MJ Akbar, who was forced to resign as Union minister in October 2018 after accusations of sexual harassment from several women, has authored a new book titled
Gandhi’s Hinduism: The Struggle Against Jinnah’s Islam that will release in January.
The 450-page book is a uniquely intimate glimpse of the Indian political landscape in the lead up to the tumultuous times of 1947, capturing the events and people behind the partition of India, according to publisher Bloomsbury.
The crux of the book, gathered from select excerpts that CNBCTV18.com reviewed, is an “epic confrontation between Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan over the partition of India after the country was liberated from British rule". Describing Gandhi as a devout Hindu, Akbar pits the Father of the Nation, who “believed faith could nurture the civilizational harmony of India” against Jinnah, “a political Muslim rather than a practising believer” determined to carve up a syncretic subcontinent in the name of Islam.
Gandhi and Jinnah: Diverse Depictions
The unflattering portrayal of Jinnah, holding him responsible for carving out “multi-faith India in the name of one religion, Islam”, is likely to warm the cockles of the hearts of the mandarins of Akbar’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological fount, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
But what about the depiction of Gandhi as a Hindu protagonist? “Gandhi simply did not believe in the partition of India,” Akbar writes, adding that “no one had fought the revanchist concept of an Islamic Pakistan with more conviction and consistency than Gandhi …”.
Given that Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu radical who held him responsible for the partition, it will be interesting to see how the book is received by the right wing in India.
Gandhi, The Hindu
The book also shines a light on Gandhi’s religious beliefs, which could be represented as completely oppugnant to the divisionary politics that the opposition and critics accuse that the BJP espouses, especially in the light of the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens. “Gandhi’s pride in Hinduism lay in its philosophy of tolerance. He could not fathom why an Indian Muslim needed to be in a different country to remain a Muslim … ”, writes Akbar, a Rajya Sabha MP representing the BJP from Madhya Pradesh.
Akbar is the author of books such as
India: The Siege Within, The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity and Nehru: The Making of India, among others.
He was the most high-profile casualty of the growing #MeToo
movement in India last year and resigned as junior foreign minister. The women accused Akbar of inappropriate behaviour during his previous career as a journalist.
He denied the accusations and filed a criminal lawsuit against one of the women, journalist Priya Ramani, for defaming him. The case is on-going in a Delhi court.
Bloomsbury said the publication of
Gandhi’s Hinduism: The Struggle Against Jinnah’s Islam will be supported by a huge national marketing and publicity campaign. Launch events have been planned in key cities across India, it said.