The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani dons shield of swami

Karachi, June 5: Amid calls for resignation from Sangh parivar hawks, Lal Krishna Advani today rooted his remarks on Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the wisdom of the late Swami Ranganathanandaji.

Advani recalled that the Swami, who headed the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, had described Jinnah’s speech to the constituent assembly on August 11, 1947, as “a classic exposition of a secular state”.

Yesterday, Advani had described Jinnah as a “secularist” and “ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity”, raising the hackles of the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which asked for his resignation. The Sangh said it would seek an explanation.

In a long speech at the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations, Economic Affairs and Law, Advani tried to legitimise the remarks he penned on Jinnah on a visit to the Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum by linking them to his interaction with the Swami in April.

Advani recounted that the Swami had asked him to read Jinnah’s speech. The Swami was quoted as saying: “It is a classic exposition of a secular state, one which guarantees every citizen’s freedom to practise his or her religion but the state shall not discriminate between one citizen and another on the basis of religion.”

Advani cited two reasons for referring to the “historic” speech: his association with the Swami, whom he called one of India’s “towering personalities”, and his visit to the Katas Raj temples on the Islamabad-Lahore route two days ago.

After quoting portions of Jinnah’s speech, Advani said its content ' equality and freedom of faith ' was in sync with India’s view of a “secular or a non-theocratic” state.

“There is no place for bigotry, intolerance and discrimination in the name of religion in such a state. And there can certainly be no place, much less state protection, for religious extremism and terrorism in such a state,” he said.

He exhorted India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to pursue this “ideal” and said the restoration of the Katas Raj temples was a “good beginning”.

The second part of Advani’s speech elaborated on his statement in Lahore that the creation of Pakistan was an unalterable reality, which, too, had angered elements in the Sangh parivar.

“The Partition cannot be undone, because' the creation of India and Pakistan as two separate and sovereign nations is an unalterable reality of history. However, some of the follies of Partition can be undone and must be undone.”


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