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A Brief Review of Gandhiji’s View on Partition

by Mukul Sinha, 13 November 2013

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One of our readers Aflatoon Afloo, had posted the following comment on our article History Sheeters (1) – Narendra Damodardas Modi – Was Congress Responsible for India’s Partition?.

विभाजन के मामले में गांधीजी को सरदार और नेहरू के साथ रखना आपके द्वारा जनता की आंख में धूल झोंकना है। कांग्रेस कार्यसमिति में विभाजन के प्रस्ताव के खिलाफ गांधी,बादशाह खान,जेपी और लोहिया थे।सरदार और नेहरू को कुर्सी दिख रही थी देश नहीं। अंग्रेजों के प्रस्ताव को मानना और जिन्ना-सावरकर के द्विराष्ट्र सिद्धान्त को मानने में क्या फर्क हुआ?

English Translation: Mr Aflatoon Afloo is of the view that in the matter of partition, to bracket Gandhiji along with Sardar Patel and Nehru is not right. In the AICC committee meeting on the issue of partition, Gandhiji, Badhshah Khan, JP and Lohiya were against the partition. Sardar Patel and Nehru had their eyes set on the coveted positions that they would get in the new Government.

Dear Aflatoon Afloo, we are constrained to make the following comment as you have made an unwarranted imputation against us- that by bracketing Gandhiji with Sardar and Nehru in the issue of partition, we are hoodwinking the people!

Gandhiji at a Public Meeting

Gandhiji at a Public Meeting

On behalf of Truth of Gujarat, I would like to reiterate our assurance that we are willing to correct any fact that is wrongly stated by us provided credible evidence is furnished in support of the true fact. We are also willing to apologize for any conclusion drawn by us on the basis of any wrong fact. We would of course firmly with all emphasis at our command state that we do not hoodwink people by deliberately prevaricating the truth. That is not the purpose of our blog.

Coming back to your comment, we did not bracket Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar in connection with the partition. History bracketed them together. According to the facts we gathered, on June 12, 1947, the Congress Working Committee met and passed a resolution accepting the Partition of India. The same had to be ratified on 14 June by the AICC. At the beginning of the debate, veteran Congress leaders like Purusottamdas Tandon, Govindaballav Panth, Chaitram Gidwani and Dr S Kichlu and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan spoke against the partition expressing fierce opposition. Azad privately discussed the proposal with Gandhi, Patel and Nehru, but despite his opposition was unable to deny the popularity of the League and the unworkability of any coalition with the League. Faced with the serious possibility of a civil war, Azad abstained from voting on the resolution, remaining silent and not speaking throughout the AICC session, which ultimately approved the plan.

As far as the record stands, Gandhi did not oppose the resolution of AICC working Committee on 14th June, 1947 as asserted by you. Otherwise also, we at TOG consider, Gandhiji, Nehru and Patel as great leaders of the freedom movement and do not agree with you that Nehru and Patel had their eyes on the “khursi” denoting a governmental office. We believe they were far above such considerations. Lastly, Gandhi did see the inevitability of the partition way back in 1940. In his magazine called Harijan, he had written on several occasions, we are producing two of them below:

On March 26, 1940, the leaders of Muslim League raised a united voice for the creation of Pakistan as a separate homeland for Muslims. Hardly a couple of weeks had passed, Gandhi, supporting the demand, wrote:

Like other groups of people in this country, Muslims also have the right of self determination. We are living here as a joint family and hence any member has the right to get separated (Harijan, April 6, 1940).

A couple of years later, he also wrote,

If majority of the Muslims of this country maintain that they are a different nation and there is nothing common with the Hindus and other communities, there is no force on the earth that can alter their view. And if on that basis, they demand partition that must be carried out. If Hindus dislike it, they may oppose it. (Harijan, April 18, 1942)

Refer to Gandhi’s speech at prayer meeting on June 4, 1947

I told you that we would not give even an inch of land as Pakistan under coercion. In other words, we would not accept Pakistan under the threat of violence. Only if they can convince us by peaceful, argument and if their proposal appeals to our reason would we concede Pakistan.

From another letter by Gandhi on June 2, 1947

Probably no one is more distressed than I am over the impending division of India. But I have no desire to launch a struggle against what promises to be an accomplished fact.

Truth of Gujarat does not want to put its own interpretation of the aforesaid quotes from the great man and leaves it to the readers to form their own opinion as to whether TOG had incorrectly stated Bapuji’s views on partition.

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