The right-wing BJP has sacrificed its senior leader Jaswant Singh at the altar of political expediency. His views that the founder of Pakistan M. A. Jinnah was a great and secular man and one who had been wrongly projected as the villain behind partition proved to be too much for the 'saffron party' to stomach.
Jaswant Singh's praise for Jinnah the BJP's leadership concluded undermined one of the Sangh Parivar's key organising principles. In the 1940s the development of the RSS (the BJP's ideological forbearer) was 'fuelled by a desire of some Hindus to organize themselves in reaction to the growing mobilization of Muslim separatist movements', like presumably, the Jinnah led Muslim League.
With Jaswant questioning this basic hypothesis in his book(Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence)he has in a sense questioned the RSS's and by extension the BJP's raison d'etre. No wonder senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley justified his expulsion by saying, "Jaswant questioned BJP's core beliefs''.
The expulsion prompted Jaswant Singh to self-righteously lament that his ouster signifies the closing of the Indian mind and he chose to portray the BJP's decision as one that militates against the best democratic tradition of intellectual discourse. "I think, in Indian polity and political parties, if aspects like thinking, introspection, discussion, reading and writing end, it will not be in the interest of the country."
Rhetoric aside, the sentiment behind Jaswant's parting shot is unexceptionable and his expulsion could well prove to be a point of inflection for the politics of the BJP and should be a point of debate for those who are concerned that the space for reasoned debate in India's political culture is rapidly shrinking.
Dialogue and inquiry are vital to political institutions, especially political parties because they are in themselves a means to an end. A means through which people express themselves to ensure the democratisation of governance.
By expelling Jaswant Singh without even the pretence of a trial the BJP has signalled to others within its ranks that debate is at par with dissidence and therefore won't be tolerated. The consequence is easy to see: The party will crustify ideologically. An ossified BJP is in danger of drifting that much further away from the fast changing political reality of today's India. In such a censorious environment one wonders whether there is any real point to the 'Chintan' (brainstorming) that is supposed to be going on in the 'baithak' (meet) in Shimla.