Jinnah’s Move Appreciated by his Opponent Lord Willingdon, the Viceroy
Jinnah’s victory was further substantiated by the Viceroy. On February 9, 1935 the Viceroy Lord Willingdon sent a telegram to the Secretary of State for India, informing him that the Congress’ move of rejecting the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) Report as a whole for the last two months had lost in the Indian Assembly. It also had been accepted by the Assembly. The Congress finally “surrendered” and “swallowed the bitter pill and agreed to have both parts put together, though it involved accepting provincial autonomy which their own resolution wanted to reject”. Having secured the Congress’ surrender, Jinnah was very happy that he was able to get Congress’ consent at least on the provincial autonomy. He rightly understood the minds of the Congress leadership as well as those of Hindu Mahasabha.
On April 22, 1935 Jinnah addressed a function arranged by the Bombay Muslim Students’ Union in which he gave his assessment that the Hindu Mahasabha had made the situation difficult. In this respect Jinnah said:
The position of the Hindu Mahasabha made not only the position of the Muslims difficult but also made the position of the Congress difficult. So far as the Hindu Mahasabha was concerned, every pronouncement it made, or any course of action it adopted, was calculated to show to the Muslims that the Mahasabha was dominated by the one consideration – the main consideration – that in India there should be complete supremacy and ascendancy of Hindus.
When the Muslims realized that was the attitude and mentality of the Hindu Mahasabha, their position became difficult. The Muslims naturally asked: ‘What is going to be our position in the future Government of India? When this great country gets self-government, are we to be under the rule of the Hindus?’
How could they, therefore, expect the Muslims to join hands whole-heartedly with the Hindus and share in the struggle for freedom? Unless that mentality underwent a complete change, it would be very difficult indeed for the Hindus and Muslims to work whole-heartedly together.1
Jinnah’s View of Congress as Representative of Hindu India Authenticated by 1937 Elections
There are some adverse comments on Jinnah and the Muslim League by certain writers with reference to their performance in the elections of 1937. The reality is least understood by most of the Indian and Pakistani writers. The reality is that by 1937 Jinnah’s message and Iqbal’s idea of Muslim State advanced at Allahabad in December 1930 at the Muslim League’s session and had become popular amongst the Muslim masses. The only difficulty was that the provincial Muslim leadership was not united behind the Muslim League and Jinnah. But Jinnah’s message was well understood by the Muslims of the whole of British India. The greatest example was in the elections of 1937 where although the Muslim League could not win more than 25% seats in the Provincial Assemblies, yet at the same time the Indian Muslims as a whole showed their distrust in the Congress by not voting for Hindu leadership. Out of 482 seats allocated for Muslims in all the eleven provinces, it was only against 58 seats that Congress put up its own candidates and, of these, only 26 won,2 of which 15 belonged to the NWFP. In ten other provinces, Congress had, therefore, won only 7 seats, i.e., about 5% of the total seats reserved for the Muslims.3 The Muslim leadership became united after the elections of 1937 when Jawaharlal Nehru announced in April 1937 that Hindu Raj had come and all the other minorities should line up behind the Congress.4 At Lucknow Sessions of the All India Muslim League held on October 15-18, 1937 not only the Muslim League leaders became united but Chief Ministers like that of the majority provinces of the Punjab and Bengal belonging to the other parties also came to assure Jinnah that they were all united against the threat of Hindu Raj posed by the Congress or the Hindu Mahasabha to the Muslims. In this connection, the assurances to Jinnah by Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, Chief Minister of Punjab, Maulvi A. K. Fazlul Haq, Chief Minister of Bengal, and Sir Saadullah Khan, the Premier of Assam that for the cause of Muslim freedom at the national level they were with him, were of great surprise to the world. The Congress leadership including those of Gandhi, Nehru and others felt threatened. Jinnah accepted their hand of cooperation, though some Muslim League leaders also could not understand Jinnah’s larger strategy.
Jinnah Unites Muslim Leaders of Majority Muslim Provinces in Lucknow, October 1937
In his presidential address at Lucknow Sessions of the AIML held on October 15-18, 1937 Jinnah gave full charter for the freedom of the Muslims of South Asia. Jinnah termed this session as one held under the “most critical” circumstances in more than thirty years’ of the League’s existence. The issues which he touched in his long speech related to the history of the AIML and its failed efforts to build up cooperation with the Congress despite the successful conclusion of Lucknow Pact of 1916, dangers to the very existence of AIML from the Congress leadership, dichotomy in the words and deeds of the Congress leadership – including those of M. K. Gandhi, the Congress challenged not only to the AIML but to the very existence of the Muslims in British India, and disunity amongst the Muslims themselves, etc. In this scenario Jinnah gave a Charter for the Muslim freedom by suggesting various steps such as organization of the Muslims around the AIML, smaller Muslim parties to rally round the AIML, to awaken the Muslims to the reality that they were a separate nation whose existence was not tolerated by the Congress and Mahasabha leadership.5
Gandhi, Nehru, and Bose Alarmed by Jinnah’s Speech at Lucknow, October 1937
As a matter of fact, Gandhi had felt antagonized by Jinnah’s address at the Lucknow session of AIML of October 1937 which he, in his letter of October 19, 1937, described as “a declaration of war” to which Jinnah, in his reply to Gandhi on November 5, 1937, tactfully explained that what he said was “purely self defence”.6 Nehru also tried to befool Jinnah by writing a letter to Jinnah on January 18, 1938 in which he showed his ignorance to understand the Muslim issue and showed his desire to discuss the matters in a meeting. Jinnah fully understood this willful ignorance of Nehru. In reply, Jinnah showed his readiness to meet Nehru, but he explained that he would talk to him with reference to the Fourteen Points starting with the Lucknow Pact of 1916.7 Despite receiving this letter of Jinnah, Nehru forgot to meet him, but replied on April 6, 1938. Jinnah replied on April 12,1938 in which he said that “it has been to me a most painful reading” because “you twisted” the matter. Towards the end of his letter, Jinnah made it clear that “in my opinion unless the Congress recognizes the Muslim League on a footing of complete equality and is prepared as such to negotiate for a Hindu-Muslim settlement, we shall have to wait and depend upon our inherent strength which will determine the measures of importance and distinction it possesses”.8 After the failure of Gandhi and Nehru to befool Jinnah, came Subhas Chandra Bose, President of Indian National Congress, to confuse Jinnah with regard to what Jinnah said at Lucknow Muslim League session in October 1937. Initially, Bose had a meeting with Jinnah on May 14, 1938 followed by a number of letters. Jinnah also conveyed to him the Muslim League Council’s resolution that “it is not possible for the All India Muslim 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”.9
Jinnah Terms Congress Rule as Hindu Raj in 6 Hindu Majority Provinces during 1937-1939
The next challenge which Jinnah faced was the Congress Rule in six provinces. The Congress rule was installed in six Hindu majority provinces of UP, Central Provinces (CP), Bihar, Orissa, Madras and Bombay in July 1937 after getting certain assurances from the Governors. The Congress’ reign was also established in NWFP in September 1937 after bribing certain members of NWFP against the Ministry of Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum. Since this was a Muslim majority area, the Congress did not provoke the Muslims in this province. The Congress ministries in these provinces continued to rule until November/December 1939.
The Congress-led ministries in six Hindu majority provinces acted against the interests of the Muslims. The Muslim culture, interests, institutions and Urdu language were suppressed in these Hindu majority provinces. As a matter of fact, Jinnah had been urging the British Central Government to appoint a Royal Commission to probe into the cruel actions of the Congress ministries in the six provinces, but this demand was not given any weight in the official circles because of the risk that the Congress high command might dislike it. When this was not accomplished, the Muslim League appointed its own committees to report on the Congress’ high-handedness in their treatment of the Muslims and to prove whether it was merely an allegation or based on facts. As a result of this, two reports were completed – Pirpur Report which probed the allegations in the UP, and the Sharif Report which probed the allegations in Bihar. According to Khalid bin Sayeed, the Muslim allegations were proved and a number of steps taken by the Congress government against the Muslims were particularly pointed out.10 The same was substantiated in Bihar by the Sharif Report.11 Even A. K. Fazlul Haq prepared a pamphlet titled “Muslim Sufferings Under Congress Rule” which also substantiated the Congress’ cruelties upon the Muslims in a number of provinces.12 These reports produced a far-reaching effect on the Muslims.
Jinnah’s other strategy was to hold Provincial Conferences in a number of provinces just to highlight the Muslim grievances as he did in Bengal, Bihar, UP, Bombay, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, and Sindh. These Conferences were successfully held and the Muslims of these provinces were made aware of the Congress policies of the Hindu Raj. During this period of the Hindu Raj (1937-1939) three sessions of the AIML – October 1937 at Lucknow, Calcutta Session of April 17-18 in 1938, and the Patna Session of December 26-29 in 1938 – were arranged to make aware the Muslims as well as the British Government of the Congress’ atrocities against the Muslims. This bore fruit, not only did the Muslims galvanize around AIML, but the British Government was also convinced that what Jinnah was saying was right. In his statement before the British Parliament, Lord Zetland, Secretary of State for India, explained that the Congress has functioned as it was a “Hindu organization”, a statement disliked by Gandhi.13
Resignation of Congress Ministries and Celebration of December 22, 1939 as the Day of Deliverance
Gandhi and the Congress disliked such statements against the Congress rule in the six Hindu majority provinces. When World War I started, there were a number of meetings of the British Viceroy of India with Gandhi, Jinnah and other leaders. When Gandhi and other Congress leadership decided to give a hard time to the British Government to not support them in the war efforts, Jinnah took the opportunity to support the British in the war matters. Jinnah’s assurances were given weight because 50% of the armed personnel who were fighting in different corners of the world for the British were the Muslims who came to have love for the Quaid. Annoyed by this assurance of Jinnah, the Congress leadership thought to put pressure on the Government by resigning from the Ministries in November 1939. When this happened, Jinnah advanced the concept of celebration of December 22, 1939 as the Day of Deliverance from the Congress Raj, a celebration in which not only the Muslims but all the minorities including those of the lower classes of the Hindus of British India participated. Thus the Congress rule ended and Jinnah was able to step on towards the concept of Pakistan in March 1940.
The Government was deeply influenced by this Day of Deliverance and issued a statement that the Federal Scheme of the Government of India Act 1935 was “suspended.” Jinnah expressed his satisfaction in his statement of December 25, 1939 and hoped for the moment when the scheme “is definitely buried”.14 S. P. Rath, Editor of the New Orissa, declared the Day of Deliverance as a Red Letter Day in the annals of political history of India because on this day thousands of Muslims and Hindus came together to pay their gratitude to God for delivering them from a nightmare of intolerance and authoritarianism. M. C. Rajah, President of All India Association of Depressed Classes, welcomed Quaid’s declaration and strongly supported the demand for setting up of a Royal Commission to look into the misdeeds of the Congress ministries.15
Jinnah’s Demand for Pakistan, 23rd March 1940
Now Jinnah was ready to speak openly for Pakistan at the time when he cashed in the moment in favor of his new course of history, i.e., the road to establish Pakistan. That was also done tactfully and with so much care that his opponents both within and without could not dodge him or stab him from the back. He could approach the British Government directly, but for the Congress, being the greatest enemy, he had gained strength on how to tackle them in terms of arguments in the public field because he had mobilized the Muslim masses of both the majority Muslim provinces and the minority provinces in favor of the goal of Pakistan. A goal that already had its introduction at the Muslim League’s Allahabad session in December 1930. In 1933, Chaudhry Rehmat Ali had coined the word ‘Pakistan’ for the concept of a Muslim State in Indo-Pak subcontinent in this connection.
When the ground had been prepared, Jinnah announced the holding of next 27th session of All India Muslim League in Lahore on March 22-24, 1940. Thus the scheme of Pakistan prepared by Quaid-i-Azam was presented in the form of a resolution. As the language of the resolution runs, it was put: “Resolved that it is the considered view of the session of the All India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz., that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial re-adjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India, should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”16 In his Presidential Address, the Quaid also said: “We find that even according to the British map of India, we occupy large parts of this country where the Mussalmans are in a majority — such as Bengal, Punjab, NWFP, Sind and Baluchistan.”17 He also declared: “Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homelands, their territory and their State.”18
As Jinnah planned, the resolution was moved by A. K. Fazlul Haq, Premier of Bengal. Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, a leader from UP seconded it. Others who spoke in favor of this resolution were Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, the editor of the popular Urdu daily Zamindar, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan, the Leader of Opposition in the NWFP Assembly, Sir Abdullah Haroon – a veteran leader from Sindh, Khan Bahadur Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan, the President of the U.P. Muslim League, Mohammad Isa Khan, the President of Balochistan Muslim League, Abdul Hamid Khan, the Leader of the Muslim Party in the Madras Assembly, I. I. Chundrigar, the Deputy Leader of the Muslim League party in the Bombay Assembly, Syed Abdur Rauf Shah, the President of the C.P. Muslim League, Dr. Mohammad Alam from the Punjab, Syed Zakir Ali, Begum Mohammad Ali who was the widow of late Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, and Maulana Abdul Hamid.19 The resolution was passed on 24th March “unanimously amid great enthusiasm.”20 This reflected the unity of the Muslims of the subcontinent belonging to both the majority and minority Muslim provinces of British India who fully supported the Quaid in his scheme of Pakistan.
This was not entirely a new idea. Various ideas for the division of South Asian subcontinent into Hindu zones and Muslim zones had already been put forward. John Bright in the late 19th century was the first to suggest in this direction. There were other British, Muslim and Hindu visionaries who put forth the ideas of partition of the subcontinent. All these ideas were nothing but merely talking into thin air and had nothing to do with the favorable public opinion. It goes to the credit of Quaid-i-Azam and his followers that first they mobilized Muslim public’s opinion, both in the historical and political sense, and then presented the idea. The idea coming in this background duly enjoyed the backing of the whole of Muslim India. The leaders of the majority Muslim provinces expressed their willingness to accept this. At the same, it was supported by the leaders of the minority Muslim provinces. The common factor which bounded the Muslims of both these areas was the fear of Hindu Raj and what it meant, duly exhibited in a number of Hindu writings and speeches by certain Hindu leaders. Thus, the State of Pakistan was designed to serve the purpose of both the majority Muslim areas as well as those of the minority Muslim areas.
Quaid-i-Azam was the leader who had a strong sense of history. He not only rightly interpreted the historical development in the contemporary realities but he was also a person who thought in the line of giving new direction to history. He also understood the main forces that shaped history. At the international and national level, it was the British Government which formed the greatest force of history. In the internal political developments, it was the Indian National Congress leaders who were another big factor in history representing the Hindu majority’s will. Jinnah, in his long political career of working with the Congress leaders since his entry into politics in 1897, had visualized that the Congress leaders were not allowing the Muslims any respectable position in the body politics of South Asia. In making the Muslims a third majority power factor of South Asia, Jinnah got the chance when World War II started in September 1939. On this issue he challenged the British masters and made them realize that the Muslims are a third major factor without whose approval the future of South Asia could not be determined. Through his wise policies Quaid-i-Azam brought unity amongst the rank and file of the Muslims of the subcontinent. After having achieved this unity during 1935-1939, he presented the goal of Pakistan for their approval in March 1940. Now with the complete support of united Muslims, he was ready to deal with the Congress leaders.
The Lahore session of the AIML was closely watched by the Governor of the Punjab, Sir Henry Duffield Craik. He sent his secret report to the Viceroy on March 25, 1940 in which he wrote: “The session of the Muslim League finished last night and I am glad to be able to report that my Ministers have emerged comparatively unscathed from a situation that at one time seemed extremely critical.”21 He also wrote: “As regards the result of the Muslim League session, I imagine you are in as good a position to appreciate these as I am. My own impression is that the influence and that the unanimity and enthusiasm shown at the session have given the League a position of far greater authority than it previously enjoyed.”22
At that time Lord Zetland was the functioning Secretary of State for India. When he heard of the popularity of the Muslim demand, his first reaction was the realization that he could not avoid expressing his hostility to the Pakistan demand, a stance least liked by the Home Government and Linlithgow. Writing to Lord Linlithgow in April 1940, Zetland observed:
British Government Decides not to Oppose the Demand for Pakistan Publically because of Jinnah’s Popularity
In a number of telegrams, the Viceroy had advised the Secretary of State for India and the Home Government not to publically express their opposition to the Pakistan demand. This was thought because of the fact that the idea had firmly gained ground in the Muslim minds. What was desired by the Viceroy was a policy of the British Government by which sympathy to the Pakistan demand was to be shown before the public as long as the World War II was continuing. And that after the war comes to an end, the British should resort to devise their policy in this connection. In another telegram in April 1940, the Viceroy advised the Secretary of State for India:
Explaining it further in his telegram of April 8, Viceroy made it more clear to the Secretary of State that while he fully appreciates the impressions of the Secretary of State with which he entirely sympathized, as regards the Muslim partition plan, he would again emphasize the great importance of saying nothing which would antagonize the Muslims and of avoiding any direct attack on them. The British Government, the Viceroy continued, should be careful enough while handling this issue so long as the war was ongoing. At the end of the war, as promised by the Government, the British Government would consider the situation and decide the matter to the entire satisfaction of the all the parties and communities.25
Lord Zetland, Secretary of State for India, was also giving serious thought to what the Viceroy Linlithgow had written to him on Jinnah’s scheme of Pakistan. Zetland took into confidence the British Prime Minister and other policymakers of the Home Government. After thorough homework, Zetland wrote to Linlithgow on April 24, 1940:
Linlithgow discussed the view of the Secretary of State with his Cabinet and some provincial governors. Other key advisers of the government were also consulted. After thorough homework, the Viceroy replied to the Secretary of State in June 1940 in which his assessment of Jinnah’s scheme of Pakistan was as follows:
On Jinnah’s scheme of Pakistan, the British Government, both in India and London, were disturbed. Some thought this idea of Pakistan by Jinnah, was a “bargaining counter” to deal with both Congress as well with the Government. Others thought differently as seen before. But Jinnah was very sincere in his demand for Pakistan. The British rulers were careful enough to express publicly on this issue for fear of reaction from the Muslim public whose majority had come to be commanded by Jinnah’s political leadership. It was with fears and doubts that the Viceroy, his advisers and the British tackled the political situation in British India, particularly the Pakistan demand.27
Thus the British Government as a whole came to accept that the Muslim public opinion is being “commanded by Jinnah’s political leadership”. The Government also came to develop such a policy, in such a state of affairs as in World War II, that publically the Government would show sympathy with the idea of Pakistan but secretly work for its failure because the Congress leadership was committed to unity of India at all costs. Thus the new situation developed.
August 1940 Offer – British Promise to Consider the Muslim League Demand for Pakistan after the War
It was in this scenario that the British Government decided to negotiate with Jinnah and the Congress leadership of Gandhi and Nehru. As a result of these negotiations, the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow announced on August 8, 1940 which is known as the “August Offer 1940” that “His Majesty’s Government authorize me to declare that they will most readily assent to the setting up after the conclusion of the war, with the least possible delay of a body representative of the principal elements in India’s national life in order to devise the framework of the new constitution and they will lend every aid in their power to hasten decisions on all relevant matters to the utmost degree”28. It was also made clear in this statement that “His Majesty’s Government’s concern that full weight should be given to the views of the minorities in any revision has also been brought out. That remains the position of His Majesty’ Government”.29 The Viceroy also wanted to form his War Cabinet in which he wanted representatives of the Muslim League and Congress should also participate.
(To be continued)
The writer is Ex-Director, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, and Professor at Quaid-i-Azam Chair (NIPS), Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]
1. Times of India, 23 April 1935.
2. Indian Annual Register 1937, Vol. I, pp. 168-a-168b.
3. Ibid., p. 168b.
5. Pirzada, Foundations of Pakistan, Vol. II, pp. 239-246.
6. Times of India, 16 June 1938.
7. Indian Annual Register January-June 1938, Vol. I, pp. 369-370.
8. Ibid., pp. 374-375.
9. Riaz Ahmad, Pakistan Movement: New Dimensions 1935-1948, pp. 95-96.
10. Khalid bin Sayeed, Pakistan: The Formative Phase, 1857-1948, Karachi, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 97-98.
11. I. H. Qureshi, The Struggle for Pakistan, Karachi, University of Karachi, 1997, p.87.
13. Indian Annual Register 1939, Vo. II, pp. 38-39.
14. Times of India, 27 December 1939.
16. S.S.Pirzada (ed.), Foundations of Pakistan: All India Muslim League Documents 1906-1947, Vol. II, Islamabad, NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2007, p. 312.
17. Ibid., p. 306.
18. Ibid., p. 310.
19. Ibid., pp. 311-315.
20. Ibid., p. 315.
21. Craike to Linlithgow, 25 March 1940, Linlithgow Papers, Eur. Mss. F. 125/89, British Library (OIOC), London.
23. Zetland to Linlithgow, 5 April 1940, Linlithgow Papers, Eurr. Mss., F. 125/9.
24. Viceroy to Secretary of State (telegram), 6 April 1940, Eur. Mss. F. 125/19, British Library (OIOC), London.
25. Viceroy to Secretary of State, 8 April 1940, Eur. Mss. F. 125/19, British Library (OIOC), London.
26. Zetland to Linlithgow, 24 April 1940, Linlithgow Papers, Eur. Mss. F. 125/19, British Library (OIOC), London.
28. H. N. Mitra (ed.), The Indian Annual Register 1940, Vol. II, New Delhi, Gian Publishing House, 1990, pp. 372-373.
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