Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh has said Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah was "demonised" by India even though it was Jawaharlal Nehru, whose belief in a centralised system, had led to the partition.
Jaswant, whose book Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence will be released on Monday, also said Indian Muslims are treated as aliens.
"Oh yes, because he created something out of nothing and single-handedly he stood against the might of the Congress party and against the British who didn't really like him. Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian. Why don't we recognise that? Why don't we see (and try to understand) why he called him that," Singh said in an interview when asked whether he viewed Jinnah as a great man.
He said he did not subscribe to the popular "demonisation" of Jinnah.
Singh, a former external affairs minister, feels India had misunderstood Jinnah and made a demon out of him.
Contrary to popular perception, Singh feels it was not Jinnah but Nehru's "highly centralised polity" that led to the partition of India.
Asked if he was concerned that Nehru's heirs and the Congress party would be critical of the responsibility he was attributing to Nehru for partition, Singh said, "I am not blaming anybody. I am not assigning blame. I am simply recalling what I have found as the development of issues and events of that period."
Singh contested the popular Indian view that Jinnah was the villain of partition or the man principally responsible for it. Maintaining that this view was wrong, he said, "It is. It is not borne out of the facts, we need to correct it."
He feels Jinnah's call for Pakistan was "a negotiating tactic" to obtain "space" for Muslims "in a reassuring system" where they would not be dominated by the Hindu majority.
Singh also said if the final decisions had been taken by Mahatma Gandhi, Rajaji or Maulana Azad -- rather than Nehru -- a united India would have been attained. "Yes, I believe so. We could have (attained an united India)," Singh said.
Singh said the widespread opinion that Jinnah was against Hindus is mistaken.
When told that his views on Jinnah may not be to the liking of his party, he replied, "I did not write this book as a BJP parliamentarian. I wrote this book as an Indian. This is not a party document. My party knows I have been working on this."
Singh also spoke about Indian Muslims who, he said, "have paid the price of Partition". In a particularly outspoken answer, he said India treats them as "aliens".
"Look into the eyes of the Muslims who live in India and if you truly see the pain with which they live, to which land do they belong? We treat them as aliens...without doubt Muslims have paid the price of partition. They could have been significantly stronger in a united India...of course Pakistan and Bangladesh won't like what I am saying."