Wednesday, September 3, 2014
India's Partition-Part VII
Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Muslim league, India’s partition and beyond:
Our views, vision and opinions will definitely change with time, but when such changes in the attitudes of a leader takes a negative course, it may affect the fate of a nation. Yes, the change in the attitudes of Jinnah, the brilliant lawyer, together with the then political situation, had ultimately led to the partition of India.
-Sarojini Naidu had once called him “the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity“ in 1916....Once he had said that all the religious community could live in peace in one India.
-But now (1930’s onwards) the old ambassador had other dreams. Now he stressed the divisions between Hindu and Islam...“The Hindus worship the cow, “he had shouted.”We eat it.” Evil winds had begun to blow in northern India.
-The league was a motley collection of small landlords, would be entrepreneurs, city lawyers and bandwagon petit bourgeois. It had been set up on a British initiative in 1906 and its founders had pledged their unswerving loyalty to the empire.
-The Muslim league leader was not a religious leader. For him Islam was a useful weapon with which he could carve out an independent political base for his followers.
-Jinnah told the Muslim peasants that in Hindu dominated India, they would be eaten alive by the Hindu money lenders; he told the Muslim Landlords that without British protection they would be overwhelmed by the Hindu Capitalists; he told the Muslim Merchants and traders that they needed a Muslim chamber of commerce or else the competition with the Hindus would destroy them completely.
When Nehru saw in the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow’s statement a “divide and rule” psychology, he pleaded( a very touching letter indeed) to Jinnah not to succumb to this, but to no avail.
-Jinnah was cool and unresponsive. For him the Congress’s difficulties were the League’s opportunities. When Gandhi appealed to him a few months later for a united effort on behalf of India against the British, Jinnah replied that there were two nations in India, one Hindu and one Muslim.
The Congress ministers resigned in protest to the Viceroy’s divide and rule policy; The League’s newspaper ‘Dawn’, was funded by the British during this period.
-The job of unifying India was the dream of every nationalist. At the time when it appeared to be nearing fulfilment, the British authorities decided to play the Muslim card.
-On 16th August 1946, 5000 people died in Calcutta as a result of the Muslim League’s ‘Direct Action Day.’
-The blood that has been spilt had made an early reconciliation between the Muslim League and Congress impossible. The Muslim Congress men, men of the calibre of Abul kalam Azad( a distinguished theologian and scholar who understood more about Islam than Jinnah ever would) Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and others were, opposed to any deals with league.
-(After partition) Abul Kalam Azad had appealed to Delhi Muslims not to flee to Pakistan. He had spoken in chaste and simple Urdu, appealing to the traditions of old Delhi, reminding them of Akbar’s reign, pleading with them not to leave their homes and telling them that, he Azad, would never leave Chandni Chowk for any so-called paradise(Pakistan).
-Reluctantly and with great sadness, Gandhi and Nehru had agreed to the partition. Very few believed that it would actually come to true.
-Even Jinnah had remained confused seeing the division as a separation rather than a divorce. He told his friends that he still hoped to spend some time every year in his favorite Indian city, Bombay. He had conceived of Pakistan as a mini-India with a sizable minority of Hindus and Sikhs.
-Mountbatten later recalled: Jinnah produced the strongest arguments why these provinces-Punjab and Bengal- should not be partitioned. He said they had national Characteristics and the partition would be disastrous. I agreed, but I said how much more must I now feel that the same considerations applied to portioning the whole of India....Finally he realised that either he could have a united India with an unpartitioned Punjab and Bengal or a divided India with a partitioned P &B and he finally accepted the latter situation.
-Jinnah had brought religion into politics in an opportunist fashion, but he alone could not be held responsible for the debacle: he had merely taken advantage of the existing situations. Congress could not be absolved, for it had played its part in creating the overall situation.