August 19, 2009 / 2:39 PM / 9 years ago

India opposition party expels member for praising Jinnah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s main opposition party on Wednesday expelled former finance minister Jaswant Singh for praising Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah in a book.

India's former Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh speaks during a news conference in New Delhi July 25, 2006. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files

The decision to expel Singh came after the release of his book “Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence” which the Bharatiya Janata Party said did not represent the views of the party.

“Thirty years of my political life with the BJP and (being expelled) on this note … saddened me and on the ground for writing a book, that saddened me even more, immensely more,” a visibly upset Singh, a founding member of the party, told reporters.

“The day India starts questioning thought, it starts questioning reading, writing, publishing, we are entering a very very dark alley ladies and gentlemen,” he said.

The decision to expel Singh came at a BJP brainstorming session in Shimla called to review affairs of the party following its defeat in this year’s general election.

“The important role of M.A. Jinnah in the division of India, which led to a lot of dislocation and destabilisation of millions of people, is too well-known. We cannot wish away this painful part of our history,” the party said in a statement.

Party patriarch and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani triggered a controversy in 2005 by describing Jinnah as “secular”.

Advani was forced to step down as head of the BJP after intense criticism from right-wing party members who see Jinnah as the cause for a bitter division of the country in 1947 that led to loss of many lives in rioting.

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