Mother India: “By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.”
Hi, Everyone! In 1937, the Congress came right out and revealed its goal of total control in the governing of India. They had the Hindus in their pocket, and were under the impression that the Muslims would also happily crawl in there. Well, they certainly had a rude awakening!
In his book, History of the Freedom Movement in India, vol. III (hence forth in all the posts to be called HFMI, vol. III) page 551-552, R. C. Majumdar, a noted historian, writes:
“The result of the elections held in 1937 belied the claims of both the Congress and the Muslim League. . . . It was a clear indication that the Congress organization had no contact with the Muslim masses and had very little influence over them. The Congress could not therefore advance any reasonable claim to represent the Muslims. . . .
It is not a little curious that the Muslim League had a specially bad record of election success in those Provinces like Bengal, the Punjab, Sindh and North-West Frontier Province where the Muslims formed the majority community, and fared much better in the Provinces which had a strong Hindu majority with a significant and vocal minority.”
[Point to note:
· the Muslims of the very provinces which went to Pakistan in 1947 had happily voted for nationalist Muslim parties in 1937. . . !
A Central Federation at this time would have bound them to a united India.]
“The reason is that the Muslim League had no special positive programme which distinguished it from the other parties and had no local influence in any Province. It throve only on its assumed character as a bulwark of defence against Hindu attack. The Provinces with a Muslim majority had no genuine fear of such an attack, and were not therefore susceptible to the propaganda of the League.
It is only when the Muslim masses learnt to look upon the problem from an all-India perspective that the Muslim League emerged as the most powerful Muslim organization. . . .
The credit of Jinnah lies in the fact that he succeeded in developing this political consciousness among the Muslims within an incredibly short time. . . .”
And to do that, he too brought religion into politics.
“He touched the chord of religious feelings of the Muslims which have always proved a potent factor in Muslim politics. ‘The Mullahs of the countryside were soon up in arms against the Congress propagandist . . .’ The Congress mass contact movement, which had made some headway, collapsed under the attack of the Mullahs.”
To continue (HFMI, vol. III, page 551-552):
“The intransigence of the Congress high command helped its growth. They took their stand on the theory that the Congress represented the whole of India . . . They ignored the Muslim League as having no influence over the masses and only representing a ‘microscopic minority’ of the Muslims . . . But they discounted the idea that there may be a national urge among the Muslims limited to their own community . . . and though a nationalist may disapprove such a development, a Statesman can ignore it at his peril.
Jawaharlal Nehru in particular, among the Congress leaders must be held highly guilty in this respect. . . .
It [Congress] did not learn the obvious lesson of coming to terms with the Muslim League till by its [Congress’s] folly the League had attained a position when it could dictate its own terms, and demanded Pakistan as the only basis of settlement.”
This is how R. C. Majumdar wraps it up in a nutshell:
· “In 1937 his [Nehru’s] outright rejection of Jinnah’s offer of Congress-League Coalition Ministry ruined the last chance of a Hindu-Muslim agreement.”
So much for the much-touted Congress Hindu-Muslim unity demand of the Congress. . . !
· As I said, making a demand is one thing but without follow-up by action it is just so much hot air.
But what exactly was it that Congress and Nehru did?
Find out tomorrow!