By June D Souza
In his universally acclaimed autobiographical account ‘India Wins Freedom’, the great Maulana Azad wrote, “Before coming to India, Sir Stafford Cripps had written to the Viceroy that he would like to meet, besides the leaders of the Congress the leaders of the Muslim League also.
It was well known that Congress spoke for the vast majority of the Indian people. The only reason for inviting all such parties to meet Sir Stafford was to use them as possible counterweights to Congress.
The British Government wanted to inform the world outside that there were many parties in India and Congress could not speak for the whole country.
The British also perhaps felt that in this way they could exert some pressure on Congress. It was in this context that Cripps felt he ought to invite the President of the Nationalist Muslim Convention when he was meeting leaders of other Indian parties.” Sir Stafford, however, changed his stand after arriving in India and tried to avoid meeting Allah Bux.
He met Maulana Azad after he insisted him consistently for an hour, but did not discuss anything of substance. This is recorded by Maulana Azad in his autobiographical account.
“Khan Bahadur Allah Bux had attained importance in recent months after presiding over the Convention of the Nationalist Muslims in Delhi.” Maulana Azad wrote, “The Conference was held with great éclat and 1,400 delegates came to Delhi from all quarters of India.
The session was so impressive that even the British and the Anglo-Indian press, which normally tried to belittle the importance of nationalist Muslims, could not ignore it. They were compelled to acknowledge that this Conference proved that nationalist Muslims were not a negligible factor.
Even the Statesman and the Times of India wrote leading articles on the Conference.” Thus it can be seen in multiple instances that despite the efforts of the British and the Muslim League the majority of Muslims in India had a feeling of nationalism which was opposed to partition of India.
J&K being a Muslim majority State, it is imperative for the common people to understand that the Muslim League was a political organization whose primary goal was to usurp power for the handful of politicians who ran the party.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad wrote, “The Muslim League was established in 1906 in Dacca after the session of the Muslim Educational Conference during Christmas.
It owed its origin to the efforts of Nawab Mushtaq Husain. I was present at the session and remember the two reasons advanced for the establishment of the League.
It was said that one of the objects of the League would be to strengthen and develop a feeling of loyalty to the British Government among the Muslims of India.
The second object was to advance the claims of the Muslims against Hindus and other communities in respect of service under the crown and thus safeguard Muslim interests and rights.
The leaders of the League were therefore naturally opposed to the demand for political independence raised by the Congress.
They felt that if the Muslims joined in any such demand the British would not support their claims for special treatment in education and service. In fact, they described the Congress as a disloyal organisation of rebels and regarded even moderate political leaders like Gokhale or Sir Ferozeshah Mehta as extremists.
During this phase the British Government always used the Muslim League as a counter to the demands of the Congress.” Thus the main purpose served by the Muslim League was not social welfare of Muslims, but the advancement of the British political games.
Mohammad Omar Farooq emphasizes that the ‘Muslim League’ was therefore, originally, not a progressive force, specifically for seeking independence from the British. He adds that the League’s modus operandi was basically to patronize the British rule so that the British, in return, would patronize Muslims.
The Muslim League took a while to begin to represent the entire Muslim community. It was not easy, because there were key Muslim leaders, with solid support from Muslims, involved with Congress.
To gain political mileage for the League there was one man who proved very useful. Ramtanu Maitra described him as “A more-British-than-the-British-themselves Dawoodi Bohra Muslim from Bombay with a rack full of Saville Row suits.
This ‘secular’ Muslim leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, urged to lead the subcontinent’s Muslims by the British Crown, dropped his expensive suits in a hurry and put on ‘Islamic garb’, complete with the trademark Jinnah cap, to wrest an Islamic republic on false pretexts by promising the unsuspecting Muslims of India a false dream that he never delivered into reality.
The articulate Jinnah was a great impetus to the British colonials, as was Pakistan itself, which resulted in the cutting up of the Indian subcontinent.
History has born witness how the clever M.A. Jinnah and his creation of Pakistan have been a scourge for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent, who have been ravaged by war in Pakistan and by Pakistan, ever since its inception.
The much adored Maulana Abul Kalam Azad wrote, “The Muslim League entered into the second phase of its activities when it found that the Government was compelled to introduce some reforms as a result of Congress pressure. It was somewhat disturbed when it saw the Congress achieving its object step by step. The League still remained aloof from the political struggle but as soon as any advance was made, it put in a claim on behalf of the Muslim community.
This programme of the Muslim League suited the Government well. In fact there are reasons to think that the League was acting according to the wishes of the British. During the Morley-Minto Reforms as well as the Montford scheme of provincial autonomy, this was the attitude adopted by the League.
Then came the third phase in the League’s programme during World War II. Congress had gained immensely in prestige and strength. It was now clear that the British Government would have to recognise Indian freedom.
Jinnah had now become the leader of the Muslim League and felt that he must take advantage of every difference between the Congress and the Government.
Whenever there were discussions between the Congress and the Government for the transfer of power, Jinnah would in the beginning remain silent.
If the negotiations fail he would issue milk and water statement condemning both parties and saying that since there was no settlement there was no need for the Muslim League to express any opinion on the British offer.
This is what he did even during the August offer in 1940 and the Cripps proposals of 1942. The Simla Conference presented him with a new situation that he had never faced before.”
India faced two major issues in dealing with the British. First, the independence of India and second, the communal issue. Based on the ideas of Lord Wavell, important breakthrough was achieved at the Simla conference.
Maulana Azad was able to persuade the Congress Working Committee to accept Lord Wavell’s plan, which consisted of the idea that the British would decisively tackle the issue of Indian independence after the war.
In the mean time, with India on the allied/British side, there would be preparation for the independent India, with the Indians taking charge of the governance of country.
Although this was the first successful negotiation with the British regarding the political issue of independence, the Shimla Conference got stalled on the communal lines.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad wrote, “Now that the political issue between India and Britain seemed on the point of solution, the Conference broke down over the question of communal representation in the new Executive Council.
… Congress had taken a national stand on this question while the Muslim League demanded that the Congress should give up its national character and function as a communal organization. Jinnah took the strange stand that the Congress could nominate only Hindu members of the Executive Council. I asked the Conference what right Jinnah or the Muslim League has to dictate whom the Congress should nominate.”
Maulana Azad goes further to say that, “Jinnah had lost much of his political importance after he left the Congress in the twenties. It was largely due to Gandhiji’s acts of commission and omission that Jinnah regained his importance in Indian political life.In fact, it is doubtful if Jinnah could have ever achieved supremacy but for Gandhi’s attitude, Jinnah exploited the situation fully and built up his own position but he did not say or does anything which could in any way help the cause of Indian freedom.”
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar elaborated on the word ‘fraternity’ explaining that ‘fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians’. Muslims and Hindus throughout the country were against the two-nation theory and partition of India.
Even up to the time when the matter of partition was being supported in many quarters as the only solution, large sections of Indian Muslims were opposed to partition.
In the Frontier province, Khudai Khidmatgar Party of Sarhadi Gandhi Abdul Ghaffar Khan, in Punjab the Unionist Party of Khizar Hayat Khan, in Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference Party, in Sindh G.M. Syed’s Party, and National Muslim parties like Jamiatul Ulema, Jamaat-e-Islami, MajilsAhrar, Khaksar Movement, etc. were strong opponents of partition.
For further details the readers can refer to the writings of G. Hasnain Kaif, on how ‘8 Muslim Parties Opposed Partition’.
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