Jinnah had been ‘demonised’ by the Indian media.
Singh does indeed write admiringly of Jinnah in personal terms, describing his virtues as ‘intense’ and his faults as ‘trivial’ – a radical departure from the received wisdom that he was aloof, arrogant, inflexible and manically ambitious. Singh is kinder, perhaps, because as a politician himself he can