Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, is among around 200 individuals featured as eminent persons (vyakti vishesh) with roots in Gujarat, in an exhibition organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at the venue of their annual three-day meet to begin Friday. Jinnah’s family belonged to Moti Paneli village in Rajkot district of Saurashtra.
When asked about the mention of Jinnah and other people who are not aligned to the ideology of the Sangh, Shirish Kashikar, coordinator of the three-day event said: “We have added names of people who have contributed towards Bharat during that time. Just because it is an RSS event, it doesn’t mean that we will include only those people who are aligned to our ideology.”
Among the others featured are father of India’s space programme Vikram Sarabhai, philanthropist Azim Premji, cricketer Vinoo Mankad, as well as Bollywood actors Parveen Babi, Haribhai Jariwala popularly known as Sanjeev Kumar and Dimple Kapadia.
The RSS will organise its annual “All India Representatives Meet” at Shree Nishkalanki Narayan Tirthdham Prernapith in Piraña village of Ahmedabad from March 11 to March 13. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Bharatiya Janata Party president JP Nadda will attend the three-day closed-door events where 1,248 representatives of the Sangh Parivar from across the country will participate.
To acquaint the guest representatives with the culture and history of the state, RSS Gujarat Prant has organised an exhibition gallery depicting various art forms, handicraft and embroidery work, folk culture, performing arts, wildlife, and events of historical importance that took place in Gujarat.
At the exhibition, a giant billboard depicting pictures of 200 eminent personalities who have their roots in Gujarat has been put up that includes Mahatma Gandhi, UK-based MP Dadabhai Naoroji, business tycoons Dhirubhai Ambani, Ratan Tata and Azim Premji, social entrepreneur Verghese Kurien, Gujarat Vidyapith chancellor and founder of SEWA Ela Bhatt, telecom inventor Sam Pitroda and danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai.
Sandwiched between freedom fighters Shamaldas Gandhi who formed the Arzi Hukumat against the Nawab of Junagadh and Sardarsinh Rana is the photo of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
The caption on his picture reads, “A barrister who was initially a staunch (chust) patriot, later the creator of India’s partition on basis of religion (sic).” In 2009, the Gujarat government had banned a book by expelled BJP leader and former Union minister Jaswant Singh titled “Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence” for allegedly showing Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in poor light.
In 2005, LK Advani as deputy prime minister, visited Jinnah’s mausoleum in Karachi and praised him as “a great man.” The caption for Parveen Babi reads, “the one who introduced Nawabi Nazakat (royal delicacy) to the big screen” and for Surat-born Sanjeev Kumar, the caption reads, “Bejod Film Kalakar (unmatched film artist)”.
Explaining the concept behind the exhibition, Kashikar said: “Representatives of the Sangh who come from the northeast, West Bengal, or the southern states will now be acquainted with the history and culture of Gujarat through this exhibition. We have displayed the social, political, and economical aspects of the state from historical times, focusing on unique features.” We have also tried to highlight the stories of unsung heroes, especially of Bhil and Adivasi communities of Gujarat who fought against the British regime but were neglected in our history books, he added.