I am not a big fan of Jaswant Singh. Ever since he made a big noise during the Kargil conflict about the torture-murder by the Pakistani army of Lt. Kalia and his company, only to quietly drop the matter altogether soon after, I have felt that there more rhetoric than reality in his carefully-cultivated image as an officer and a gentleman.
And I have no expectation that his current revisionist work about Jinnah breaks any useful new grounds of scholarship or insight, judging by the contents of this interview . While it is good that he urges a cessation of the caricaturing of Jinnah as a demon in India, he, like many others, focuses too much on rehabilitating Jinnah, and dwelling on the what-might-have-beens of Partition itself, and exhibits little interest in advancing a useful critical understanding of the huge problem that Jinnah's creation Pakistan has grown into today.
Nevertheless, the publication of his book presents an opportunity to initiate a debate that could just possibly lead to such an understanding, if only through the process of questioning its underlying thesis.
In expelling Jaswant Singh, the BJP and its parent RSS have, once again exhibited an unwholesome haste to miss just such an opportunity. (The last significant time was in 2002 when, after the Gujarat violence, they spent more time making excuses for the lawlessness than in examining and clarifying their own attitudes towards Muslims, and law and order) Taken together with the other players on the political scene, the BJP's decision is a sad commentary on the state of Indian political thought today. In the Congress party, we have apparatchiks toeing the high-command's line in offering incoherent explanations of the government's incomprehensible Pakistan policy. The Communists are caught up in a group-hate of the United States. And here we have the alleged leader of nationalistic politics, the RSS, shutting the door to an open discussion of what Jinnah and Pakistan have come to mean, and what to do about it.
The upshot is that policy gets made in India by a small group of de facto dictators on high, who will brook no check or dissent even among their own peers. Quite Stalinist ( except of course for the imprisonment and killing). For the people of India as a whole, this spells trouble, since these people are usually egotistical, smug and overall intellectually ill-equipped (their inabiity to tolerate dissent is itself evidence of this). This way of doing business leads to ill-considered policies that will culminate in disaster. And disaster takes on a whole new meaning in the current nuclear-armed scenario.
To survive, let alone see their dreams come to fruition, it seems that Indians have little choice but to stop outsourcing their thinking to self-styled political thinkers and leaders.