Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh has said Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was “demonised” by India, though it was Jawaharlal Nehru’s belief in a centralised system that led to the Partition.

Mr. Singh, whose book ‘Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence’ will be released tomorrow, said Indian Muslims were treated as aliens. “Oh yes, because he created something out of nothing and single-handedly he stood up against the might of the Congress and the British who didn’t really like him... Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian. Why don’t we recognise that? Why don’t we see [and try to understand], why he called him that,” Mr. Singh said, when asked by Karan Thapar in an interview whether he viewed Jinnah as a great man.

The former External Affairs Minister said India had misunderstood Jinnah and made a demon out of him. Contrary to the popular perception, Mr. Singh said, it was not Jinnah, but Jawaharlal Nehru’s “highly centralised polity” that led to the Partition.

Mr. Singh contested the popular Indian view that Jinnah was the villain of Partition or the man principally responsible for it.

Maintaining that this view was wrong, he said: “It is not borne out by facts...We need to correct it.” He reckoned that Jinnah’s call for Pakistan was “a negotiating tactic” to obtain “space” for Muslims “in a reassuring system,” in which they would not be dominated by the Hindu majority.

Had the final decisions been taken by Mahatma Gandhi, Rajaji or Maulana Azad, rather than Nehru, a united India would have been attained, he said.

Mr. Singh said the widespread opinion that Jinnah was against Hindus was mistaken.

When told that his views might not be to his party’s liking, he replied: “I did not write this book as a BJP parliamentarian. I wrote this book as an Indian... this is not a party document. My party knows I have been working on this.”

Mr. Singh also spoke about Indian Muslims who, he said, “have paid the price of Partition.” He said India treated them as “aliens.” “Look at the eyes of the Muslims who live in India, and if you truly see the pain with which they live, to which land do they belong?”

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