Bharatiya Janata Party chief Lal Kishenchand Advani has kicked up a storm by calling Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, a man of impeccable secular credentials. The statement made in Pakistan just a couple days after Advani dumped the Sangh Parivar's 'Akhand Bharat' theory, is being seen by some in his party and the Parivar as a betrayal.
For them the unthinkable has happened. All these years Advani and other BJP leaders questioned the logic of Partition and held Jinnah primarily responsible for India's division. BJP workers are suddenly unable to come to terms with their chief's change of stand. Advani's 'I don't hate Pakistan' line has left them cold.
Senior Editor Sheela Bhatt met one such party worker who has worshipped Advani all these years. But his leader's visit to Jinnah's mausoleum in Karachi and his statement there glorifying the man, he said, has left him seething.
"I am a BJP soldier and I never anticipated such a situation where our strongest leader will harm the cause of Hindus. I just want to tell you that not only BJP voters but Indians by and large do not agree with my leaders' views on Jinnah."
This is the BJP soldier's open letter to a leader he calls his senapati (commander):
How can you speak like this? We didn't expect such a melodramatic u-turn from you. We always understood Vajpayeeji [former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee]. He was a moderate. Many a time we didn't agree with his liberal views, but since he loved us and he loved our party, we ignored his statements.
I am your solider. You were my senapati (commander). You have betrayed your soldiers. I am very hurt because in the last ten years, while serving the BJP day and night, I never thought even once that Advaniji could betray the Hindus. Do you know a few people from our party have sent you a message expressing our strong disagreement? They have said in the message that 'Ishwar na karen yeh khabar sach ho' (may the reports of your utterances on Jinnah be untrue). I want to say again and again that crores of Hindus have been hurt by your remarks.
Also see: Advani -- 'I don't hate Pakistan'
Advaniji, what image we carried of you in our hearts! And now, after your Pakistan visit, I can't find the words to describe how I feel. I don't know why you have changed your politics and your thinking. But this is not good for the health of our party. In India no one knew about your plan to change your heart in Pakistan! We were surprised to hear this news from across the border.
We are shocked. Our leaders in the party offices are shaken. They are not ready to talk to us. They are saying let's wait and watch. You will have to explain. Why have you suddenly decided to change the party's thinking of past 58 years? Have you forgotten everything that Jinnah did? Yesterday one of our leaders told us that how Jinnah remained unmoved even after 90,000 Hindu women were raped on the eastern borders. Vulgar remarks were scribbled on our women's bodies. Have you forgotten all these injustices?
Advaniji, I am told that you became emotional on reaching your family house [in Karachi]. When I go to my native place, I too become nostalgic. I wish this is nothing more than nostalgia and you will come back to your real self.
You forgot your politics and you forgot your party on reaching Karachi. If that is the truth, we will come to terms with it.
Somebody told us you were misled by former Communist, Sudheendra Kulkarni [national secretary and secretary to the party president], who doesn't know much about our party.
Also see: Peace shouldn't be hostage to Kashmir -- Advani
I feel sorry to say that your remarks will hurt our interests heavily in Bihar. The voters of Bihar are the most intelligent and they will read your mind better than anyone else in the country. You will be dubbed an opportunist. Look at Laluji's[former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav] remarks. He praised you because he knows if you stick to your stand on Jinnah, BJP's loyal voters will shift away from the party.
Our party leaders also speculate that your calculation is that if the BJP emerges as a bigger party, you will be its prime ministerial candidate. What you have said is helping you emerge as a more acceptable leader in the National Democratic Alliance. Your remarks are a recognition of the era of coalitions.
But even if this is true, why are you twisting history? And that too in Pakistan?
Your image is of that a Hindu leader. Please don't shed that image. India needs somebody to look up with respect for the security of Hindus.
What you have done, is something even a Congress leader would think twice before doing. Now, we will watch your words carefully. Now, we just don't trust any leader. Political leaders can change anytime and in any manner that suits them.
We are deeply hurt.
Our party is full of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh trained people. They will revolt against you. If you don't change, the party will break. The party will disperse. There are many areas in country where there is not a single home that does not have an RSS sympathiser. In those areas we will not be able to even move around.
These workers know that Jinnah was communal and snatched a part of our motherland by misleading the Britishers and the Congress leaders of that time. The country doesn't believe in your views on Jinnah.
I am your party's soldier. I want peace with Pakistan. But I want to stick to my identity of a Hindu. I want to be proud of being a Hindu. How can the BJP shed its identity of being a party which cares for Hindus?
If we do, why would anyone join us or vote for us? Why should he then not join the Congress or the Rashtriya Janata Dal or even the Communists?
Advaniji, yeh aapne kya kiya, kyon kiya [what have you done, why]?
A loyal BJP worker