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Darjeeling devours stocks

india Updated: Aug 27, 2009 22:35 IST
Amitava Banerjee
Amitava Banerjee
Hindustan Times
Jaswant’s book

Jaswant Singh’s controversial expulsion from the Bharatiya Janata Party has turned his tome on Partition into a bestseller across the country. His constituency is no exception.

The Darjeeling Member of Parliament’s Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence is flying off the shelves.

“Initially the publisher had sent us three books. People used to leaf through the pages but none of the copies got sold. The day news of the controversy broke, all three books were sold within hours,” said Indra Mani Dewan of the Oxford Book Stores.

Dewan said all the 30 copies that the store has ordered now have been booked, in advance, with full payment.

In Kalimpong, Anil Kaul of Kashinath and Sons is yet to receive the 300 copies that the bookstore has ordered from the publishers.

The book, priced at Rs 695, has struck a chord with college students. “Our MP had the guts to defy the BJP. This is something that the youth look for in a leader— the courage to back one’s expression,” said Anubhav, a student.

Another reason fuelling the sales could be Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Darjeeling connection.

His second wife Ratanbai, or Rutti as she was affectionately called, hailed from the hill town.

After the death of his family members including his first wife, mother and later his father, Jinnah visited Darjeeling in April 1916, accompanying his friend Sir Dinshaw Manockjee Petit.

It was here that Jinnah met Dinshaw's only daughter Ratanbai. She was 16 and he nearing 40. Ruttee developed an instant fondness for the charismatic leader who used to help her with her French.

One evening over tea, Jinnah asked Sir Dinshaw’s views on inter-communal marriages. A cosmopolitan Parsee, he said he wasn’t opposed to the concept. Emboldened, Jinnah asked for Ruttie’s hand.

Taken aback, Dinshaw refused bluntly and forbade his daughter from meeting Jinnah.

The couple waited for the two years to be legally wedded. On April 18, 1918, after Ruttie had turned 18, she converted to Islam at Calcutta's Jamia Mosque. The next day, Jinnah and Ruttie married at a quiet ceremony at Jinnah’s Bombay residence. Nobody from Ruttie's family attended.