Bhopal, April 14: Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s social justice minister has found a formula to empower the minority community he is assigned to serve: Atone to wash the blot of Partition and prove your loyalty to the country.
Sanjay Paswan, Union minister for social justice and empowerment, has publicly endorsed the views of a controversial author who said that Muslims should not be trusted on account of “their role in Partition”.
Paswan, who supervises the functioning of the Minorities’ Commission, the Minorities Financial and Development Corporation and the Maulana Azad Foundation, said he firmly believes that Muslims need to “atone” for “past sins” committed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
The minister, who was in Bhopal to release a book on B.R. Ambedkar written by Ramesh Patange, kept saying that he agrees with the author that the blot of Partition needs to be washed.
Ramesh has written in his book titled Sangharsh Maha Manav Ka (Page 173): “The loyalty to the nation of those who have been left behind is doubtful. Pakistan’s creator Mohammad Ali Jinnah has left a mark on their face, which can never be wiped off. They cannot be trusted.”
In the presence of journalists, Paswan read aloud the passage in Hindi, asserting that there was nothing objectionable per se.
Sangh parivar hawks like Praveen Togadia are known for making inflammatory comments but rarely has any Union minister, that too a person in charge of minority affairs, openly endorsed such views.
Asked repeatedly if it was proper for a Union minister to make such references about a particular community, he said: “The Muslims are part of India. But they need to introspect about the past. We in the BJP are doing our best to bring them to the national mainstream.”
He cited the government’s stand on the Iraq war to claim that it was more “sincere” than Pakistan towards the minority community.
“Look at our stand on the war on Iraq. We condemned President (George W.) Bush when Pakistan looked the other way. The Muslims should judge who is more sincere,” Paswan said at the state guesthouse hours before he released Ramesh’s book published by Archana Publications, allied to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Paswan, in his zeal to defend the author and the book, glossed over for a moment the fact that the occasion was meant to mark Ambedkar’s 112th birth anniversary.
The minister said he agreed with Arun Shourie’s critical comments about Ambedkar in his book Worshipping False Gods. “We may disagree with the title of Shourie’s book but his views about Ambedkar were correct,” Paswan said.
However, he was at pains to claim that Ambedkar had shared the stand of the Jan Sangh – the precursor to the BJP – on several issues like opposition to the creation of Pakistan and the Hindu Code Bill (an aborted legislation mooted by Jawaharlal Nehru to reform the Hindu society).