Jaswant Singh, the author, owes it to the BJP — the party has done what the best sales team would have struggled to pull off.
By expelling him from the party, it has given his book, Jinnah — India, Partition, Independence, instant fame. Got people curious. And these curious people are heading for bookstores.
In bookshops around India and the subcontinent, the book, which generated a lot of heat even before its release on Monday, the news of party’s unease with Singh’s views on Mohammed Ali Jinnah pushed up the sales.
“In the last three days, we have sold 100 copies,” said the staff at Bahri Lal and Sons, a bookstore in Khan Market. The Crosswords, another bookstore, sold two copies on Wednesday.
The publisher, Rupa, has already had four print runs. “We have the third order from Pakistan in the last two days. There are queries from Bangladesh as well,” Managing Director RK Mehra said.
How will history judge the book? For Mehra — the Jinnah book is Rupa’s eighth Jaswant Singh book — it is simply “a well documented and researched book. History will judge whether he was right or wrong.”
Narinder Singh Sarila, a former ambassador who was also the ADC to Lord Louis Mountbatten, viceroy of India at the time of Partition, however, differed.
He had given the British government's declassified documents on Partition to Singh “which were disregarded. No blame was attached to the British”. “What Jaswant Singh has written is not just distortion of history but perversion of history,” columnist Inder Malhotra said. Jinnah was not a lily-white innocent in relation to Partition. He and the British were principally responsible. The Congress leaders also made mistakes, he said.
“However, I defend Jaswant's right to say what he feels.” Why did the BJP take such a drastic action against him is for the party to explain, he said. “My guess is that the BJP is incensed by his criticism of Sardar Patel, its icon. Also the expulsion perhaps diverts attention from the party's pathetic plight”.