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Some Portrayals of Jinnah: A Critique

by Anil Nauriya, 24 July

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From: Minority Identities and the Nation-State, by D.L.Sheth and Gurpreet Mahajan (eds) Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999. Pages 73-112

Anil Nauriya

The rise of Hindutva, particularly since the eighties, is paralleled by strenuous contemporaneous attempts by writers like Ayesha Jalal and H.M. Seervai to present a sanitized version of the politics of M.A. Jinnah. Such accounts have had an appreciable circulation. Some of the conceptual questions arising on the above basis and having implications for the notion of ‘minority’ and ‘minority politics’ are dealt with in this paper.

Part I of the essay sets out the idea of community-for-itself, a conception which lies at the core of the later politics of both Savarkar and Jinnah. Part II examines the extent to which such politics may be seen as nationalist politics; while Part III discusses the parity theory—that is, the notion that Jinnah wanted parity rather than partition. Part IV examines the claim that League politics involved an espousal of ‘civil rights’ or ‘minority rights’ as against communalist demands. Parts V and VI are concerned with two occasionally conflicting explanations and descriptions of Muslim League politics that are currently in circulation. The first depicts this politics as a reaction to the pre-freedom Congress; the second seeks to set out League demands as being ‘secular’ in nature. This usage is ostensibly in the sense of ‘being of this world’, but is loaded with other implications which are also critically examined.

Essentially, it is argued that, as with Savarkar, few of Jinnah’s political positions till the partition of India and formation of Pakistan can find a natural place in a secular constitution. Some of these may even serve to legitimize a Hindutva framework. In fact, many of Jinnah’s ideological positions are comparable to, where they are not drawn from, Hindutva. It is, therefore, not logically possible to counter Hindutva from a Jinnahesque political stance. Those who have been reproducing the standard Jalal—Seervai arguments are, we submit, on a mistaken track. Without an upright critique of the politics of the Muslim League, it will not be possible logically or adequately to counter Hindutva. The notion that Jinnah represented the position of the Muslims at large prior to 1947 tends to be accepted without question, As a consequence writers tend to go soft on Jinnah and his politics lest they be understood as having been harsh to Muslims as a whole; also, with the exception of a few prominent ones, those Muslims who struggled for Indian freedom unconditionally, or as plain Indian nationalists, tend to be ignored in such writings.

I. The Community-for-Itself Idea

The 1928 All Parties Conference at which the Nehru Report on framing a constitution for India was discussed is sometimes presented as marking a ‘parting of the ways’ between Jinnah and the Congress [1]. In fact, matters were more complicated and there was more than one turning point. The important issue at this stage was to obtain an agreement that would command wide support. A crucial event that occurred immediately after was the meeting of the Council of the All India Muslim League, which took place in March 1929 at Delhi. This meeting has perhaps not received from historians and other writers the attention that it deserves [2].

The Council of the League met in Delhi on 29 March 1929, on the eve of the open session of the League. The 20th Session of the All India Muslim League began on 30 March 1929 with Jinnah in the Chair. On the previous day, the Council of the ‘Jinnah faction’ of the League had appointed a Committee to consider Jinnah’s draft resolution and to report upon it the next day. This Committee consisted of Jinnah, Maulana Azad, Maulana Mohamed Ali, Malik Barkat Ali, Nawab Ismail Khan, Dr Shafaat Ahmed Khan and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew.

The open session of the Muslim League was attended by Maulana Azad, T.A.K. Sherwani and S.A. Brelvi. Their participation and the passage of an agreed resolution moved by Abdul Rahman Ghazi, in the subjects committee was a development of great significance. The resolution accepted the Nehru Report, subject to five modifications, one of which was proposed by Brelvi. Dr Mohd. Alam was also present at this session. The resolution which was passed in the subjects committee was also passed in the open session but in the absence of Jinnah. Having been based on approval also by Azad, Sherwani and Brelvi, the Ghazi resolution signalled the possible evolution of a position between that of the Congress and the League.

The notion that the Congress was set against all modifications in the Nehru Report and that the All Parties Conference in December 1928 was the turning point is put somewhat into question by the adoption of this resolution by the Muslim League in the presence of Azad, Brelvi and Sherwani. December 1928 was not the only ‘turning point’ and not necessarily the most significant one. A reason why an agreement repeatedly proved elusive was the search, perhaps mistaken, for an agreement which would have the backing of the larger section of the Muslims, apart from the other communities.

The March 1929 Resolution was to be stillborn [3]. Jinnah, on his return to the open session of the League adjourned the house, giving the rowdyism that had taken place at the open session as the reason for the adjournment. This rowdyism also signalled the beginning of a new phase in League politics.

Choudhry Khaliquzzaman has shed light on this:

Mr Jinnah was very late in coming to the session as he was negotiating with the Sir Shafi group their acceptance of the fourteen points of the All Parties’ Muslim Conference and in the meantime we voted Dr Alam to take the Chair. Immediately after the election of the President, discussion on the Nehru Report started and was in full swing when Rafi Qidwai [sic] called me outside to inform me that there was a danger that there would be a mass raid on the hall. Hardly had he finished talking when hundreds of people from outside knocked down the doors of the hall and threw out the supporters of the Nehru Report one by one, clearing the hall. Mr Jinnah came in soon after. ... The mob which had burst into the hall was led by Sayed Shamsul Hasan, Assistant Secretary of the Muslim League, who is still alive in Karachi. Some of those who had been thrown out of the hall attributed it to the policy of the Muslim League High Command and started thinking of forming a Muslim Nationalist Party [4].

It is significant that Khaliquzzaman, in holding Shamsul Hasan responsible for breaking up the meeting, did so while Shamsul Hasan was still living. The book was published in 1961.

Khaliquzzaman has also given an account of the contents of the resolution passed in the open session after the supporters of the Nehru Report had been removed from the hall, but this does not match the account given by Maulana Azad, presumably because Khaliquzzaman had, as he himself recounts, been called out by Rafi Ahmed Kidwai while the proceedings were going on.

Maulana Azad’s detailed and contemporaneous account leaves no scope for ambiguity. This is what he says:

The Council meeting was then resumed, and a Committee, consisting of representatives of the three sections of the League, was appointed to draft an agreed resolution regarding the Nehru Constitution. In the Subjects Committee meeting I made it quite clear that I personally did not consider modifications in the Nehru Constitution necessary. But, realising that a large section of the members of the League considered modifications to be essential for safeguarding the rights and interests of the community, I and my co-workers were prepared not to come in the way of a united and agreed resolution being passed by the League.

Mr Jinnah and Mr Mahomed Ali said that they could not agree to any resolution which in expressing Muslim demands, did not reject the Nehru constitution. We considered our position. Though naturally we could not go to this length, we were prepared to agree to any draft that was acceptable to the largest majority. On this basis, Mr Ghazi Abdur Rahman’s resolution was framed and accepted by us and carried in the Subjects Committee by 84 to 7 votes. Meanwhile, all possible efforts were made by those representing the Shafi League and the Delhi Conference to obstruct the work of the Subjects Committee. These dilatory tactics were adopted because they realised the overwhelming force in the League supporting the Nehru constitution. They sought every means to add to their own numbers without success. On the morning of the 30th March, I was informed by several reliable citizens of Delhi that attempts would be made to break up the session of the League and that for this purpose a large number of visitors’ tickets were sold to secure admission of rowdies in the League meeting. Thus, on the 31st March, when the session of the League commenced, a large number of visitors entered and created scenes which have been fully described by Dr Alam in his statement. From all that I have said it would be clear to every impartial mind that we did all we could to make it easy for the members of the Shafi party and of the Delhi conference to join the League. If an agreement could not be brought about the responsibility should be laid at their door and not at the door of those who were prepared to welcome them. One thing clearly emerges from the session of the League, namely, that there is an overwhelming majority in it in favour of the Nehru constitution and that opponents who have no argument to prevail against the majority, tried to resort to these deplorable tactics in order to gain their object (emphasis added) [5].

The proceedings which took place despite this sponsored rowdyism were rejected by the League Secretary as well as by the Delhi Conference party [6]. Thus the rowdies succeeded in their object.

If there was a parting of ways between Muslims who wished to participate in the struggle for freedom and those who were inclined wholly to take a community-for-itself separatist view, was this not a significant turning point? At this stage Jinnah succumbed to the pressures of the Shafi faction of the League rather than take the hand extended by Maulana Azad, Brelvi, and T.A.K. Sherwani.

Jinnah now formulated his future strategy based on the community-for-itself idea. This is the notion, common to Hindutva, that political strategies must be related to specific religious communities; that religion may be the very organizing principle of a political party and that obligations towards others outside these communities are not to be recognized and may even be denied. This is the framework of the later Jinnah and the later Savarkar, or the sectarian framework. While the Jinnah and the Savarkar components of this framework are formulated from different sides of the tunnel—the minority side and the majority side—the conception is essentially the same. Each denies its obligations towards a civil society larger than his own defined community. Each component of this framework justifies and rationalizes the other by its very existence.

This thinking, which was to mark Jinnah’s approach to the end, is reflected in his observations in a letter which he wrote to Abdul Matin Chowdhury on 2 March 1932:

The British want our cooperation and support, it can only be on our safeguards plus responsibility at the centre being agreed to. If Hindus want our cooperation and support it can only be on their agreeing to our safeguards and self-Govt. within the British Commonwealth of nations. We cannot support one or the other except on these terms. If we are not wanted by either, let them do what they like and we shall not be a consenting party. I am sure they cannot ignore 80 millions specially, if they stand together to organise themselves [7].

The kernel of Jinnah’s future strategy is formulated by this time and this seems not nationalistic, as claimed by certain writers, but entirely sectarian and religious-community-based. It sought to treat the Muslim community as a unit apart from the rest of civil society and the country; it would negotiate separately for what Jinnah saw as its ‘safeguards’. These were, as we have shown, substantially accepted by the Resolution as passed in the League Subjects Committee in March 1929 to which Brelvi, Sherwani and Azad were party and which would have involved modification of the Nehru Report. But even these proceedings were rejected by the Jinnah faction of the League.

The meaning of this strategy, formulated in Jinnah’s letter to Abdul Matin Chowdhury, is that the ‘community’, as envisaged by Jinnah, would support whichever side assured what he saw as ‘safeguards’. The fly in the ointment was this: Any ‘safeguard’ agreed to by the Congress would also be conceded in more than ample measure by the British. Who would the ‘community’ support then? Besides, the ‘safeguards’ themselves appear to have had a rolling character. So by the time agreement is possible over one set of safeguards, the minimum negotiating position adopted by Jinnah moves ahead to another set of conditions.

II. Was this Nationalist Politics?

After the 1937 elections Jinnah appears to have raised the question of a ‘settlement’ [8]. Following upon the messages, letters and telegrams exchanged between Jinnah and Gandhi, talks started between Subhas Chandra Bose as the Congress President, and Jinnah. Seervai describes the solution sought by Jinnah at this time as nationalist [9]. This is ironical as Jinnah’s demand was invariably posited on undermining and questioning the position of the nationalist Muslims and also undermining the nationalist character of the Congress. This was an unrealistic stance and the Congress could not reasonably have been expected to agree to give in to it, a fact Jinnah must surely have known.

(There has been some debate about the term ‘nationalist Muslims’; for reasons which we consider relevant and sufficient we shall continue to use this expression. By ‘nationalist Muslims’ we refer to those Muslims who participated in the movement for Indian freedom without seeking to strike bargains. And even if they did bargain, the outcome of the bargaining process was not a condition for participation in the struggle for freedom. Call this nationalism, or love of freedom. Whatever term one uses. Congress Muslims is not an adequate substitute for nationalist Muslim. Allah Baksh was not a Congressman, but he was a perfect nationalist.)

The same problem arose in the correspondence and discussion which now ensued between Bose as Congress President and Jinnah. The Congress President handed a note to Jinnah on 14 May 1938 summarizing the main positions in the talks that had taken place between them thus far.

This note recorded the Muslim League’s insistence that it be regarded:

as the authoritative and representative organisation of the Indian Muslims and the Congress as the authoritative and representative organisation of the solid body of Hindu opinion [10].

The note recorded also the Congress response:

The Congress cannot possibly consider itself and function as if it represented one community only even though that might be the majority community in India. Its doors must, inevitably be open to all communities. ...

At the same time the Congress is perfectly willing to confer and cooperate with other organisations which represent minority interests [11].

It was added that the Congress would be bound to confer also with other Muslim organizations which had cooperated with it in the past. [12]

On 6 June 1938, Jinnah forwarded to Bose the reaction of the Muslim League’s Executive Council to the note handed over by Bose on 14 May. The reaction was expressed in the form of three resolutions. The first stated that it was not possible for the League to ‘treat or negotiate with the Congress the question of Hindu-Muslim settlement except on the basis that the Muslim League is the authoritative and representative organization of the Mussalmans of India.’ The second resolution asserted that ‘it is not desirable to include any Muslim in the personnel of the proposed committee that may be appointed by the Congress.’ And the third resolution declared that the Muslim League would consult with other minorities and interests as well [13].

Bose placed this reply before the Congress Working Committee in July 1938 and wrote to Jinnah on 25 July, pointing out inter alia, that many Muslim organizations were associated with the Congress and that the Frontier Province

is over-whelmingly Muslim and is solidly with the Congress. ... The Working Committee, therefore, hopes that the League Council will not ask the Congress to do the impossible. Is it not enough that the Congress is not only willing but eager to establish the friendliest relations with the League and come to an honourable understanding over the much vexed Hindu- Muslim question? [14]

As regards the third resolution, Bose pointed out that the League membership was open to Muslims only. He, however, hoped that it would be possible to proceed further with the negotiations.

If it is assumed that Jinnah stood for a ‘nationalist’ solution, is it not surprising that he persisted to the end, assisted by the colonial rulers, with the demand that, as Bose put it, the Indian National Congress ‘do the impossible’? and reduce itself to a Hindu organization? Also, in view of the above exchanges, Seervai’s suggestion that there were no attempts or response from the Congress side at this time to arrive at a settlement, is factually incorrect.

The atmosphere of the time can also be gauged from the fact that while these talks were going on there was a physical attack on Subhas Bose by Muslim Leaguers at Brahmanbaria in Chittagong Division on 15 June 1938 in which Bose was injured. Ashrafuddin Chaudhary, the Secretary of the Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee and thirteen others were also injured in the attack. [15]

It should be marked that it is not wholly correct to place the demands made by the Muslim League at this time under the rubric of ‘safeguards’. Claims to sole spokespersonship for any community and a denial of the right of other parties equally also to represent that community go beyond the notion of ‘safeguards’. One test may be to ask whether such a demand by any communal party could be countenanced today. The notion that a religious community may be represented exclusively by a ‘sole spokesman’ in the form of a political party whose praxis would owe no political obligations to other communities is akin to the Hindutva view. The agony of the nationalist Muslims who were up against such attempts to place the entire community in one straitjacket is paralleled by the plight of those Hindus who resisted Hindutva and the recent BJP-RSS claim to represent their feeling on various matters, including the matter of places of worship and ostensible disputes regarding these.

In 1940 there were reports that Jinnah was attempting to bring together parties opposed to the Congress. These parties included the Justice Party and Dr Ambedkar’s party; Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha was also reportedly to meet Jinnah.

Gandhi welcomed the idea that parties opposed to the Congress should come together. About Jinnah’s move he commented: ‘He is thus lifting the Muslim League out of the communal rut and giving it a national character.’ He also wrote:

Such an alignment of parties is consummation devoutly to be wished. If the Quaid-i-Azam can bring about the combination, not only I but the whole of India will shout with one acclamation, ‘Long live Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah’. For he will have brought about permanent and living unity for which I am sure the whole nation is thirsting. [16]

Jinnah replied on 21 January 1940 that ‘India is not a nation, nor a country’ and that while the combination was indeed being attempted, this was ‘partly a case of “adversity bringing strange bedfellows together”.’ [17]

Soon thereafter, the Muslim League resolution of March 1940 was passed asking for Muslim-majority areas in the north-west and east to be constituted as ‘independent states’. [18]

In his speech, Jinnah said ‘It is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits, and is the cause of most of our troubles. ...’ [19]

This marked the beginning of a new phase in Indian politics. Savarkar had similarly been sharpening the ‘community-for-itself’ idea. A few months before the 1940 session of the Muslim League, Savarkar had, in December 1939, declared that Hindus were a separate nation, claiming ‘We Hindus are a nation by ourselves. ... We Hindus are marked out as an abiding Nation by ourselves.’ [20]

It is significant that the rise of the two-nation idea paralleled the rise of Nazi—fascism in Germany. The connection between these phenomena requires further exploration. That several members of the Arya Samaj, for instance, had developed a fascination for Hitler at this time is quite probable. [21] Both Hindutva and the League now tried to impose their ideology on all Hindus and Muslims. These ideologies were to encounter considerable resistance; the resistance was often glorious and where the ideologies in question were not supported by the apparatus of the colonial state, the resistance met with considerable success.

III. The Parity Theory

Let us consider three developments which overlapped, to some extent, with one another. These were the Bhulabhai-Liaquat pact of January1945; the Sapru Committee report of 1945 (The interim report became available in May 1945 and the final report was published in December 1945); and the Shimla conference of June 1945.

Negotiations had taken place between Bhulabhai Desai and Liaquat Ali Khan, leading to an agreement between the two. This agreement would have resulted in the Congress and the Muslim League joining hands in parliamentary work and parity between them. An interim government was to have been formed at the centre, subject to the Governor-General agreeing to this arrangement. In the interim government there was to be an equal number of persons nominated by the Congress and the League. There would also be representatives of minorities. The government would function within the framework of the Government of India Act, 1935 and the Working Committee of the Congress would be released from prison. [22]

The agreement was signed on 11 January 1945. On 22 January 1945, Jinnah stated in a press interview at Bombay:

My attention has been drawn to reports in a section of the Press that an agreement has been arrived at between Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan on behalf of the Muslim League and Mr Bhulabhai Desai on behalf of the Congress with the consent of Mr Gandhi and myself. I know nothing about this. There is absolutely no foundation for connecting my name with the talks which may have taken place between Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan and Mr Bhulabhai Desai. [23]

On 4 February 1945, Liaquat Ali Khan also made the supporting statement that: ‘There is no truth in the report appearing in a certain section of the Press that an agreement or a settlement has been reached between me and Mr Bhulabhai Desai.’ [24] Thus the pact between Desai and Liaquat Ali Khan was stillborn. [25]

The question that arises is that if Jinnah’s object was parity rather than partition, why did he and Liaquat Ali Khan disown this pact? This matter is not dealt with by Ayesha Jalal who in recent years has expounded the parity theory; neither does Seervai deal with it correctly as he presents an inexact account of the Desai-Liaquat Ali Khan pact. [26] Seervai does not mention that Jinnah disowned this pact within eleven days of it being entered into and that Liaquat Ali Khan also similarly did so within twenty-five days. Instead, Seervai relies on an account by Setalvad of a Congress Working Committee meeting held in the summer of 1945, long after the Bhulabhai-Liaquat pact had already been disowned by Jinnah and Liaquat. Setalvad in his account of this Working Committee meeting had said that at the meeting Gandhi had failed to speak, in support of Bhulabhai. This Working Committee meeting was not concerned with the implementation of the pact as such, but some Working Committee members had wanted to know why Bhulabhai had entered into the pact. Seervai used this account by Setalvad of the Working Committee meeting, held long after the pact was dead, to suggest by erroneous implication that Gandhi was responsible for the repudiation of the pact ignoring the fact that this pact had already been disowned by Jinnah. [27]

When the Sapru Committee was established, the Muslim League showed no interest in the matter and, in fact, alleged deprecatingly that the Committee had been established on inspiration from Gandhi. Pethick-Lawrence, who served later as Secretary of State for India in Clement Attlee’s government, wrote of the Sapru Committee in 1949: ‘Gandhi was cooperative, but Jinnah declined to have anything to do with it on the ground that he was not interested in making one constitution for India but wanted two constitutions—one for Hindu India and the other for Muslim India (“Pakistan”).’ [28]

In May 1945, the Sapru Committee made interim recommendations, including the release of all political prisoners, grant of dominion status, and the establishment of a national government. For the last mentioned proposal, the Sapru Committee also suggested that part II of the Government of India Act, 1935 be brought into force and a Ministry be installed at the Centre representing the largest single party as well as, as far as possible ‘persons commanding the confidence of other important parties in the legislature.’ [29]

In respect of the last proposal the Sapru Committee also suggested an alternative, which was that except for the Commander-in-Chief who might continue ex officio, the Executive Council should consist of Indians commanding the confidence of the parties in the Central Legislature. [30]

The interim proposals of the Sapru Committee were published by May 1945. The inter-communal aspects of the report were also conveyed to Gandhi, who appears to have approved them in May 1945. He wrote:

I considered the whole of your report as sketched to me to be an able document. But I did not interest myself in the whole of it. My interest was naturally confined to the communal question and it was wholly satisfactory. I hope you do not want me to express any opinion on the rest. [31]

The final report of the Sapru Committee, also known as the Conciliation Committee, came to be published in December 1945. The constitution-making body envisaged by the Committee was to have a total strength of 160 members. This was to be broken up as follows:

a) Hindus excluding Scheduled Castes 51
b) Muslims 51
c) Scheduled Castes 20
d) Indian Christians 7
e) Sikhs 8
f) Backward Areas and Tribes 3
g) Anglo-Indians 2
h) Special Interest Groups, namely commerce and industry, landholders, universities, labour and women 16
i) Europeans and others 2

This report was based on the condition that separate electorates would, however, be given up. In the event, however, this report was also rejected by the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha; [32] consequently nothing was done about it. The report had, however, considered parity between Muslims on one hand and Hindus other than Scheduled Castes on the other. It will be seen that the report reduced such Hindu representation to less than half of the constitution-making body. Even this could not become the basis for settlement. Dawn, the Muslim League mouthpiece, was reported to have described it as a comic opera report fit to be consigned to the WPB. [33]

Seervai writes of the report that the ‘rejection of Pakistan made it unacceptable to the Muslims and the recommendation of parity was unacceptable to a large number of Hindus.’ [34] The rejection of these proposals by the Muslim League is a matter which has however not been explained by the ‘parity theorists’, and brings into question the argument that the Muslim League wanted parity rather than partition. Seervai himself seems to admit that the ‘Muslims’ (by this he means the Muslim League) could not have accepted the Sapru Committee report as it would have meant giving up the Pakistan demand.

However, since the Muslim League did not necessarily command the confidence of the Muslims in India and probably did not do so at this stage [35] it was apparently a big gamble for it to have repudiated both the Bhulabhai-Liaquat Pact as well as the Sapru Committee report. It stands to reason that the League could not have taken this decision unless it had assurances from the British on the question of partition and Pakistan. This is a crucial point about communalism. It can seldom manoeuvre itself to the centre of the stage without external or state support. This is because communalism has an unnatural character, in that it is generally contrary to the life of the people.

The Conference called by Wavell at Shimla in 1945 and the manner in which it was conducted by him is one of the most curious episodes in modern Indian history. This Conference was held on the basis of a broadcast by Wavell in which he announced at the outset itself that there would be parity between the Congress and the Muslim League. The Congress accepted this parity. Yet the conference failed because Jinnah wanted more than just parity. He wanted a veto on the Muslims that might be nominated by the Congress to the Executive Council even within its own quota. Thus, Jinnah wanted not merely parity but parity plus—he wanted the Congress to become a Hindu mirror image of the Muslim League by depriving itself of any right to nominate a Congress Muslim. Seervai racily admitted this but did not care to consider the implications this had for his own thesis on parity versus partition. ‘After a hopeful start, it floundered on Jinnah’s insistence that all the five Muslim members of the council should be nominated by the Muslim League. Or, to put it differently, no Muslim should be included in the quota of five members allotted to the Congress.’ [36]

If a doubt arose in Seervai’s mind about the correctness of his own argument about Jinnah’s real object being parity rather than partition at this point, he did not record it. Interestingly, V.P. Menon recalls that Jinnah himself, in his speech at the conference stated:

The Muslim League could not in any circumstances agree to a constitution on any basis other than that of Pakistan; its attitude was fundamentally opposed to the Congress demand for a united India and a common central government. [37]

Menon records that Jinnah viewed the arrangement proposed by the British government as being merely of a ‘stop-gap’ nature.

Thus even after obtaining, in effect, Congress acceptance of parity with the Muslim League, Jinnah reiterated the Pakistan demand. This fact and its implications, call into serious question the entire Seervai—Jalal superstructure.

Jinnah appears to have further demanded parity in the Executive Council with ‘all other parties combined’ [38] compelling even Wavell, who had no inclination towards the Congress point of view, to record in his journal that it was difficult to see in that case why Jinnah had come to Simla ‘at all’. This would have meant that a ‘minority’ would in fact have rights greater than the ‘majority’ that is, if one were to accept the identity between the Congress and the ‘caste Hindus’ which Jinnah sought to propound; and further, if one were to accept permanent minorities and majorities defined on a religious basis.

In recognition of a fact that again brings into question Seervai’s strenuous argument, Jalal herself records that:

Wavell, no match for Jinnah in this game of bluff and counter-bluff did not see that Jinnah had come to Simla precisely to ensure its failure. [39]

It is remarkable that in spite of having acknowledged that Jinnah wished to ensure the failure of the 1945 Shimla Conference, Jalal should persist in following the parity versus partition argument.

The report of the Sapru Committee summed up its account of the June—July 1945 Conference at Shimla as follows:

Mr Jinnah told the Viceroy that the League could not agree to what he had done and ‘he was so decided that I felt it would be useless to continue the discussion. In the circumstances I did not show my selections as a whole to Mr Jinnah and there was no object in showing them to the other leaders.’ The Viceroy’s remark which immediately follows this statement, viz.: ‘The Conference has, therefore, failed’ is significant. It is a clear confession that at the time no alternative was open to him but to act on the policy that, on such a matter, the Muslim League’s veto is final irrespective of its merits. Whether this attitude was due to Lord Linlithgow’s commitment in his declaration on 8th August, 1940, or to his own commitment to the Coalition Government in London when he finally obtained their assent to his plan at the end of May or to fresh instructions received from the caretaker government during the sittings of the Conference is not a matter whose investigation is of importance for the purpose of this report. The break down caused almost universal regret and disappointment. [40]

The raising of the stakes by Jinnah and the conferring upon him of the power of veto by Wavell in the face of not merely nationalist but, in particular, Nationalist Muslim opinion suggests that the investigation which the Sapru Committee did not then consider necessary to make, is now required. The notion of ‘parity’ between religious communities in the sense used in the Jalal—Seervai discourse entails also that all political activity must thereafter take place at the level of and in the framework of such communities. Those who uncritically repeat the Jalal— Seervai arguments fail to realize that this destroys the basis of secular politics. Far from providing a safeguard to the minorities, this is the surest guarantee of their oppression because it insists that the majority be communalized and defined in terms of a religious community; that this notion of majority be imposed upon all persons belonging to the religious community concerned; and that all future political discourse be on this basis.

What Jinnah had in mind was further set out by him in the very next month. He said on 12 August 1945, ‘We are determined not to submit to any scheme of an All India Union, interim or otherwise, and we will resist any attempt to impose such a union upon us.’ [41]

On 6 December 1945, Jinnah again spoke of the division of India. He declared:

Muslim India will never accept any method of framing the Constitution of India by means of one Constitution-making body for all India in which the Mussalmans will be in a hopeless minority and the conclusions are foregone in such an Assembly. Nor will they agree to any United India Constitution, federal or otherwise, with one centre, in which again, they will be in a hopeless minority and will be at the mercy of a perennial Hindu majority domination. ... [42]

In the light of this, it is surprising that any one should argue that Jinnah had not made his intentions clear.

IV. The Civil Rights Claim

In the talks that had taken place between Gandhi and Jinnah in 1944, Gandhi suggested a solution. This involved, inter alia, a referendum of the adult population in the Muslim-majority areas on the point whether they wished to separate from India. Jinnah took the stand that unless the referendum was confined to the Muslim population, it would be ‘opposed to the fundamentals of the Lahore Resolution.’ [43]

Thus the fate of Bengal, Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province was, on this basis, to be decided regardless of the wishes of those inhabitants of these areas who were not Muslim. This implied precisely the doctrine that the RSS and other Hindu communal elements proclaim for India: that the fate or political complexion of any geographical area must be determined in accordance with the religious community which has the majority in those areas.

Jinnah’s concept would have confined the referendum to the Muslim population and would have excluded the rest from its scope. Thus in Punjab, for example, where Muslims were slightly more than 51 per cent if a referendum had been confined to the Muslims alone, 26 per cent of the Punjab population could have determined the outcome for the whole of Punjab. Seervai’s laboured defence of this position [44] sits ill with his civil libertarian claims as this clearly involves denial of the rights of a major part of the population of the state.

Seervai has drawn attention away from this by dwelling instead on an alleged distinction between Rajagopalachari’s and Gandhi’s scheme of voting in the referendum. But regardless of whether Gandhi’s or Rajaji’s scheme was to be adopted, the consequences of Jinnah’s concept of confining the referendum to one community for the civil rights of the remaining population have to be considered. This Seervai fails to do.

The matter had a bearing also on Jinnah’s earlier claim on behalf of the League, in the talks with Subhas Bose in June, 1938, to consult with other minorities and interests as well, a claim made primarily for effect, as the vote in Punjab would now not extend in Jinnah’s scheme even to the Sikhs.

In the course of the negotiations with the Cabinet Mission also, Jinnah, in his attempt to attain a larger Pakistan, took positions that seemed to reduce the theory of two nations to a logical absurdity. In his meeting with the Cabinet Mission and Wavell on 4 April 1946, Jinnah maintained that ‘... he could not agree that Calcutta could be taken away merely because it was a Hindu majority city. Much of the Hindu population of Calcutta was not indigenous but brought there from outside.’ [45] He argued further, ‘Pakistan without Calcutta would be like asking a man to live without his heart. He did not want to keep Hindus in Pakistan against their will and they could migrate but he could not reduce the area of Pakistan below the point on which the state couldlive’ (emphasis added). [46]

The notion that Pakistan must come into being, even if people are uprooted from their homes to bring this about, does not appear to be consistent with notions of democracy, civil rights or humanism. This community-for-itself idea is an extension of the position that Jinnah had taken on separate electorates namely, ‘We, Hindus and Muslims are different in everything. We cannot get together only in the ballot box.’ [47]

We have seen that earlier Jinnah had demanded that any referendum in the Muslim-majority areas, must be confined to the Muslim population. He now demanded that, in addition to this, certain non-Muslim-majority areas should be included in Pakistan regardless of their wishes and volunteered that the non-Muslim inhabitants could leave that territory if they wished. He explained his conception further: ‘What he wanted was a nucleus Muslim territory surrounded by sufficient additional territory to make it economically viable’ (emphasis added). [48]

This demand now turned the basis of the two-nation theory on its head. Earlier, during the Muslim League’s sessions, the two-nation theory had been asserted on the basis that the Muslims were a separate nation because they were the only one of the religious minorities in a majority in certain geographical areas and which were capable of supporting a separate country. It was now argued that this was not enough and that surrounding areas, even if these were not Muslim-majority areas, should be included in the proposed Pakistan. On this basis, in the ‘Terms of the offer made by the Muslim League as basis of agreement’ on 12 May 1946, Assam was described as a ‘Muslim Province’. [49] This it was possible to do only within an imperial framework.

A year later the same theme was still being pursued. Rafiq Zakaria writes:

The League president pleaded with Mountbatten on 26th April, 1947, ‘What is the use of Bengal without Calcutta: they had better remain united and independent; I am sure that they would be on friendly terms with us.’ But Nehru and Patel rejected the proposal outright.

Pakistan, thus, came to be foisted on the Muslims of the North-West and the North-East of India much against their wishes. [50]

This passage in Zakaria’s narrative suggests that the reason for Pakistan being formed was the inability of Nehru and Patel to agree to adding Calcutta to the Bengal that would be separated. This is baseless and self-contradictory because the separation envisaged would also have involved partition. Moreover, Jinnah’s statement on a United Bengal is for the purpose of resisting the application of his own principle of partition to the non-Muslim majority districts of Bengal.

Zakaria has not given a complete picture of Jinnah’s position. This is set out by Jinnah in a conversation with Sir E. Mieville four days later. On 30 April 1947, Mieville recorded this conversation in a secret letter to the Viceroy:

He said that whilst the justification for Pakistan was that it was impossible to ask two peoples with different religions, habits etc.—in fact two entirely foreign nations—to live together, this did not apply to Provinces, because the minority communities could move to their homelands if they wish to do so—i.e. Hindus to Hindustan and Muslims to Pakistan ... [51] (emphasis added).

Although Jinnah went on to say that he saw no necessity for the people to move, and to assure Mieville that there would be no discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, he repeatedly envisaged the shifting of people to their respective homelands, an idea that had been with him since at least 1941. In fact, on the same day, Jinnah issued a statement in which he said, inter alia:

It is obvious that if the Hindu minorities in Pakistan wish to emigrate and go to their homelands of Hindustan they will be at liberty to do so and vice versa those Muslims who wish to emigrate from Hindustan can do so and go to Pakistan and sooner or later exchange of population will have to take place and the Constituent Assemblies of Pakistan and Hindustan can take up the matter and subsequently the respective governments in Pakistan and Hindustan can effectively carry out the exchange of population wherever it may be necessary and feasible (emphasis added). [52]

Jinnah knew then the possible implications of the ideology he and his party were propounding and the impact it could have on the lives of millions of people.

The basic characteristics of what Jinnah and his movement represented did not, however, change after the creation of Pakistan. Soon after partition came Pakistan’s Essential Services Act. According to the telegram received by B. R. Ambedkar from Choithram Gidwani, members of the Scheduled Castes in Sind and Baluchistan were being forcibly prevented through the Essential Services Act from migrating to India. [53]

Shortly after the partition decision came, Jinnah’s speech in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in August 1947 seemed to suggest that he stood for a secular state. [54] Thus Jinnah now seemed to adopt, towards the religious minorities in Pakistan, the very position which the Indian independence movement had, through the Nehru Report in 1928, adopted towards religious minorities. As the imperial context was not there any longer within Pakistan, no occasion arose to test whether Jinnah would be prepared to concede to the principal religious minority within Pakistan, particularly in East Bengal, the same positions, rights and privileges without which he had found it impossible to function within a United India. But even this position he was, it seems, unable to maintain for long. On 28 March 1948, Jinnah delivered a speech in which he suggested that Pakistan was the ‘embodiment of the unity of the Muslim nation and so it must remain.’ [55]

This is exactly the RSS/Hindutva ideology in reverse, which decrees that the majority religious community in India alone has the right to define or determine Indian nationhood. The predilection that the north Indian Hindu chauvinist often displays towards the imposition of a highly Sanskritized form of Hindi upon non-Hindi speakers, found its counterpart in Jinnah’s speech at Dhaka University in what is now the capital of Bangladesh, on 24 March 1948 that ‘Urdu and Urdu alone would be Pakistan’s national language.’ [56] This was to set in motion a train of events which India’s religion and language sectarians can ignore only at the general peril.

V. The Reaction Theory

Muslim League-oriented writers naturally argue that Jinnah’s politics was a reaction to Congress politics which, according to them, was communal. H.M. Seervai also seems to make this interesting but misleading argument. Based on this logic, political actors and forces are not responsible for their own actions. Thus, the Hindutva of the 1980s and 1990s can be explained away as a reaction either to the Congress (I) or to Muslim communal parties. Indeed, even the formation of the Hindu Mahasabha can, based on this logic, hardly be seen independently of the formation of the Muslim League.

Several problems arise in the reaction theory as an explanation for League politics. On and after the foundation of the Indian National Congress in 1885, considerable efforts were made to involve the various communities of India in the new organization. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who wielded considerable influence, opposed the Congress and advised Muslims against being involved with it. At this stage there was no cause for a reaction to any action that political leaders of other communities may have taken. But Syed Ahmed felt that it was not in the interests of Muslims to involve themselves with the Congress and that their interests lay instead in concentrating on the field of education.

His opposition was therefore formulated not merely in practical terms; but also in emphatic ideological terms. In a letter to Badruddin Tyabji on 24 January 1888, Syed Ahmad wrote that ‘there can be no such thing as a National Congress, nor can it be of equal benefit to all peoples.’ [57] He added:

You regard the doings of the misnamed National Congress as beneficial to India but I am sorry to say that I regard them as not only injurious to our own community but also to India at large. I object to every Congress in any shape or form whatever—which regards India as one nation on account of its being based on wrong principles, viz. that it regards the whole of India as one nation. [58]

This view of Indian nationalism remained at the heart of the opposition to the Congress by a section of the Muslim community. As in the case of the Hindu communal world-view, it tested nationalism on the basis of what it ‘offered’ to particular religious communities. It was the constituency represented by this opinion that Jinnah ultimately took over. The constituency had a life and rationale of its own based largely on a community-for-itself view. On the premises of this view the relative demographic configuration of the various communities in India was itself a major handicap. Had Jinnah not ultimately taken over this constituency, it could well have been represented by another. There is no denying, of course, that Jinnah was to impart a definite and personal imprint upon it.

‘Reaction’ explanations are inadequate on other counts as well. They fail, for example, to explain the relatively poor performance of the Muslim League in the 1936-7 elections to the provincial assemblies. If Congress politics was ‘communal’ and if League politics is to be explained on this basis, why was this feeling not reflected in the 1936-7 elections?

In this connection, it is useful to recall that in the United Provinces, for example, many Muslim groups supported the Congress in the elections. The Congress and the local unit of the Muslim League itself appeared to have had a kind of ‘pact’ in the 1937 elections. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote that initially in the election campaign both the Muslim League and the Congress opposed the Agriculturist Party of the ‘big Zamindars’. But, according to him, during the election campaign the League took a ‘reactionary turn’ and the ‘outstanding and most powerful reactionary elements seemed to gain the upper hand.’ [59] The president of the UP League Board, the Rajah of Salempur, even joined the non-Congress interim ministry that was initially formed after the elections. Many Muslims, including the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, disapproved of the League’s methods and of the way the League fought the Bundelkhand election in 1937. It is also well known that in the ministry-making in the United Provinces thereafter, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, among others, opposed the proposed pact between the (United Provinces group of) the Muslim League and the Congress. [60]

If the Congress were a Hindu communalist party, as alleged, the Muslim religious parties like the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind would, in the ordinary course of things, have been the first to react against it.

It is also significant that even a substantial section of the local United Provinces unit of the League was, at this stage, willing to go along with the Congress. At least one reason for the pact falling through had to do not so much with Hindu-Muslim relations as with considerations relating, for example, to the Congress programme for land reforms. According to M. Hashim Kidwai, a biographer of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, the Congress-League negotiations on cabinet-making failed because of opposition not only from Congress socialists, but also from ‘Congress communists headed by Dr Ashraf and Dr Z.A. Ahmad.’

Kidwai writes:

Nehru thought that the U.P. Congress having led the first mass agrarian movement in the country was now set for radical land reforms and the inclusion of the moderate-cum-conservative Muslim League elements would moderate the economic and social radicalisms of the Congress and that the Muslim masses could be wooed through the socio-economic programme of the Congress, for which the Muslim mass contact campaign had already been launched. [61]

There is another weakness in the ‘reaction’ argument. It fails to explain the politics of the substantial section of Indian Muslims who stood by the Indian freedom movement. The Muslim-majority North-West Frontier Province elected a Congress government in the 1946 elections which were fought by the League on the Pakistan plank. Baluchistan remained a Congress stronghold till the end. It cannot be Seervai’s case, for example, that the nature of the Indian struggle for freedom is to be defined only by the movement in the politics of the League and not by the politics of another significant section of Indian Muslims or of other minorities.

Jinnah’s post-1931 politics appears to have been facilitated by the imperial context in which such positions could be taken with impunity, many of them with the solid support of the colonial power. For his politics, his essential positions, including his negotiating positions, are not natural and could not have been adopted in the absence of the colonial context, a fact recognized by many. Acharya Narendra Deva noted in 1946 that ‘Jinnah’s methods are Nazi methods ...’ and that he was ... ‘misleading the Muslim masses’. [62]

There are other voices of Indian Muslims with equal, if not greater, claims to authenticity. These are, for example, symbolized by Allah Baksh who was murdered on 14 May 1943; by Saifuddin Kitchlew (a hero of the ferment which led to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919), who was dragged in the streets of Multan in March 1947, because he would not support the Pakistan demand; by Syed Nausher Ali, the Speaker of the Bengal Assembly who was injured in the course of an attack on his house in August 1946 by Muslim League cadres who took over the house and declared it to be the League office; indeed also by men like Shafaat Ahmed Khan who was in the Muslim League for a long time but who, having been nominated a member of the interim government at the centre by the Congress in 1946, was stabbed in Shimla immediately thereafter and, as Choudhry Khaliquzzaman puts it, whose ‘injuries proved fatal’. [63]

An important phenomenon which should also be noticed is of certain leading Muslims from the Muslim League returning to the Congress, or turning back from a community-for-itself position to an Indian nationalist position. Thus, for instance, Saifuddin Kitchlew returned to the Congress in the 1940s; similarly, Ali Imam, having been one of the founders of the Muslim League in 1906, emerges later as one of the major supporters of the Nehru Report; or Mian Fazli Husain, a classic example, who prior to his retirement from the Viceroy’s Executive Council in March 1935, had been one of the major instruments by which the British regime had sought to influence Muslim opinion. He was also active from New Delhi in preventing a settlement from being reached at the Round Table Conferences in London. It was he who had thrown his weight to ensure that Dr M.A. Ansari was not invited to the Round Table Conference at London in 1931. But this same Fazli Husain, at the head of a reorganized Unionist Party, ‘envisaged co-operation with the Congress on the economic plane.’ [64] He died a few months before the 1936-7 elections.

Just as Jinnah turned to a community-for-itself position, his junior and political associate, M.C. Chagla started taking a firm Indian nationalist position.

As noted, even after the League passed the ‘Pakistan resolution’ in 1940, it did not command the support of the majority of Indian Muslims, a point conceded even by Cantwell Smith who many believe sold the ‘support-for-Pakistan’ line to the CPI.

The timing of such a League ‘reaction’ is interesting. Humayun Kabir, for instance, argues that the Muslim League was in fact ‘losing ground’ during 1943-4 in Bengal and the Punjab and nationalist forces were becoming stronger. Kabir’s criticism here is not that the Congress did not reach out to the League, but that Gandhi’s decision to talk to Jinnah at this time helped the latter to regain ground. [65]

The dilemma of the pre-freedom Congress in such matters was acute, though there is insufficient recognition of it. If it did not reach out to the League, it was held responsible for causing the ‘reaction’ represented by the League’s politics. If it reached out to the League, it was accused by many, including the nationalist Muslims, of actually contributing to strengthen it. In such situations it was not quite possible ever to be ‘right’. Easy judgementalism in relation to the pre-freedom Congress is often a back projection of present-day critiques of the role of the Congress (I).

In addition to these factors were the roles of officialdom and of the pre-freedom Communist Party of India. (A criticism of this phase of the CPI should not, however, be confused with criticism of the present-day CPI or Communist Party (Marxist) both of which parties have now a fairly creditable record of opposition to communalism.)

Kabir records, for example,

During the war years and immediately thereafter, Indian communists were found again and again as staunch supporters of the Muslim League. The position came to a climax during the general election of 1946 when they openly canvassed for Muslim League candidates. In spite of the Communist distaste for religion, they appealed to the religious fanaticism of the Muslim masses in order to bolster the claim of Pakistan. It is in fact extremely doubtful if the Muslim League by itself could have brought about the partition of India unless it had received such unstinted ideological organisational support from the Indian Communists. [66]

Evidently, there was more than merely the League’s alleged ‘reaction’, in the events that led to partition.

Even within the League there were differences on the question of a settlement. Wavell, who contributed considerably to the building up of Jinnah, admits in his journal on 6 October 1948 to ‘a certain reluctant admiration for him and his uncompromising attitude.’ [67] But he conceded on 18 March 1947 that had Liaquat ‘been in Jinnahs’ place I think we could have got a solution’. [68]

The movement for Indian freedom cannot be judged merely through the Muslim League, to the exclusion of other groups of Muslims. And as regards the Muslim League as well, is one to see it merely in the context of the later years? Further, is the freedom movement to be judged merely on the Hindu—Muslim frame, to the exclusion of other communities? Another unexplained fact in the ‘reaction’ paradigm is why the Hindu Mahasabha leaders moved in the direction of the two-nation theory. For, as we have seen, some of them did so even before Jinnah formally adopted it (though the community-for-itself idea came to dominate Jinnah’s politics considerably before it was transformed into the two-nation theme). Were the Mahasabha leaders also reacting to the Congress? Or is the argument that is presented for the League, not to be presented for the Mahasabha? Who and what was the Mahasabha reacting to?

VI. The ‘Secular Demands’ Theory

I have argued elsewhere that there is no secularism without humanism. [69] A politics of hate, or a community-for-itself view in disregard of the interests of the larger society outside that community is not compatible with secularism. Secularism is not a substitute for humanism but the form humanism must acquire when expressed at the level of the state. Secularism without humanism is an empty shell. Kamal Ataturk set up a state in Turkey, with ‘secularism’ being confined to the Turkish state; the Greek population was to be uprooted from Asia Minor, where the Greeks had lived since the beginning of recorded history, to be exchanged with the Turkish population in Greece. Jinnah also similarly and repeatedly referred to and hinted at, from at least as early on as 1941, to a possible exchange of population between ‘Hindustan’ and the ‘Muslim dominion’ that the League had proposed. The protagonists of Hindutva also similarly spoke of such an exchange of population. In August 1947 Jinnah spoke of equal rights for all citizens of Pakistan thus signalling a secular state, but on 28 March 1948 he suggested that Pakistan was ‘the embodiment of the unity of the Muslim nation and so it must remain.’ [70] The Hindutva agenda for India is an identical image of this. The notion of the state taking colour from the religion of the majority, or of the nation being defined as such, was rejected by constitution makers in India. This understanding runs through the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly. Yet the temptation to erase the distinction between the majority community and the definition of the nation is ever present. This is the politics of Hindutva. This notion has also been reflected in certain controversial remarks of the Supreme Court of India in the Hindutva judgements delivered in late 1995.

Secularism in form becomes secularism in substance only in association with humanism. When the term is used in relation to the state it must not only reflect the minimum norms of humanism and equal respect for the humanistic basis of all religions, as required from the individual and civil society, but must also ensure that religious considerations of any particular community are kept out of the affairs of state and its institutions and do not influence such affairs.

Asghar Ali Engineer has deplored the communal politics of both the Hindu Mahasabha and of the Muslim League traditions. But while depicting such politics as communal he has recently been describing the causes behind the League’s demand for Pakistan as ‘secular’. Thus he observes:

It should also be noted that the Urdu-speaking élite (not the masses) from North India was mainly responsible for the creation of Pakistan. And it is also important to note that this Urdu-speaking élite created Pakistan not for religious reasons, as is commonly believed, but for secular reasons. [71]

Here the loaded term ‘secular’ is obviously being used in the specific sense of ‘temporal’. Yet on account of the various shades of meaning that attach to the term, one would be diffident in describing such demands, if made by non-Muslims in Muslim-majority provinces of pre-independence India, as ‘secular’. Else Hindu leaders who made such demands in Punjab and Bengal and Sikh leaders who made similar demands in Punjab would also have to be characterized as making ‘secular’ demands. In fact, Engineer’s use of the term ‘secular’ is primarily a terminological vagueness, because Engineer is doubtless aware of the connotations of the term ‘secular’ and himself has no difficulty in characterizing the politics of Jinnah and the League as communal’. For instance, he observes, ‘similarly, one who is communal, like M.A. Jinnah and Veer Savarkar, never developed an inner faith in religion.’ [72] How does Engineer resolve the contradiction? He does so by saying, ‘Thus communalism is all about secular issues without involving any religious or sectarian doctrine.’ [73] The Muslim League demands, though largely non-theological, were religious-community-based. If such demands are described as ‘secular’, it creates the misleading impression that those Muslims who did not make such demands somehow did not reflect secular concerns. On this reasoning, Muslims like Zakir Husain, Asaf Ali, Mohd. Tayebullah, Syed Nowsher Ali, Allah Baksh, Saifuddin Kitchlew, Munshi Ahmeddin, Abdul Bari (the socialist from Bihar), Yusuf Meherally and M.Y. Nurie, who tended to think on an Indian national plane were, by implication, not articulating secular demands or the real needs of the Muslims. The fact, however, is that they were concerned with these issues but they were also concerned about similar aspirations of persons from other communities and sought a secular and nationalist resolution of all such aspirations. Their secularism lay in the holistic nature of their concerns.

The League often demanded, as we have seen, that the Congress may not be represented by a Muslim in say, the 1945 conference, or the Executive Council in 1946, or even in talks with the Muslim League, as in 1938. Was this a ‘secular’ demand in any sense? Did this articulate the needs of the Muslim masses?

There was at this time no universal franchise. The formulation that the League was voicing secular demands implies also primary popular support for the Muslim League’s demands, as against support merely from the relatively small proportion comprising the enfranchised sections of the Muslim population. As against this, we have the following position from, for example:

1. Bengal

Moni Singh, the Bangladesh Communist leader, points out in his memoirs how Muslim League leaders influenced the Muslim peasants against the Tebhaga movement in 1946. [74]

2. Baluchistan

Cantwell Smith acknowledges in Modern Islamin India, that in Baluchistan the landowners were with the Muslim League (that is, as against Abdus Samad Khan’s Anjuman-e-Watan). [75]

3. U.P.

Prof. M. Mujeeb wrote of the 1937-39 events, in U.P.:

Further, while on the one hand the will of the majority seemed to be an argument which swept everything before it, an attempt was made by the Congress, through a programme of mass contact, to drive a wedge between the class and the Muslim masses. The land reforms that formed an essential part of Congress policy, though intended in fact to benefit the farmer, threatened to deprive the class of its only means of sustenance. It was inevitable that the class should retaliate as vigorously and as viciously as it could.[M. Mujeeb, ‘The Partition of India in Retrospect’, in C.H. Philips and Mary Doreen Wainwright (eds), The Partition of India: Policies and Perspectives, 1935-47 , George Allen & Unwin, London, 1970, p. 412.]

4. Kerala

Interestingly, the League influence in the Malabar seems to have grown ‘just when the Socialist group in the Congress in Kerala was becoming powerful in the late 30’s.’ [76]

In fact, Engineer himself, in a way, questions the representative nature of the League when he asserts that it was the élite and not the masses which were responsible for the creation of Pakistan. In the circumstances, the position that the League was articulating the secular aspirations of the Muslim masses is open to question.

As Engineer would himself gladly point out, there were many Muslims opposed to the League, and many (Muslim-predominant) organizations also opposed to the League. Can it be said of the former that they were religious personalities; and of all of the latter that they were religious organizations in the theological sense? For this is what seems erroneously to be implied by contrasting them with the League which is here described as ‘secular’. Here one may note the existence of an advanced section of Muslims in the Indian National Congress, including the Congress Socialist Party; a section of Muslims within the pre-freedom Communist Party of India, represented by Dr K.M. Ashraf, who seem to have opposed that party’s support to the Muslim League; the Muslims in the Krishak Praja Party; the Muslims in the Unionist Party of Punjab; the Anjuman-e-Watan of Baluchistan; Allah Baksh’s United Party in Sind; the National Conference in Jammu & Kashmir; and the All India Momin Conference and several other organizations. What interests were these organizations articulating? Did they not also reflect the secular interests of the Muslim masses?

The fact that the ostensibly religious groups like the Khudai Khidmatgars (which may also be classified as a regional organization), Majlis-e-Ahrar and the Jamiat-ul-Ulama-e-Hind largely supported the Congress is significant. Did members of these parties have no secular interests? For even the Pope has some secular interests (Vatican business investments, etc.). If these organizations were in a sense religious, was religion their primary concern? If the Muslim League demands were secular demands of the Muslims, did the All Parties Shia Conference, which was opposed to the Muslim League, represent the ‘secular’ demands of the Shia Muslims? Why should the two ‘secular’ demands have been totally opposed to one another?

What employment interests of Muslims at large in, say, UP and Bihar were served by the movement for Pakistan? In fact, so far as the Muslim artisans of India were concerned, they were an intrinsic part of a unified Indian economy and the partition demand was contrary to their secular interests. It was their lives which were severely affected by partition. [77]

How did secular demands get associated with an intense hate campaign akin to that conducted by Hindutva especially in recent years? If these demands were simply attempts at ‘bargaining’, was this bargaining process helped or hampered by the hate campaign? In other words, was not the hate campaign contrary to the secular interests of the Muslim masses and of all Indians?

Further, if Muslim League demands were ‘secular’, should such demands now be repeated and would all ‘secular forces’ be obliged to support such demands?

Does not secularism as a political concept, involve as a precondition an element of humanism? Or is secularism definable with reference to a single community or sect even if this is to the extent of disregarding the fate of those who do not belong to that community or sect? Is the uprooting of humanity involved in the suggestion made by Jinnah, for example, in 1941 regarding Hindus and Muslims settling ‘in their respective homelands’, consistent with humanism? [78] Is the demand that only Muslims ought to participate in a referendum in the Muslim majority provinces, made by Jinnah in the talks with Gandhi in 1944, a secular demand? [79]

Jinnah’s acceptance (after partition had been agreed upon) of the principle of equal rights for all within Pakistan, is often hailed as evidence of his secularism. [80] On the other hand, when the Congress did the same thing in 1928 through the Nehru Report, this is sometimes cited as an instance of the Indian nationalists being in error; [81] for here, it is argued, they should have accepted the demands made on behalf of Jinnah. Here the secular ideal is stood on its head. Instead of the Nehru Report being presented as secular, these demands are themselves described as ‘secular’. Some facts in relation to this event are often overlooked. First, a number of Indian nationalists, many Muslims among them, stoutly supported the Nehru Report. These included Ali Imam, one of the founding members of the Muslim League. Secondly, in 1928, when Jinnah’s proposals were being discussed, the British colonial regime was backing another group of Muslims. During the Round Table Conferences of the 1930s Mian Fazli Husain, who was then in the Viceroy’s Council, was the primary ‘instrument’ by which a section of Muslim opinion was sought to be orchestrated by the colonial regime. [82] The hypothetical questions of history are always engaging. It is too simplistic to believe that an agreement with Jinnah at this stage would have prevented the League or another communal party in its place from pursuing communal politics. Jinnah himself had a different interpretation of the 1928 and subsequent events. He said: ‘The Congress will not come to terms with me because my following is very small.’ [83]

At this time the British were backing others. They were to start their primary backing for Jinnah only subsequently. Fazli had by then turned towards a more nationalist position. In a broad political sense, Fazli and Jinnah switched roles. Had Jinnah not been available, the British regime would perhaps have found it convenient to find or create others to play a role which was not unconnected with the various means by which the colonial regime sought to contain Indian nationalism. [84]


[1] H.M. Seervai, Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, N.M. Tripathi. Bombay, 1991, p. 8; Partition of India, N.M. Tripathi, Bombay 1994, p. 15. Jinnah himself has been quoted as having made such a remark. A charge was made by the Muslim League prior to partition. The charge was that the Congress was under the influence of the Hindu Mahasabha and that this influence was critical. The Congress was an organization seeking independence from the British and persons who shared this objective joined it. For many years, this included persons from both the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha. To that extent the statement relating to Hindu Mahasabha influence in the Congress is sustainable. If the suggestion, however, is that the Hindu Mahasabha influence over the Congress was so intrinsic and vital that people like Moonje, Jayakar and Malaviya expressed the national sentiment as was reflected in the Congress, to the exclusion of other influences such as those of, say, the Muslim League or the Sikh League or other similar organizations, then the matter is open to some question and is a formulaic oversimplification.

The weakness of the charge is evidenced by the significant events of 1935 when Rajendra Prasad, the then President of the Congress, and M.A. Jinnah had lengthy talks in Delhi between 23 January and 1 March. These are the talks in which the Congress and Jinnah came closest to the possibility of an agreement. In spite of opposition from Sikhs and the Bengal Hindus, Rajendra Prasad accepted Jinnah’s demand in relation to the franchise qualification for Muslims in relation to the Punjab and Bengal. (See Indian Annual Register, 1937, vol. 1 p. 230.)

Prasad notes in this regard:

I had gone further and told Mr Jinnah that the Congress and the League should accept the formula and the Congress would fight those Hindus who were opposed to it as it had fought then during the recent Assembly elections quite successfully in most of the provinces. But this was not considered enough by Mr Jinnah and as it was impossible to fulfil his demand that the Hindu Mahasabha should also join the matter had to be dropped (Indian Annual Register, 1937, vol. 1, pp. 230-1).

(Also see Rajendra Prasad, Autobiography, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1957, p. 402.)

This episode is instructive. The League line, often repeated uncritically by a particular kind of historian, is that the Congress was dependent on the Hindu Mahasabha or was under its hegemony. But here was a neat instance where the Congress was willing to settle with Jinnah by ignoring the Mahasabha. The compromise appears to have had the backing of Gandhi: “If the kind of compromise you have outlined in your letter can be brought about, I would love it” (See Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 60, p. 188).

It would seem rather curious that Jinnah, who had been charging the Congress with being under the hegemony of the Hindu Mahasabha, should himself insist that the Hindu Mahasabha should be brought into the picture when the Congress was willing to proceed by ignoring the Mahasabha as well as the ‘Sikhs’.

[2] H.M. Seervai does not mention it. Chaudhri Muhammad Ali does not refer to it in his The Emergence of Pakistan, Research Society of Pakistan, Lahore (5th impression 1985, first published, Columbia University Press, New York, 1967).

[3] Indian Annual Register, 1929, vol. 1, pp. 371-3.

[4] Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, Pathway to Pakistan, Longmans, Green & Co. Lahore, 1961, p. 101. According to Khaliquzzaman, the fourteen points of the Muslim All-Parties conference were accepted by the Muslim League after the supporters of the Nehru Report had been evicted.

[5] Indian Annual Register, 1929, vol. 1, pp. 371-2.

[6] Ibid., pp. 372-3.

[7] Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada (ed), Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah’s Correspondence, East and West Publishing Company, Karachi, 1977, p. 22.

[8] H.M., Seervai, Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, N.M. Tripathi, Bombay, 4th edn, 1991, p. 11; idem, Partition of India (Legend and Reality), 2nd edn, 1994, p. 21 citing Shiva Rao, Framing of India’s Constitution: A Study, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, 1968, p. 22.

[9] Idem, Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, p. 952.

[10] Subhas Bose, Cross Roads, Asia Publishing House. Bombay, 1962, Calcutta, p. 37.

[11] Ibid., p. 38.

[12] Ibid.

[13] For the text of the resolutions, see ibid., p. 39.

[14] Ibid., p. 41.

[15] See Indian Annual Register, 1938, vol. 2, pp. 269-70.

[16] Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah’s Correspondence pp. 96-7.

[17] Ibid., p. 97.

[18] Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada (ed.); Foundations of Pakistan, All India Muslim League Documents, vol. 2, 1906-1947, National Publishing House, Karachi, 1970, p. 341.

[19] Ibid., pp. 337-8.

[20] Indian Annual Register, 1939, vol. II, p. 317.

In 1929 Bhai Parmanand opposed joint electorates just as certain Muslim groups were doing. He said:

When Hindus and Muslims vote jointly, their party differences would be influenced by religious fanaticism: and this would lead to serious consequences to both the communities. Even if no such trouble takes place, I think joint electorates would be injurious to the Hindus (Bhai Parmanand, The Hindu National Movement, Lahore, 1929, p. 9).

Bhai Parmanand therefore did not consider worth paying the price demanded by Jinnah for giving up separate electorates (ibid., pp. 13-14). Jinnah, for his part, was concentrating on issues like the separation of Sind from Bombay. This separation was also to help pave the way for Pakistan, a few years later.
On the question of Indian nationhood, Bhai Parmanand said that ‘the idea of a common nationality is for the present impracticable in India’ (ibid., p. 18).

[21] I have made this point before in ‘Is VHP a Betrayal of Hinduism?’, The Statesman, New Delhi, 9 July 1990. That the League had a fascistic tendency was to be noted by the leading Congress Socialist Narendra Deva. The leader of the Shia Muslims, Hooseinbhoy A. Lalljee said in 1945 in relation to the elections to the Central Assembly (which preceded the 1946 provincial assembly elections):

The League, which professes to be a highly democratic body had set up a machinery akin to Hitler’s Germany. Goondas and Raffians [sic] had been collected and lathis, knives and stones amply substituted Nazi bayonets and rubber rods. No non-League voter was allowed to approach a polling booth and houses of non-League candidates were picketed for days together. It is a travesty of truth to call the Central Assembly elections as free elections. Mr Jinnah rightly said that democracy did not suit India. His followers have proved the statement. (Hooseinbhoy Abdoolabhoy Lalljee, Shia Muslims’ Case, All Parties Shia Conference, Bombay, n.d., pp. 31-2).

[22] M.C. Setalvad, Bhulabhai Desai, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. 1968. p. 367.

[23] Indian Annual Register, 1945, vol. 1, p. 33.

[24] Ibid., p. 38.

[25] See notes 23 and 24 above and Setalvad, Bhulabhai Desai pp. 269-70.

[26] See Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994 (first published 1985). Also see H.M. Seervai, Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, N.M. Tripathi, Bombay, 4th edn, 1991, p. 20; and idem, Partition of India, N.M. Tripathi, Bombay, 2nd edn, 1994, pp. 31-2.

[27] See Maulana Azad, India Wins Freedom, 1959. Incidentally, the statement in India Wins Freedom on which Setalvad had relied, that Gandhi failed to back Bhulabhai at the Congress Working Committee has been deleted from the 1988 edition of the book. But, as pointed out in the text, even if we go by the 1959 edition, this issue was clearly addressed to a Working Committee meeting held in the summer of 1945, by which time the Desai-Liaquat Ali Khan pact had already been repudiated by Jinnah and Liaquat. Seervai did not mention that M.C. Setalvad had acknowledged in his work on Bhulabhai Desai (pp. 269-70) that Gandhi had stood by Bhulabhai in regard to this pact even six months later, in July 1945.

[28] Pethick-Lawrence in H.S.L. Polak, H. N. Brailsford, and Pethick-Lawrence, Mahatma Gandhi, Odhams Press, London, 1949, p. 258.

[29] Constitutional Proposals of the Sapru Committee, Padma Publications, Bombay, 1945, Appendix II, pp. 4-5.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Supplementary Volume IV, Publications Division, New Delhi, 1994, p. 202., letter dated 14 May 1945 to Tej Bahadur Sapru.

[32] See Pethick-Lawrence in Mahatma Gandhi, p. 258.

[33] See A.S. Iyengar, All Through the Gandhian Era, Hind Kitabs, Bombay, 1950, p. 223.

[34] H.M. Seervai, Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, p. 21; idem, Partition of India, p. 33

[35] Wilfred Cantwell Smith wrote of the Azad Muslim Conference, called in 1940 under the presidentship of Allah Baksh to protest against the Muslim League’s two-nation theory, that:

The delegates, representing at that time probably still the majority of India’s Muslims, came to protest against the Pakistan idea, and against the use made of the Muslims by the British government and others as an excuse for political inaction (W.C. Smith, Modern Islam in India: A Social Analysis, 2nd revd edn, 1946, reprint 1979, Usha Publications, New Delhi, p. 279).
Further, Shaukatullah Ansari, estimated that the League, in 1944, was not the predominant party among Muslims in Sind and Punjab (see Shaukatullah Ansari, Pakistan: The Problem of India, Minerva Book Shop, Lahore, 2nd edn, 1945 (first published 1944), pp. 59-60.

The Shias were estimated by themselves to number between twenty and thirty million. Their representatives did not accept the authority of the Muslim League to represent them. Even if this estimate of Shias among Muslims appears to be on the high side, there is no doubt that they constituted at least 10—15 per cent of the Muslim population in the country, and this group did not accept the authority of the Muslim League. On 17 March 1946, the Council of Action of the All Parties Shia Conference declared that ‘Shias have suffered immensely under the present system of separate electorates and have been deprived of their due representation on the legislatures and other self—governing units and departments of administration. The system of separate electorates cannot therefore be acceptable to them.’ (Resolution dated 17 March 1946, reproduced in Hooseinbhoy Abdoolabhoy Lalljee, Shia Muslims’ Case, All Parties Shia Conference, Bombay, n.d., pp. 59-60.) The Congress could have made political capital out of such divisions. But Nehru, for example, took a mature longer view. On 30 January 1946 Jawaharlal Nehru, replying to a letter from Hooseinbhoy Lalljee, the President of the All Parties Shia Conference, wrote:

Separate electorates, which have done so much injury to India as a whole, and I believe to the Muslims also, have particularly hit the Shias. Normally the Shias have few chances of getting elected by Muslim separate electorates. The argument that can be advanced for separate electorates of Mussalmans as a whole can equally be advanced for the Shias as a minority group among the Muslims of India. But it is clear that this kind of infinite division of the electorate into separate compartments is likely to do grave injury not only to the cause of India as a whole but more especially to the minority communities which are supposed to be protected (emphasis added) (See Lalljee, Shia Muslims’ p. 63)


[36] H.M. Seervai, Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, case, p. 22; Partition of India, idem, p. 35.

[37] V.P. Menon, Transfer of Power, Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1957, pp. 197—8.

[38] Penderel Moon (ed.), Wavell: The Viceroy’s Journal, p. 155.

[39] See Ayesha, Jalal, The Sole Spokesman, p. 131. Incidentally, it may be noted that Jalal here refers to parity between Hindus and Muslims while Seervai writes of parity between the Congress and the Muslim League.

[40] Constitutional Proposals of the Sapru Committee, pp. 318-19.

[41] Indian Annual Register, 1945, vol. II, p. 159.

[42] The Hindu, 8 December 1945, reproduced in ‘This Day That Age’, The Hindu, 8 December 1995.

[43] See Jinnah’s letter dated 25 September 1944 to Gandhi in Sharifuddin Syed Pirzada, vaid-e-Azam Jinnah Correspondence, pp. 122-5.

[44] H.M. Seervai, Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, pp. 954—6. Corresponding reference in idem, Partition of India, pp. xix-xxii.

In order to meet criticism that he had neglected to consider the implications of the Gandhi—Jinnah talks in September 1944, Seervai wrote, inter alia: ‘To have referred to Gandhi’s “offer” during his talks with Jinnah would have been a distracting irrelevance in Legend and Reality, the central theme of which is the transfer of power from British to Indian hands’ (Constitutional Law of India, vol. 1, p. 956; Partition of India, p. xxii).

[45] The Transfer of Power Documents, vol. VII, p. 124.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Interview to APA, 1 November 1945, quoted in Joshua Fazl-ud-din, Separate Electorates: The Life Blood of Pakistan, The Punjabi Darbar Publishing House, Lahore, n.d., p. 8.

[48] The Transfer of Power Documents, vol. VII, p. 124

[49] Maurice Gwyer, and A. Appadorai, Speeches and Documents on the Indian Constitution, 1921—47, vol. 2, Oxford University Press, Bombay, 1957, p. 573.

[50] Rafiq Zakaria, The Widening Divide, Viking, Penguin Books, 1995, pp. 67-48.

[51] Transfer of Power Documents, vol. X, pp. 487-8

[52] Indian Annual Register, 1947, vol. 1, p. 246.

[53] Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 90, p. 168.

[54] See Sharif Al Mujahid, Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah: Studies in Interpretation, Low Price Publications, Delhi, 1993, p. 247.

[55] Joshua Fazl-ud-din, Separate Electorates: The Life Blood of Pakistan, p. 54. See also Al-Mujahid, Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah, p. 654.

[56] See Moni Singh, Life is a Struggle, People’s Publishing House, New Delhi, 1988, p. 156.

[57] See A.G Noorani, Badruddin Tyabji, Publications Division, New Delhi, 1969 (Appendix VIII, p. 176).

[58] Ibid.

[59] For Nehru’s account, see his letter dated 21 July 1937 to Rajendra Prasad (Valmiki Chowdhury (ed.), Dr. Rajendra Prasad: Correspondence and Select Documents, vol. 1, 1934-38, Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1984, pp. 63-7.

[60] See, for example, Mohan Lal Saksena, Is that to be the End of Our Lives’ Labour?, Ballot Publishing House, New Delhi, 1963, p. 95.

[61] M. Hashim Kidwai, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Publications Division, New Delhi, 1986, p. 104.

[62] Acharya Narendra Deva’s speech at the AICC meeting in Meerut in November 1946, Task Before the Constituent Assembly, reproduced in Acharya Narendra Deva Birth Centenary: 31st Oct. 1988-30th Oct. 1989. Acharya Narendra Deva Samajwadi Sansthan, Varanasi, n.d., pp. 9-13.

[63] Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, Pathway to Pakistan, p. 364.

[64] Durga Das, India from Curzon to Nehru and After, Collins, London, 1969, p. 173.

[65] Humayun Kabir, Muslim Politics 1906—47 and Other Essays, Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta, 1969, pp. 58-60.

[66] Idem, Essentials of the Ideology, in Ramlal Parikh, (ed.), Souvenir, 66th Session, Indian National Congress, Reception Committee, Bhavnagar, 1961, pp. 33-4. Evidence of this kind is considerable. On 19 December 1996, the Indian Express, New Delhi, carried a letter from R. Venugopal, recording that ‘in the mid-forties E.M.S. Namboodiripad led processions of Muslims in Kerala along with the late A.K. Gopalan shouting “Pakistan Zindabad” and “Moplistan Zindabad”.’ See also Javed Ashraf in Secular Democracy, New Delhi, March 1997.

[67] Penderel Moon (ed.), Wavell: The Viceroy’s Journal, p. 442.

[68] Ibid., p. 430.

[69] Anil Nauriya, ‘The Hindutva Judgements: A Warning Signal’, Economic and Political Weekly, Bombay, 6 January 1996. Pluralist possibilities and humanism in society are in fact, preconditions to a secular state.

[70] Jinnah’s Speeches in August 1947 and on 28 March 1948 (see notes 54 and 55).

[71] Asghar Ali Engineer, ‘Ethnic and Communal Conflict in Pakistan’, Mainstream, New Delhi, 16 September 1995.

[72] Idem, Communalism in India, Vikas Publishing House, 1996, p. 109.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Moni Singh, Life is a Struggle, People’s Publishing House, New Delhi, 1988, p. 84. Moni Singh records also that the Congress was against the Tebhaga struggle. Gandhi however had spoken in favour of the Tebhaga demands (see Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 86, p. 413). Some CSP leaders were also involved with the struggle. (See Prem Bhasin, Badal Sarcar, Janatn, Bombay, 15 October 1995).

[75] Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Modern Islam in India, Usha Publications, New Delhi, 1979, p. 278 (reprint of 2nd revd edn of 1946).

[76] M. Gangadharan, ‘Emergence of the Muslim League in Kerala—An Historical Enquiry’, in Asghar Ali Engineer (ed.), Kerala Muslims, Ajanta Publications, New Delhi, 1995, p. 216n.

[77] Engineer himself accepts that ‘the cream of the Muslim society had gone away to Pakistan after partition and those who were economically weak and illiterate were left behind (Asghar Ali Engineer, ‘U.P. Elections and Muslims’, The Hindu, 1 October 1996).

[78] Indian Annual Register, 1941, vol. 1, p. 28. The Register records for 10 January 1941: ‘Mr M.A. Jinnah President of the All India Moslem League speaking at the annual meeting of the Moslem Educational Service League in Bombay, expressed the View that India would be able to lay down a “Monroe Doctrine”, for the country once the Hindus and Muslims made up their differences and were settled in their respective homelands.’

[79] Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada (ed.), Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah’s Correspondence, see pp. 122-5 for Jinnah’s letter dated 25 September 1944, to Gandhi.

[80] Asghar Ali Engineer, ‘Hindu-Muslim Hostile Images’, The Hindu, 21 December 1996. Jinnah’s subsequent statement on 28 March 1948 is not often mentioned or noticed by scholars. He said ‘Pakistan is the embodiment of the unity of the Muslim nation and so it must remain.’ (See Sharif Al Mujahid, Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah, p. 654.

[81] Asghar Ali Engineer, ‘Pakistan: Religion & Politics-I’, The Hindu, 2 May 1966. Seervai also makes such a suggestion.

[82] See Durga Das, India from Curzon to Nehru and After, p. 137.

[83] Ibid., p. 155.

[84] Current scholarship glosses over such facts. Jalal did not deal with the League’s Madras Session (1941) where Jinnah made his object of an independent nation-state of Pakistan absolutely clear; the League’s constitution was also amended to include ‘Muslim Free National Homelands’ as the League’s object; and Liaqat Ali Khan declared that this ‘would be an effective reply to those who had alleged that it was merely a counter for bargaining’ (Pirzada (ed.), Foundations of Pakistan, vol. 2, p. 362 et. seq.). Similarly, see Moon’s apology for Wavell’s and Jinnah’s opposition to the inclusion of ‘nationalist Muslims’ as representatives of the Congress in the Executive Council (in 1946) and elsewhere (cf. Moon (ed.), Wavell: The Viceroy’s Journal, pp. 296-7). The British assumption is that the Congress had hardly any right to having Muslims among its ranks; if it had any, this amounted to ‘dividing’ the Muslims and could only have happened by ‘flattery’ and ‘inducement’. Underneath was the fear that Muslims were not wholly behind the League despite the efforts of the colonial administration. The Cabinet Mission Plan envisaged a review after ten years. Was not the Congress to be free during this period to canvass its case among Muslims? How could it do so if it effectively gave up the right to represent Muslims? Did not Muslims also have the political right to participate in institutions other than the Muslim League?

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