New Delhi: Days after triggering a controversy by saying that India and Pakistan would have remained united had Muhammad Ali Jinnah become the Prime Minister as desired by Mahatma Gandhi and not Jawaharlal Nehru, the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has now apologized for saying so.
Speaking to ANI, the Dalai Lama said, ”My statement has created a controversy. If I said something wrong, I apologise.”
Dalai Lama had kick-started a new political storm by saying, ”Mahatma Gandhi ji was very much willing to give the prime ministership to Muslim League leader Jinnah but Pandit Nehru refused.”
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama made these remarks while addressing an event at the Goa Institute of Management.
Speaking on the occasion, the 14th Dalai Lama said that Mahatma Gandhi was ‘very much willing’ to give the leadership to Jinnah but Nehru’s self-centred attitude resulted in the mistake.
“Mistakes always happen. Now, look at India. I think Mahatma Gandhi ji was very much willing to give prime ministership to Jinnah. But Pandit Nehru refused. I think Pandit Nehru’s was a little bit self-centred,” he said.
Nehru, who was a wise man, made a mistake since he harboured the ambition of becoming India’s first Prime Minister, he suggested.
“Pandit Nehru, I know very well, was a very experienced person, very wise, but sometimes mistakes happen,” he said.
The Dalai Lama stressed that had the wish of Mahatma Gandhi been fulfilled then India-Pakistan would have remained united today.
The Tibetan spiritual leader has been living in exile in India since he fled Chinese forces in 1959.
“I had a lot of discussion with Nehru. On one occasion, Nehru told me that America will not go to war with China to liberate Tibet… And, he told me that sooner or later you will have to discuss the issue with the Chinese government. So in 1974, we decided not to seek independence. But history is history,” the Dalai Lama said.
During the event, he also appealed to Indian Muslims to make efforts to reduce Shia-Sunni conflicts that are prevalent in some other countries and asserted that Islam is a religion of peace.
The ruling BJP latched on to the issue and used Dalai Lama’s remarks as a tool to attack Congress and blamed if for the Partition.
Since its inception, the BJP leadership has been of the view that Nehru’s political ambitions were to be blamed for the creation of Pakistan and the riots which followed soon after the Partition.