RSS questions Advani's remarks

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not at all overjoyed by the Pakistan `yatra' of Bharatiya Janata Party president L.K. Advani.

It is unhappy that the hero of the `rath yatra' from Somnath to Ayodhya has described December 6, 1992 — the day the Babri Masjid was demolished — as the "saddest day in my life." RSS leaders, on Saturday, were even more stunned by the praise lavished by Mr. Advani on the Father of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, virtually suggesting that he considered Jinnah secular.

`People angry'

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Bangalore, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav asked: "Who was responsible for the Partition of India along religious lines? What Advaniji said in Karachi and earlier was not in line with RSS thinking. The cadre is unhappy and confused, the people are angry. When Advaniji returns we will find out exactly what he said."

Mr. Madhav was not at all pleased that when Mr. Advani visited the Jinnah mazar (mausoleum) in Karachi on Saturday, he was reported to have talked of Jinnah's wish to see Pakistan emerge as a secular nation. "Every child who has read history in this country knows that it was the policies of the British, the Congress party, and, above all, Jinnah that led to the Partition of this country," Mr. Madhav said. "If one man was responsible for the creation of Pakistan, it was Jinnah."

Referring to Mr. Advani's mention of Jinnah's Presidential address to Pakistan's Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 in which Jinnah favoured a secular state as against the Islamic state that Pakistan is now, Mr. Madhav said that a man should not be judged by one sentence or a single action. His life and beliefs had to be taken in totality.

Two days ago, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal criticised Mr. Advani's remarks on the Babri Masjid demolition as the "saddest day" in his life. He wanted to know what his Ayodhya `rath yatra' was all about and whether his demand that a Ram temple should be built at the disputed site could be achieved without bringing down the masjid at the spot.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar was tight-lipped on Saturday. Asked to comment on Mr. Advani's praise for Jinnah, his response was: "No comments, how can a spokesperson of a party comment on what the party president has said."

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