Some historical aspects of the Hindo-Muslim conflict in India to 1940

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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of History The University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

by James Gregory McAree June 1950

UMI Number: EP59612

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T h is thesis, w ritte n by



under the guidance of h.X$... F a c u lty C om m ittee, and app ro ved by a l l its members, has been presented to and accepted by the C o uncil on G ra d u ate S tudy and Research in p a r t ia l f u l f i l l ­ ment o f the requirements f o r the degree of

Mas ter...of...Arts


Faculty Committee






P O L I T I C A L ...........................


The p r o b l e m ......................................


Statement of the problem and organization of the t h e s i s ..................................


Factors of unity and fission in India ...........



Political India to 1900 .......... The Hindu p e r i o d ..............................


The Muslim p e r i o d ..............................


The political consequences of British a s c e n d e n c y .................................. II.



. . . .

Congress becomes militant

16 26



The Morley-Minto reforms and founding of the Muslim L e a g u e .......... Towards communal cooperation III.

32 ...................





The Lucknow pact and r e f o r m .....................


The Khilafat interlude and decline of c o o p e r a t i o n .................................... The communal chasm widens . . . . . IV.




58 84

i i i


PAGE The Nehru report:

Constitutional pronouncements


and party r e a c t i o n s ........................ The statutory commission:

Its work, report,


and recommendations........................ The Round Table conference! and the Act of 1935 ' . » V.




Reactions to the Act and theelection of 1937

91 • •


Formation of the ministries and the league revival to the outbreak of

war in 1939 . . . .


Congress, the league, war, and the Pakistan p r o n o u n c e m e n t ................. 1 ............... VI.C O N C L U S I O N S ........................................ BIBLIOGRAPHY .............................................

108 120 127

FOREWORD The present study was undertaken after two years of investigation into the political problems which have divided the Indian Muslims from their Hindu neighbours.

The Hindu

arguments, perhaps it would be more correct to say the Congress arguments, were made familiar to western students, of India through the books of Jawaharlal Nehru and the public pronouncements of Mahatma Gandhi.

They gained the

sympathetic ear of many Americans and of most opponents of "British Imperialism in India,lt an imperialism which was characterized as having created and succored Hindu-Muslim antipathy.

The Hindu-Muslim conflict reveals evidences of

deep-seated religious prejudices and economic separatism which cannot be explained solely in terms of imperialism. In gathering the materials for this thesis the writer was fortunate in gaining access to hitherto inaccessible documents and books which presented both sides of the HinduMuslim conflict.

These materials have revealed a certain

justification of the Muslim position in a manner which would lead a dispassionate student to question some of the Con­ gress arguments.

For that reason the present paper may

appear to have an anti-Congress bias which the writer would rather call a pro-Muslim sympathy.

Two things can be pled

in defence of this sympathy; first, that it was formed as


the result of serious study which started with a tendency to favour the Congress arguments, and, second, that it is in conflict with those opinions which are acquainted only with the Hindu documents and books. The writer wishes to express his gratitude to his committee for their generous assistance in drawing the final draft of this thesis.

Dr. T. Walter Wallbank spent much of

his time directing research and offering valuable advice on the subject matter.

Thanks are due, also, to Dr. Russell L.

Caldwell and Dr. Francis L. Bowman for their advice and corrections of the manuscript.

To Sir Robert Holland,

K.C.E.I., of Victoria, B.C., the writer wishes to express his deep gratitude.

Sir Robert generously opened his

library and personal papers for the advancement of this study, and also offered advice made valuable through many years experience in the Indian Civil Service.



The partition of India into two states, the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India, in August, 19^7, must necessarily involve a revaluation of Indian history in the British period to determine the cultural and political dis­ tinctions which divided Hindus and Muslims.

Partition was

rooted in religio-cultural disparity and also drew nourish­ ment from Indian nationalism.

This study is concerned with

a review of one phase of the political struggle which engaged the energies of the two largest religious communities of India each of which was represented by a political party.



During the years 1928 to 19^0, and side by side with Indian nationalist agitation for constitutional reforms and political independence from Great Britain, a second struggle was being waged which involved the divergent constitutional aspirations of the All-India National Congress Party and the Muslim League.

Both parties were interested in winning

freedom from British control but each sought independence on its own terms.

While Congress claimed to speak for all

Indians regardless of cultural backgrounds or religion, the

League insisted that it alone could speak for Indian Muslims. Statement of the problem and organization of the thesis.

This study concerns itself with the political

rivalry between Congress and the League viewed from the long perspective of Hindu-Muslim conflict in India.

The reli­

gious and cultural distinctions between the two largest communal groups in Indian society was transferred to the political arena early in the twentieth century.

Though one

serious effort was made to unite the two parties behind a common program from 1916 to 1922, religious dissension finally broke the alliance.

One further attempt was made

in 1928 to combine the power of Congress and the League for the purpose of forcing constitutional reforms from the British Parliament.

In that year a Congress-sponsored Con­

ference drafted a constitution for India which proved wholly unsatisfactory to the Muslims and frustrated further hopes for cooperation between the parties.

Through the 1930,s as

it became increasingly evident that the Paramount Power, Britain, was preparing to withdraw from its position as constitutional and political arbiter in India, party con­ flicts sharpened until, in 19^0, the Muslim League announced that it had determined upon the partition of India as the only satisfactory solution to the communal conflict. The first chapter of this paper considers the cultural

3 and political backgrounds of the Hindus and Muslims touching upon the factors of geography, race, religion, esthetics, and economics which argued for unity or fission in Indian society.

A brief survey of pre-British India serves to

orient Hindu-Muslim rivalry as a prelude to the entry of Britain into Indian politics.

Further consideration is then

centered upon the separate religious and political revivals in each community during the nineteenth century which finally lead toward political nationalism. Chapter II studies the growth of communalism in the first decade of the twentieth century with the rise of Congress nationalism and the founding of the Muslim League. Chapter III discusses the rise and decline of politi­ cal cooperation between Congress and the League beginning with the ”Lucknow Pact” of 1916 which ended with the Moplah rebellion of 1921 and the subsequent growth of communal violence. Chapter IV surveys the stiffening of political lines between Congress and the League during the years 1928 to 1935.

These years were marked by unusual activity in the

sphere of constitutional politics beginning in 1928 with the Congress-inspired ”Nehru Report.”

The chapter then discusses

the Simon Report, the Round Table Conference Reports and, finally, the Government of India Act, 1935.


/ Chapter V reviews the failure of the Act of 1935 to satisfy the demands of Congress nationalism and to safeguard the minority rights of Muslims.

We then see how this leads

to the enunciation by the Muslim League of the "two nations theory” and the ultimate demand in 1940 for the partition of India into separate Hindu and Muslim states. Chapter VI presents a summary and conclusions of the entire study.

II. —


In all countries of great size there are certain

factors which lead towards unity or separatism. continent of India is no exception.

The sub­

Here we see features

of geography, racial homogeneity, religious rivalry, and economics, each one of which has some important bearing upon the political life of the country. On the surface, geography and race might argue for unity.

However, the other factors may be sufficiently valid

so as to outweigh all considerations of geography and race. With the facts of topography and natural frontiers one can­ not argue.

Notwithstanding the physical characteristics

which divide India internally, a glimpse at a map reveals the subcontinent as a unified whole from the Himalayas in

the north to Cape Cormorin in the South.^

In fact, though,

the relationship between geography and the religio-cultural distribution of Indian peoples does appear to be of con­ siderable importance.

That part of northwest India which

Is drained by the Indus and its tributaries is largely inhabited by Mussulmans, while the Ganges basin is domi­ nantly Hindu.

In the plain between the two river systems

the peoples intermingle.

To the east of the Ganges delta

lives an isolated Muslim majority.

The Deccan plateau of

central India and Tamil Land in the south are Hindu .2 Definite physical features in the terrain divide the four main areas from each other and so separate the peoples. Where fluvial communication has permitted intermingling of Hindus and Muslims certain political and economic Integra­ 'S tion has appeared in response to geography. Internal geography has largely served to isolate the two main reli­ gious communities of India from each other and so has made political unity a difficult, if not impossible, goal.1*'

* 1 C. B. Fawcett, A Political Geography of the British Empire (Londons University of London Press, Ltd., 193371 pp. 224-5.

2 H. G. Rawlinson, India, a Short Cultural History Appleton-Century Company, I 938), p. 4.


3 Reginald Coupland, The Indian Problem Oxford University Press, 1944), III, 101.

(New Yorks

^ With the exception of the British period in Indian History there has never been any real administrative unity in the sub-continent.

6 Ethnic identity of Hindus and Muslims has also been employed as a factor in asserting Indian unity.5 mentally they are of the same race.


However, M. A. Jinnah,

the late distinguished leader of the Muslim League, rejected the concept of an unified Indian nationality insisting instead that religion was the real distinction between Hindu and Muslim.7

All questions of racial origins aside, the two

peoples of India draw their inspiration from different well­ ed springs of history. Dr. Ambedkar, the leader of the pari­ ahs of India, expresses the opinion that the antagonism between the two peoples is formed by religious, cultural, and social antipathy.9 One Muslim writer says that the Hindu masses do not have a concept of statehood or nationhood, that the father­ land of the Hindu Is his caste, while the Muslim has a

5 Jawaharlal Nehru, Toward Freedom John Day Company, 1941), p . 3&5.

(New York:


6 Rawlinson, o p . cit., p. 1. 7 "Presidential Address Delivered at the Lucknow Session of the All-India Muslim League, in October, 1937*” Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah, collected and edited by Jami1-ud-Din Ahmad [Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1943),.pp. 23-35.

8 Geoffery T. Garratt, An Indian Commentary


J. Cape, 1928), p.,174. India

9 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or the Partition of (Bombay: Thacker and Co., Ltd., 1946), p. 119.

7 consciousness of separation from other Indians through his extraterritorial allegiance to Islam .10

A Hindu author, on

the other hand, remarks bitterly that so long as the Muslims ruled India they thought of the country as their motherland without considerations of racial distinction between themselves and the Hindus .11 Though the separate race idea expressed by Jinnah and the Muslim partisans may belong to the realm of theory and may be contravened by.all of the facts of race as known to the anthropologist, it is apparent that there is a deepseated distinction between the two peoples.

Sir Muhammad

Iqbal, the distinguished Islamic scholar and poet, described the communal question as an "international problem" and not 12 a matter of mere religious antagonism. In India religion is the supreme reality of life.

It cuts across political,

social, and economic barriers and rests at the very base of the Hindu-Muslim controversy.1^

Regardless of theories

10 F. K. Khan Durrani, The Meaning of Pakistan (Lahore:

Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 19Kb), p . 23.

11 V. B. Kulkarni, Is Pakistan Necessary


Hind Kitabs Press, 19^4), p. 23. ^ "Presidential Address of Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal delivered at the Allahabad Session of the All-India Muslim League in December 1930*" App., Durrani, o£. cit., p. 171. Report of the Indian Statutory Commission H. M. Stationery Office, 1930), cmd., 356b, p. 24.



concerning racial distinction, religion alone is valid as an argument favouring social fission. Babu Rajendra Prasad, one of the prominent All-India Congress leaders, has insisted that religious friction was created by the British as a diversion to quell nationalist ambitions.12*

He is supported by Pandit Nehru, who denies

that religion is a valid basis upon which to constitute political action in India.^5

One might ask whether it is

possible for a third party to perpetuate a religious divi­ sion and whether, in a country where religion is such an integral part of every-day life, it can be kept from enter­ ing the political picture? Alberuni, the court historian to Mahamud of Ghazni, writing in 1030 A.D. was quick to note the dissimilarities of the two faiths, remarking that: They totally differ from us in religion, as we believe in what they do not believe and vice versa . . .all their fanaticism is directed against those who do not belong to them--against all foreigners. They call them Melecheh, i.e., impure, and forbid having any connection with them, be It by marriage or any other kind of relationship, because they think they would be polluted. . . .They are not allowed to ^.6 receive anybody who does not belong to their religion.

l2* Rajendra Prasad, India Divided Kitabs Press, Ltd., 19*7), p. 88'. -



**•5 Jawaharlal Nehru, "The Parting of the Ways,” The Unity of India (London: Lindsay Drummond, 19^1)> p..3ooT Quoted in, Sir dar Ikbal Ali Shah, Pakistan: A Plan for India (London: Quality Press, Ltd., 19^5), P. 5. Translation from the original Ms. by Shah.

9 One modern Muslim writer draws a similar picture, noting how: Hindus will not drink the same water that a Muslim will drink or eat at the same table. On thousands of Railway platforms millions of Hindus every day estab­ lish the fact of two nations by insisting on Hindu Cha and Hindu Pani.17 Durrani insists that the Indian Muslim is obliged to stress his separate identity or sink into the abyss of Untouchability under the caste system of a Hindu Raj.1® A Hindu writer says that there is no reason to believe that Hindus and Muslims could not compose their differences in some agreement similar to that of the Pro­ testant-Roman Catholic understanding in Canada.1^

What is

lacking here is an appreciation that Indian religious dis­ tinctions are far greater than those between the Protestant and Catholic communions which stem from a common scriptural allegiance.

The analogy becomes strictly invalid in light

of the religious practices of Hinduism and Islam.


former is hierarchic, steeped in social Inequality, iconic, and does not seek converts.

It is pliant, adaptable, and

^ K. L. Gauba, The Consequences of Pakistan Lion Press, 1946), p. 13. -1*® Durrani, o£. cit., 113. Kulkarni, o£. cit., 105 .



capable of absorbing all manner of beliefs and precepts, but in social action it is rigid and e x c l u s i v e . M u h a m m e d a n i s m , on the other hand, is democratic, espouses an ethical philosophy not unlike that of Christianity, is iconoclastic, PI and proselytizing. The distinction, in short, is between a racial discipline which is exclusive and a system of ethics and social action. The factor of cultural identity is also employed by advocates of Indian unity who argue that Hinduism has affected Islamic-Indian arts.

Rajendra Prasad says that

Muslim architecture, decoration, painting, vocal music, and sculpture have all been influenced by Hinduism and that Islam has in turn modified Hindu e s t h e t i c s I n


community, however, one finds advocates of exclusive religiocultural nationalism.

V. B. Kulkarni, a member of the Hindu

Mahasaba,^3 gays that Hinduism is a religion, culture, and

2 cit.., p. 112. 23 This opinion was gathered in one of several inter­ views granted to the writer by Sir Robert Holland, K.C.I.E., who was a member of the Viceregal court at the time of the Muslim delegation’s appearance before Lord Minto. Sir Robert served in numerous positions with the Indian Civil Service from 1905 to 1942 and kindly shared his opinions with the writer. Subsequent references to these interviews will be cited as Holland. 2^ Minto to Morley, May 28 , 1906, Mary, Countess of Minto, op., cit.., pp. 28 -9 .

35 The decision to safeguard Muslim political rights was an immense relief to the countryfs administrators.


English official characterized Lord Mintofs reply as, "nothing less than pulling back of sixty-two millions of people from joining the ranks of the seditious opposi­ tion.

However, Lord Morely was less enthusiastic.


feared that separate representation of Muslims and Hindus in the Legislative Councils would result in racial


The proposal caused a split within the ranks of Con­ gress itself.

A moderate group led by G. K. Gokhale reported

to Minto that they were prepared to accept the idea of com­ munal electorates while the more radical faction led by Tilak rejected it completely.^

The Viceroy was convinced,

however, that the only effective answer to the extremists in Congress was an appeal to the moderates of both the Hindu and Muslim communities to back certain reforms which would retain British paramountcy while giving greater considera98 tion to Indian viewpoints. In this view he was supported by the Aga Khan, who had led the Muslim deputation at Simla

^5 Journal, October 1, 1906, ibid., pp. 47~8.

26 Morley to Minto, April 12, 1907* ibid., pp. 111-2. ^

Minto to Morley, October 31 * 1907* ibid., pp. l6l-2. Minto to Morley, May 28, 1906, ibid., pp. 28-9 .

36 and who issued instructions to the Ulemas of the Ismali mosques to pronounce anathema upon all Muslims who partici­ pated in seditious activities,2^ Meanwhile, the Muslims were preparing to set forth a political program of their own.

At the annual meeting of

the Muslim Educational Conference held at Delhi in January,

1908, the Muslim League was founded.

Its sponsor was the

Aga Khan, who is characterized by Sir Valentine Chirol as the heir to the mantle worn by Sir Seyed Ahmed Khan.30 Moreland and Chatterjee say that the: . . .prospect of constitutional changes brought home to the community the need for effective organization, new leaders now emerged, and henceforward the League was to play an important part in Indian p o l i t i c s . The program set forth at the first meeting of the League made no ambitious demands for self-government but asked for Mthe ordered development of the country under the Imperial Crown.n32

The Aga Khan presented a threefold platform,

(l) advancement of education, commerce, and industry,

(2 )

cooperation with the Hindus and other religious persuasions to advance social welfare, and (3 ) promotion of social

2^ Journal, February 9 > 1910 *ibid., p. 383 . 30 Moreland and Chatterjee, o p . cit.. p. 45. 3 1 Chirol, op., cit., p. 132. 32 ibid., p. 132-3 .

37 measures required exclusively by

M u s l i m s .


The announcement of the Morley-Minto Beforms preQii

cipitated the formation of the Muslim League.^

For the

first time since the origin of British rule the Indians were to play a prominent part in the decisions of the government and all moderate parties wished to cooperate and to advance the political developement of the country.35 The specific reforms decided upon by Morley and Minto were,

(l)recognition of the elective principle for the Pro­

vincial Councils,

(2) enlargement of the native element in

the Councils while retaining an official majority,


authority for Council discussions on any matter of public interest, including the budget policy of the government, and (H-) the establishment of separate electorates for reserved seated as a concession to Muslim

d e m a n d s :


The reforms were announced in December, 1908.


were received by the greater part of Indian opinion with a chorus of approval.

Even Surendraneth Bannerjee, one of

the most radical of Congress leaders,3^ was among the first

33 Ibid., 3^ Holland. 35

Mary, Countess of Minto, op., pit., p. 260 .

3^ The Indian Councils A c t , 1909 (9 Edw. VII, c. 4), and "Appendices I-IV .^1 37 Bannerjee was editor of the radical newspaper, Bengali, and in 1907 during celebrations of the fiftieth

38 oQ to thank the Viceroy for his service to India.

Hindus and

Muslims alike were Jubilant over the proposed reforms.


sense of harmony was noticeable in all political movements with the exception of Congress where the irreconcilable nationalists led by Tilak would have no part in the general celebrations'and, indeed, dedicated themselves to a new 39

program of violence. ^ One other notable feature of the reforms was the appointment of an orthodox Hindu, Mr. Satyendra Sinha, to the Viceroyfs C o u n c i l . M i n t o wrote a jubilant letter to Morley on April 1, 1909* telling him that the "Mohammedans and Hindus are getting up a congratulatory reception for ..ill Sinha. This was evidence that Britain was making sincere efforts to improve its trust in the Indian people, said

(Footnote 37 continued) anniversary of the Sepoy Mutiny had been crowned "King of Bengal" and carried through the streets of Calcutta with a group of figures representing Kali dancing on the body of a prostrate Englishman. Mary, Countess of Minto, o p . cit.., p.


Minto to Morley, December 24, 1908, ibid., 89 Chirol,






170-5 .

^ Minto and Morley, March 24, 1909, Mary, Countess of Minto, pp. pit., p. 286. ^

Minto to Morley, April 1, 1909* ibid.. p. 287 .

39 Sinha, and there was hope that the “beneficent rule 11 of England would lead to further reform. The reforms were not radical. indeed, conservative.


They were moderate,

But they were a step forward and all

religious communities

were anxious for their success.

Contrary to the .fears

that communal electorates might give

cause for racial friction the Hindus and Muslims approached one another through the years 1909-1916 with greater under­ standing than ever before.




The reasons given for the growth of communal under­ standing in the early years of the second decade of this century fall into two categories.

First, there are those

which argue that the economic and political interests of both groups were recognized for the first time to be iden­ tical.

Second, there are more moderate views which tend to

argue that the liberal Indian political leaders, both Hindu and Muslim, were anxious to make the Morley-Minto reforms function as a prelude to further constitutional progress. Jawaharlal Nehru claims that the Hindu-Muslim rapproachment was created by the demand of the Muslim

Sinha’s Speech, April 21, 1909* ibid., p. 291.

40 bourgeoisie that they be united with their Hindu brethren in 4^ opposition to British paramountcy. However true this argument might be, it is important to note that the Muslim League at no time agreed to surrender the communal elec­ torates which were the first requisite for the protection of their political rights.

Still another reason is found

in the "boons" granted by King George V on the occasion of his coronation Durbar at Delhi in 1912 when he was pro­ claimed Emperor of India. tous decisions.

His Majesty announced two momen­

The first was to make a new capital at

Delhi with an enclave free from provincial pressure.


other decision was a reversal of the partition of Bengal whereby it was hoped to settle the opposition of the Bengali 44 Hindus to the administration. Moslem opinion was bitterly disappointed at these announcements.

They were not flattered

by the establishment of the seat of government at the site of the ancient Mogul capital from which their ancestors had ruled India and they were hostile to the union of the two

4q ^ Nehru, Toward Freedom, o p . cit.. p. 291. ^ "The Address of the King-Emperor,M quoted in Sir Courtenay Ilbert, The Government of India, Being a Digest of the Statute Law Relating Thereto with Historical Intro­ duction and Explanatory Matter, Second Edition, (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1907)* PP. 455“6.

41 Bengals.


Muhammedan radicalism grew rapidly during the

next few years as it circulated the slogan,

"No bombs, no

boons.“ Further cause for Muslim al’ienation may be found in the extra-territorial allegiance owed to Islam. As one Muslim 46 writer notes, the defeat of Turkey in the Balkan War resulted in a loss of Islamic prestige equal in the Muslim mind*to the Japanese defeat of Russia.

It left the Indian

Muhammedans with the need of "closer relations with their Hindu fellow-countrymen than has hitherto been the case. The dubious policy of His Majesty!s Government in England with respect to admitting Russia!s rights in the Balkans, says another Indian Muslim, could be solely charged with alienating not only the ignorant Muhammedan peasant but also his middle class brethren.


Muslim opinion had become so hostile by 1913 that the Aga Khan, who remained a staunch admirer of British rule,

^ "India Under Lord Hardinge,” Quarterly Review. 226:99-115, July, 1916. ^ An Indian Moslem, "The Balkan War and the Indian Musalmans ,11 Living A g e . 278 :678-80 , September 13, 1913.

^7 ibid.. p. 79 . S. M. Mitra, "England, India, and the Balkan War," Nineteenth Century. 70:1034-46, December, 1911.

42 advised the government to take a bold step and rally the conservatives of both creeds to effective opposition against the radical movement which was making headway in both the Hindu and Muslim political camps.^9

it is important to note

with respect to the Aga Khan that he had been superseded in the Muslim League by one' less conservative than himself, Muhammed Ali Jinnah.5° Not all opinion in India was anti-British, however, and the reasons for cooperation go much deeper than matters of British policy In the Near East.

It is argued that the

genuine Indian liberals were anxious for the advance of political freedom without surrendering their country*s bonds with Great Britain.

In order to accomplish this end, the

moderates bridged the communal gap while retaining the principle of separate representation in the Councils.



tive of this point of view is an article written by M. A. Jinnah in which he reproduces a list of eight proposals submitted by the Congress and the League to the Secretary of State for India asking for reorganization of the Secre-

. H. The Aga Khan, “The Indian Moslem Outlook,” Edinburgh Review. 219:1-13, January, 1944. h

5° Holland. 51 Saint Nihal Singh, “Just What does India Want Politically,” North American Review, 192:369“78, September,

1910 .

^3 tary!s Council and the greater representation of Indian opinion upon the policy making board in L o n d o n . T h i s article is a judicious and statesman-like document which expresses the yearning for further reform without making impossible demands. It is difficult to'say which factors were most im­ portant in drawing the Hindus and Muslims together.

In all

probability it was a combination of both the negative and positive features which created closer political consulta­ tion.

Prom 1913 to 1916 the League and Congress held their

annual sessions in the same city and at the same time until, in the latter year, they concluded the Lucknow

P a c t .



alliance was the beginning of a political honeymoon between the Muslims and Hindus which first tested the relationship between the two communities and brought the League and Congress together for cooperative efforts at constitutional reform.

M. A. Jinnahj ^Reorganizing the Indian Council,1* Fortnightly Review. 102:612-20, October, 1910. 53 Durrani, op_. pit., p. 63 .

CHAPTER III THE RISE AND DECLINE OF COMMUNAL COOPERATION Prior to any genuine advance in communal relations it was necessary that the Hindu and Muslim leaders of Indian opinion find some common basis for a rapprochement.


League had been, from its formation, dominated by- the con- servative views of the Aga Khan.

In 1915 he resigned from

the Presidency and left the way open for the expression of a more liberal policy by a group which came to be known as the “young11 Muslim party.1

Again, from the time of the

arrival of B. J. Tilak on the Congress scene, that party had been divided between the “radicals16 and the “moderates.11 In 2 1915 the gap was bridged between the factions. The way now lay open for an understanding between the League and Congress.



Two significant features marked the meetings of the League and Congress at Lucknow in 1916.

First, the latter

1 L. F. Rushbrook Williams, India in the Years 19171918. a report prepared for presentation to Parliament in accordance with the requirements of the 26th Section of the Government of India Act (5 and 6 Geo'. V., Chap. 6l) (Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, India, 1919)* p . 20. ^ Rajendra Prasad, India Divided Kitabs Press Ltd., 19^7 )5 p. 18.



45 party was conquered by the radicals under the leadership of B. J. Tilak and Mrs. Annie Besant, the Theosophist Leader, who had organized a corresponding society which success­ fully wedded the diverse shades of Indian political opinion with the objective of presenting an united front in support of India *s claims to self-government after the war.3 Secondly, an elaborate scheme of post-war objectives was postulated by the nineteen Indian members of the Imperial Legislative Council at Delhi and was accepted simultane­ ously by the League and Congress as the basis for further constitutional reform.

The "Scheme of the Nineteen1*

envisioned the subordination of the executive to the orders of a legislature upon which was laid no responsibility for the continuation of the work of government in times of lL political crisis. With the "Scheme of the Nineteen" as the basis of negotiation the executives of the League and Congress worked out certain amplifications and amendments, the net result of which was the so-called "Lucknow Pact."


Congress-League Scheme, or Pact, advocated that the future

^ India in the Years 1917-1918, o p . cit., p. 29. 4 (London:

Sir Reginald Coupland, India a Re-statement Oxford University Press, 1945)* P. 109.

46 government of India be established on a federal basis with the residual powers vested in the Provinces and it also recognized the communal electorates as a permanent feature In Indian politics.5

The fatal weakness of the Congress-

League Scheme was that it obliged the Ministry to obey the rule of the legislature through the latter*s power to over­ ride an executive veto while no provision was made for the cabinet to be subject to a vote of want of confidence.



the affirmative side, the Lucknow Pact brought the two com­ munities together with an understanding that was to provide concurrence of both Muslims and Hindus in future constitu­ tional reforms.

Congress subscribed to a creedal register

of voters as the price for winning League consent to the program,7 and both parties agreed that provincial autonomy was necessary to the peculiar socio-religious structure of Indian geography.

This much agreement regarding constitu­

tional reforms augured well for the future. On August 20, 1917*

Secretary of State for India,

Mr. Montague, announced to the Commons that:

5 Prasad, op., cit. . p. 101. Report on Indian Constitutional Reforms (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1918), cmd. 9109, p. 135^ Prasad, op., cit.,, p. 118-9.



The policy of His Majesty!s Government, with which the Government of India are in complete accord, is that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual develop­ ment of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire.8 The effect of this pronouncement created an immediate schism in the ranks of Congress.

The moderates welcomed it while

the radicals expressed guarded dissatisfaction with any proQ

posals which did not grant self-government.^

In the elec­

tions to the executive offices of Congress in December, 1917, the factions came close to an open rupture.


the Tilak irreconcilibles dominated the meeting and suc­ ceeded in electing Mrs. Besant to the presidency of the party.1(1

The Muslim League liberals accepted the policy

statement with some pleasure but found themselves opposed by the conservative Muhammedan press which denounced the Home Rule movement as an attempt to betray Islam into Hindu hands.11

The Lucknow Pact already showed signs of cracking

at the seams. Meanwhile, shortly after making his historic

® Pariiamentarv Debates (Commons), V o l . xcvii (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1917)* Col. 1695. 9 India in the Years 1917-1918. o p . cit., p. 37. 10 Ibid.. p. 28-9.

11 Ibid.« P. 38.

48 announcement In Parliament Mr. Montague went to India and in conjunction with the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, made a careful study of the Indian problems.

In the spring of

1918 a report was issued incorporating the results of the investigation with proposals for certain far-reaching'Con­ stitutional reforms.

The report treated the communal problem

in an exhaustive fashion.

It pointed out that since the

Muslims had been granted separate electorates other minori­ ties had a logical right to demand similar treatment.-^ However, if such an event were to arise, it was the recom­ mendation of the Commissioners that only the Sikhs be given special consideration.-*-3

While condemning separate elec1 2i

torates as opposed to the ideal of democratic institutions, ^ the report ultimately conceded that they were the only solution to the religio-racial problem in India and were therefore indispensable.^5

Furthermore, Mr. Montague and

Lord Chelmsford did not subscribe to the belief that the communal conflict had been submerged in the Lucknow Pact. In summing up their opinions in this respect they claimed

^ p. 188 ..

Report on Indian Constitutional Reforms, o p . c i t .,

13 Ibid., p. 188. xit- Ibid. . p. 151. 15 Ibid.. p. 227.

49 that: . . .so long as the two communities entertain any­ thing like their present view as to the separateness of their interests, we are bound to regard religious hostilities as still a very serious possibility.16 The recommendations of the Montague-Chelmsford Report were enacted into law in the Government .of India Actl7 of 1919.

In respect to the constitutional proposals affecting

the interests of Congress and the League it conceded the principle of establishing a federal system of government.-1-® Furthermore, with the precedents of the India Councils Act of 1909* the Lucknow Pact of 1916, and the recommendations of the Montague-Chelmsford Report already before it, Parlia­ ment affirmed the communal electorates as a feature of the new system of representative election.^9 This study is not concerned with the operation of the act in its consitutional phases except where it crossed the relationship between Congress and the League.

In this

16 Ibid.. p. 151. ^

The Government of India Act, 1919. (9 and 10 Geo.5).

18 & list of transferred subjects were entrusted to the Provincial Legislatures and a definite distinction was drawn between central and provincial finance pertaining to these subjects. Though certain powers were reserved to the Provincial Governors, and, though the Viceroy still retained the all-important power of vetoing provincial bills, the tendency towards federalism is seen in the transfer of im­ portant matters to the provincial administrations. This system was known as wDyarchy.n 19 The Government of India Act, 1919. Sched. I.

50 feature it was a dismal failure.

Congress rejected the Act

for political as well as constitutional reasons and was joined in this by the nyoung" Muslim Party under the leader­ ship of M. A. J i n n a h . ^

The more conservative Muslims were,

however, warm in praising the new constitution and under the leadership of Mr. Fazlul Huq, a prominent Bengal Muhammedan, founded the Muslim Rights Association as a counterpoise to what it called the ttJinnahtt Muslim League.

However, this

movement was doomed to solitary disappointment in its attempt to woo the majority of Muhammedans away from their adher­ ence to the Lucknow Pact.^^ Contrasting the Congress-League alliance with the operation of the Act of 1919* Sir Reginald Coupland says: More serious on a long view than the failure of the Act of 1919 to make a-reality of responsible government was its failure to overcome the barriers of caste and creed. . . .it would be unfair to say that there was no response. Leaders of both communities were con­ tinually preaching the cause of national unity.23 Indeed, Mr. Jinnah became one of the most ardent apostles of communal understanding^^ and in later years he was moved

20 t . H., The Case of the Muslim (Gorakhpur, U. P . : M. Nesarullah, Secretary, The Muslim Rights Association, 1928), pp. i-ii.

21 Ibid., p. i i i . 22 Ibid., p . i v . 23 Reginald Coupland, The Indian Problem (New York: Oxford University Press, 1944), I, 72. 24 Nehru, Toward Freedom (New York: The John Day Company, 1941), p. 68 .

51 to observe that,

"At that time, there was no pride in me and

I used to beg from the










There was, however, in

Muslim politics one movement which sought cooperation with Congress for religious reasons. ment.

That was the Khilafat move­

Its whole program was one of political expediency and

it joined hands with Congress in the hope of frustrating British policies both in India and Turkey.


THE KHILAFAT INTERLUDE AND DECLINE OF COOPERATION The extraterritorial nature of Indian Muhammedanism

revealed itself in full force during and after World War I. Britain and Turkey were arrayed against each other in the war and despite the fact that most Indian Muslims were loyal to ,the Allied cause and even fought against the Turks^u an anti-British movement headed by the brothers, Muhammad and Shaukat Ali, began to agitate against the Government of India with the cry that Islam was in danger of destruction at the hands of England.27

^5 ttspeech delivered at the Muslim University Union on 5th February, 1938,” Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah, collected and edited by Jamil-ud-Din Ahmad, XLahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 19*1-3) j p. 37. Coupland, The Indian Problem, o p . cit.., I, 73. 27 Prasad, op., cit.,, p. 119.

52 During the negotiations surrounding the Treaty of Sevres in 1919* the Khilafat agitation became frenzied through fear that the Ottoman Sultan, who was also Caliph of all Islam, would be removed from power .^8


the Khilafat agitation coincided in time with the Congress Party rs campaign protesting the terms of the Government of India A c t . 1919 and the two movements formed an alliance directed against British policy in Turkey and India. Meanwhile, a new figure had risen to rpominence within the ranks of Congress, Mohandas K. Gandhi.

At the

Khilafat Conference in Delhi in November, 1919 Mr. Gandhi appeared as the spokesman for Congress urging his Muslim listeners to join the Nationalist party in the first of what was to become a series of non-cooperation campaigns.^9


the Khilafat movement Gandhi found “such an opportunity of uniting Hindus and Muhammadans as would not arise in a hundred years.“3° He did not concern himself, he says in his Autobiography.

with the religious nature of the

W. H. Moreland, and Atul Chandra Chatterjee, A Short History of India (London, New York, Toronto: Longmans, Green and Co., 1947)* P. 364. l . F. Rushbrook Williams, India in 1921-2.2 (Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, India, 1922), p. 36. 30 L. F. Rushbrook Williams, India in 1922-2.3. (Cal­ cutta: Superintendent Government Printing, India, 1923)* pp. 253-4. 31 Mahatma Gandhi: His Own Story, edited by C. F. Andrews (London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1930), pp. 303-4.

53 Khilafat agitation but was interested in the political advantage to be won by allying Congress with such a powerful group.32 Together with Muhammad Ali, the foremost Khilafat leader, Gandhi issued instructions for the opening of his non-cooperation campaign on March 19, 1920, which was to be observed throughout India as a day of mourning for all wrongs suffered by Turkey at the hands of the western na ­ tions. 33

The early phase of this campaign was almost

exclusively Muslim in sentiment and this feature, it seems, antagonized Hindu

o p i n i o n . 3^

So incensed over this were

the Congress radicals that Gandhi was obliged to broaden the basis of his program in July, 1920, to include the Nationalist demand for Swara.1.35 never defined by Gandhi.

This word, swaraj, was

To some of his followers it repre­

sented complete independence, while to others it was inter­ preted to mean Home

R u l e . 3^

He would give no clear-cut

32 Ibid.. pp. 303-4. 33 India in 1921-2 2 , o p . cit.., p. 37. 34 Ibid.■ p. 37. 35 ibid.. p. 38 .

36 Ibid.. p. 39.

54 definition to Mr. Jinnah,37 and he completely mystified the Muslim Rights Association when he told Mr. Huq that swara.i meant free government, then added the note that it also meant cow-protection.38

whole campaign'of non-coopera­

tion was, then, based upon sympathy with the Khilafat objectives and a demand for an ill-defined political objec­ tive . One thing upon which neither Gandhi nor his supporters counted in their campaign was the inflammatory nature of the Khilafat agitation.

In the early months of 1921 the Ali

brothers made several speeches in which they predicted the violent overthrow of British power and the establishment of an Islamic state.^9

Muslim sentiment ran high in hope of

an invasion from Afghanistan which would free India while Hindu opinion grew increasingly alarmed at the actions of the Khilafat agitators.

A split in Congress appeared immi­

nent when the more conservative members warned that the Muslim activities had developed serious overtones of antiHinduism.^^

Furthermore, the peaceful nature of Gandhi’s

37 Jamil-ud-Din Ahmad, Muslim India and Its Goal (Delhi, Muslim University Muslim League Publications, 1941), p. 1 . ^8 The Case of the Muslim, o p . cit., vii. 39 "The Moplah Rebellion ,11 Round Table, 11:872, September 11, 1921. India In 1921-2 2 . o p . cit., p . 71.

55 civil disobedience campaign turned towards violent disorders in which the armed agents of Congress, the National Volun­ teers, pitted themselves against the constabulary in Bombay, Bihar, and Madras.


It was evident that the two communi­

ties were living on the thin, hot soil of suspicion and discontent.

The slightest incident might bring the whole

tenuous alliance of Hindus and Muslims to an abrupt rupture. In July, 1921, Gandhi gathered with his Congress colleagues and assured them that the Ali brothers did not intend to depart from his program of non-violence.^2


gave these assurances despite the fact that Lord Redding, the Governor-General, had warned him that the Muslims were on the verge of insurrection.^^

Even while Gandhi was dis­

coursing on the virtues of passive resistance and the fidelity of the Khilafat leaders to his program there was brewing on the Malabar coast of Madras Presidency one of the most frenzied outbreaks of communal violence In modern Indian annals. On August 20, 1921, the Moplahs, a Muslim community

ltl Ibid,.. p. 69-70. ^

Ibid. . p'. 72.

^3 "The Moplah Rebellion,” Round Table. o p . cit..

p. 874.

56 of mixed Arad and Indian descent living in the Malabar ter­ ritory rose up against their Hindu neighbours and the British administrators and proclaimed the Khilafat Raj.



by the fanatical speeches of the Ali brothers and believing "that Swara.i was impending they engaged in a series of bar­ baric outrages involving forcible conversion to Islam, desecration of Hindu temples, pillage, arson, and merciless 45 massacres. The severity of the outbreak may be judged from the fact that it was seven months before martial law could be lifted from the district with s a f e t y . ^ Opinion at the time of the revolt charged that the Khilafat movement was directly responsible for the out­ break. ^

Lord Redding, on the other hand, laid the greater

part of the blame upon Gandhi, who, though he preached non­ violence and reproached those of his adherents who resorted to force, disregarded warnings that disorders were brewing.


With such embarrassing charges being leveled against Gandhi


India In 1921-2 2 . o p . c i t .. p. 74.

45 “The Malabar Insurrection." Mew Statesman. 1 7 :671. September 24, 1921. ^

India in 1921-2 2 . o p . cit., p. 1 9 .

^7 "origins of the Malabar Rebellion,ft New Statesman. 18:219-20, November 26, 1921. "Lord Redding*s Address to both Houses of Imperial Legislature, App. X, India in 1921-2 2 . p. 337*

57 and his allies, the National Congress passed a resolution at its Ahmedabad meeting in December, 1921,' affirming that: This Congress expresses its firm conviction that the Moplah disturbance was not due to the Non-co-operation or the Khilafat movement, especially as the non-co-operators and the Kilafat preachers were denied access to the affected parts by the District authorities for six months before the disturbance, but is due to causes wholly unconnected with the two movements, and that the outbreak would not have occurred had the message of non­ violence been allowed to reach them. Nevertheless this Congress deplores the acts done by certain Moplahs by way of forcible conversions and distruction of life and property. . .49 Despite this attempt of Congress to exonorate Gandhi and the Khilafat preachers, the Muslim League President, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, described the conduct of the Moplahs as a “defensive war for the sake of their religion *6 and condemned the Hindus for obstructing their desires for independence from British r ule .-*0

So strongly did the League feel about

the failure of its alliance with Congress that it never again met in annual session at the same time or place as had been the custom since 1913 . Most writers in dealing with the Moplah rebellion mark it as the incident which first weakened Hindu-Muslim unity.

However, one might well question whether the alliance

^9 “Resolutions passed by the Indian National Congress, Ahmedabad ,16 App. IV, ibid., p. 313. 5° Ibid.. p. 96.

ever found subscription except upon the highest levels of political strategy.

As early as 1917 serious outbreaks

occurred in Bihar Province when Hindu fanatics ravaged not less than 150 Muslim villages in one month. ^

Sir Verney

Lovett observes of these outrages that not one post office or public building was damaged in the rioting which led the authorities to believe that the Hindus wished to impress upon them the purely religious and anti-Muslim nature of their activities.52

The Moplah rebellion, then, appears

not to have been the first break in communal relations but rather the precipitating incident which revealed the chi­ merical features of a most unnatural alliance.

Hindus and

Muslims were "quits" so far as religious violence was con­ cerned .



Following the Moplah rebellion the Hindu-Muslim alliance disintegrated.

Gandhi, after serving a term in

prison for inciting the civil disobedience campaign, passed

5 1 Vincent A.Smith, Indian Constitutional Reforms (London: Oxford University Press, 1919)* P P . 31“2. 52 s i r Verney Lovett, A History of the Indian Nationalist Movement (London: John Murray, 1920), p. 150 .

59 into a state of relative political obscurity.

The Muslim

League divorced itself from Congress and gathered its forces for independent political action. ^

Furthermore, the

Khilafat movement passed into oblivion in 1924 when Mustapha Kemal, the dictator of Turkey, banished the Caliph from the Ottoman throne.

India stood politically where she was prior

to the Lucknow Pact.

Unfortunately, however, the communal

schism was more intense than it had been within the memory 54 of living men. Between 1922 and 1927 there were 111 grave breaches 55 of the peace all attributed to religious causes. The worst of these occurred in Calcutta in 1926 when during a two week period sixty-six persons lost their lives and 391 were injured.


Nehru says that the breach in communal

relations was created by the extremists on both sides of the )

religious barricade, while he insists that Congress stood between the two as a non-sectarian movement.57


53 supra, p. 39 . 5^ Holland. 55 Coupland, The Xfidlan ^Problem. X, p. 73 . 56 L. P. Rushbrook Williams, India in 1925-26 (Calcutta: Government of India Central Publication Branch, 1926), p. 148. 57 Nehru, The Discovery of India John Day Company, 1941), p. 391.

(New York:


60 Nationalist party did continue to work for cooperation be­ tween the Hindus and Muslims but was frustrated in its purposes by the intensification of communal bitterness.5$ The Hindu conservatives found expression for their religious chauvinism in the Hindu Mahasabha party which dedicated itself to reclaiming India as the national home of the Hindus and which displayed a violent anti-Muslim b i a s . This movement was originally founded in 1907 as the political arm of the Arya Samaj.

It had confined its activi­

ties to the Punjab, until 1923 when it was reorganized by Pandit M. M. Malaviya and Lala Lajpat R a i .

These men were

ardent Hindus and ventured upon a program of deliberate antiMuslim demonstrations.^

In one of his remarkable, torturous

dissertations on Malaviya and Lajpat Rai, Mr. Gandhi ques­ tioned their tolerance but exonorated them of anti-Muslim sentiments.


Sir Richard Coupland, however, characterized

58 f # k . Khan Durrani, The Meaning of Pakistan (Lahore: The Meaning of Pakistan, 1946), p. 114. 59 Prasad, og.. cit.., p. 19 . ^ Ibid.. p. 21. Lajpat Rai was at once an officer in the Mahasabha and a member of Congress. Mahatma Gandhi, Young India 1924-1926 (New York: The Viking Press, MCMXXVIl), pp. 303“4. Lajpat Rai was a member of Congress as well as one of the leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha.

6l the Mahasabha party as the voice of "orthodox Hinduism” and says that its Muslim counterpart was the League.


Most certainly the League did react against the chal­ lenge to its religious interests during the years following the Moplah rebellion.

In 1924 the Muslim League was revived

by M. A. Jinnah and for the next three years its meetings were vigorous in advancing Muhammedan interests.

The annual

session of 1925 went on record as favouring the revision of the Government of India Act 1919 but it presented three pre­ requisites for the protection of the Muslim minority: (1) All Legislatures of the country and other elected bodies shall be constituted on the definite principle of adequate and effective representation of minorities in every province without reducing the majority in any province to a minority or even to an equality. (2) The representation of communal groups shall con­ tinue to be by means of separate electorates as at present, provided that it shall be open to any community at any time to abandon its separate electorate in favour of joint electorate. (3) Any territorial redistribution that might at any time be necessary shall not in any way affect the Muslim majority in the Punjab, Bengal, and N. W. F. Province.63 If all Indian parties were prepared to adopt this formula the League was prepared to surrender the communal electorates at

Coupland, The Indian Problem, o p . cit,., I, p. 88. ^3 m . A. Jinnah, History of the Origin of "Fourteen Points” (Bombay: M. A. Jinnah, n.d.), p. 3.

62 the center with the proviso that the Muslims he guaranteed not less than one-third of the seats in the Legislature.^ In Pandit Nehru*s opinion the communal electorates were the foundation of all consitutional issues between Hindu and

M u s l i m .


$j0w the League had asked for certain

safeguards and promised to abandon the separate franchise rolls.

The next move was left to Congress.

In December,

1927* ^he Nationalist party passed a resolution at its annual meeting which concurred in substance with the Leaguefs pro­ posals and called for still another essay at political u n i t y .66

The time was rapidly approaching when the Act of

1919 would be up for review and it was imperative that unanimity of opinion be reached by all groups interested in constitutional reform. The League responded immediately to the new overtures from Congress and a committee was appointed to confer with the Working Committee of Congress for the purpose of calling a meeting of all parties to draft a constitution for India in which the interests of the Muslim community would be


Ibid., pp. 3-^.

^5 Nehru, The Discovery of India, o p . cit.., p. 358. 66 J. Coatman, India in 1927-28 (Calcutta: Government of India Central Publication Branch, 1928),

p . 22.

63 safeguarded.



Just as the prospect of constitutional

reform had brought Congress and the League together in 1916 so the impending revision of the Act of 1919 promoted hope for further cooperation between the two parties. little enthusiasm accompanied the new alliance.

However, There was

no Lucknow Pact in 1928, only the memory of seven years of intense communal strife during which time Congress had worked earnestly to bridge the gap between Hindu and Muslim while the League had adopted a concept of communal differ­ ence which it would not surrender without adequate constitu­ tional protection In February, 1928, as we will see in the next chapter, the various shades of Indian political opinion were summoned to the All-Parties Conference at Delhi and a drafting com­ mittee, headed by Motilal Nehru, was established which was charged with the duty of drawing up a constitution for a free India.

It was to be a constitution which would unite

all of Indian opinion and present the British Parliament with a fait accompli and so usher in a free India.

^ Jinnah, History of the Origin of “Fourteen Points,w o p . cit.., pp. 6 -7 .

68 Holland.

CHAPTER IV THE CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE 1928-1935 The Government of India Act, 1919, provided that at the end of ten years a British Parliamentary mission would investigate its functioning and determine what further con­ stitutional reforms were necessary.

Though the time

allotted would not be up until 1929 there was a definite feeling as early as the spring of 1927 that Parliament would shorten the period.

Accordingly, this feeling stimu­

lated efforts at another political understanding between Congress and the League.

Through the early months of 1927

negotiations were carried on between the two parties start­ ing in March, with the submission by the Council of the League of a list of proposals for cooperation which sub­ stantially revived the Lucknow Pact, guaranteeing separate electorates, a federal form of government with residual powers vested in the Provinces and a specified list of subjects for the Center, and calling for the establishment of the Sind, and North West Frontier Province as Muslim Provinces.1

These proposals were turned back to the League

with the suggestion that they were not definite enough and

1 Mr. Jinnah1s Points, bound with Jinnah, History of the Origin of ^Fourteen Points** (Bombay: M. A. Jinnah, n.d.), p . 1.

65 with the understanding that Congress insisted upon eliminao tion pf the separate electorates. In response to this challenge the League liberals issued a list of “Delhi Pro­ posals** agreeing to surrender separate electorates in exchange for Congress' agreement to a specific list of safeguards designed for the Muslims of I n d i a . I n December, 1927, Congress agreed to consider the “Proposals1* and sum­ moned an All-India Parties Conference to meet at Delhi in an attempt to write a constitution which would settle all communal issues and solidify all of Indian opinion behind it.^

The reason for precipitous action in this respect was

not difficult to understand.

In November, 1927* a royal

warrant was issued from the court of St. James appointing a commission composed entirely of members of the British Parliament with Sir John Simon as Chairman to consider the workings of the Act of 1919* and to submit recommendations for constitutional reform.^

2 Ibid.. p. 2. 3 Ibid.. pp. 2-4.. ^ Jinnah, History of the Origin of “Fourteen Points .11 Q P . c i t ., p. 9. 5 “Royal Warrant, dated 27th November 1927*” App. I (a), J. Coatman, India in 1927-28 (Calcutta: Government of India Central Publication Branch, 1928), pp. 385-6 .

66 Moderate Muslims and Hindus were willing to cooperate with the Simon Commission but the League and Congress announced that they would boycott its hearings.

With cer­

tain justification they demonstrated that any body which excluded Indian opinion from its membership was incapable of representing the true wishes of the Indian people.^


this juncture the Muslim League was once more divided with Mr. Jinnah leading the liberal wing away from cooperation with the Commission and Sir Muhammad Shafi, the official leader of the League, announcing for cooperation.7


was the background before which the All-Parties Conference assembled in the early months of 1928 .



CONSTITUTIONAL PRONOUNCEMENTS AND PARTY REACTIONS From February 11th to March 11th, 1928, the AllParties Conference deliberated upon communal and constitu­ tional issues.

No agreement was reached in the first month

of debate and when the meeting was adjourned the League delegates met separately and disassociated themselves with

° Ibid.. p. 60.

7 Ibid.. p. 60.

67 further discussion complaining that the Hindu Mahasabha and the National Congress were in fundamental disagreement with the “Delhi Proposals.”^

Henceforth, the League liberals

were not a party to the discussion of the Conference. In May, 1928, the All-Parties Conference assembled once more at Bombay, and, in the absence of the League delegates, it appointed a committee headed by Motilal Nehru, a distinguished Congress moderate, to draft a constitution for India.

The findings of this committee were embodied in

what came to be known popularly as the Nehru Report.^


document faced squarely the communal problems which plagued Indian political life and went further to outline an entire constitution in the form of a draft Act of Parliament.


Muslims did sit upon the committee but they did not repre­ sent the League and one of them attended but a single meet­ ing of the committee .10

The other members represented the

Hindu Mahasabha, Congress, the Liberal Federation, Labour, and the Sikh League .11

® Jinnah, History of the Origin of “Fourteen Points,n o p . c i t .. pp. 9-10. 9 All Parties Conferencet 1928: Report of the Commit­ tee appointed by the Conference to determine the principles of the Constitution of India (Allahabad: General Secretary, All India Congress Committee, 1929), 10 Ibid., p. 1. 11 Ibid.. p. 1.

68 Like the Montague -Che lmsford Report the Nehru Report condemned the communal electorates as a source of HinduMuslim friction.^

Unlike its predecessor, however, it

recommended that they should be abolished in favour of Joint electoral rolls.^3

With respect to the reserved seats it

conceded that they should be retained in the Central and Provincial Legislatures for the Muslims alone, and then only in direct proportion to population figures contrasted 14 against the Hindu majority. The Report promised,

“fullest religious liberty and

cultural autonomy,”^5 hoping to achieve this by establish­ ing communal councils in the villages of India which would supervise primary education, schools, orphanages, and other l6 social services. Furthermore, it proposed to establish the Sind as a separate “communal 18 province with further recognition of the North-West Frontier Province as an equal political unit along with the other states of British

12 Ibid.. p. 32. 13 Ibid.. p . .38 ^

Ibid.. p. 52.

15 Ibid.. p. 58 .

16 Ibid.. p. 29.

69 India.^

As an offset to this concession and to satisfy

Hindu opinion It recommended that a new Caranese-speaking Province should be carved out in southern India. Up to this point the Report conceded in whole only the demands concerning the new Muslim Provinces.

It would

not grant the "weightage” which the League had requested in the Central Legislature.

However, it was upon the vital

question of federalism that an absolute separation of Congress-League objectives was made apparent.

The Nehru

committee declared for a strong Central government.


fic powers were to be granted to the Provinces with residual powers reserved to the Federal Government.


the Center was to have a restraining influence upon Pro­ vincial legislation where, it conflicted with Federal i n t erests.^

Upon this issue all hope of communal agree­

ment was broken. On the whole this Report provoked criticism from every circle of Indian politics.

Jawaharlal Nehru, who had

served as secretary to the committee headed by his father,

17 Ibid.. p. 32. •L° Ibid.. p. 32. Caranese is a tongue confined to the Carnatic coast of Madras Presidency in southern India. x9 Ibid.. pp. 127-33.

70 took exception to it because it did not declare for complete independence and behind him stood the Congress radicals.2^ Congress actually came close to a complete schism on this issue of “Dominion status*® versus complete independence. The crisis was resolved only when Gandhi returned to the par t y ’s councils and persuaded the two factions to accept a compromise agreement granting sanction to the Nehru Report for a period of only one year.


With Congress thus divided it was a matter of little surprise that the other parties were either mild in its support or rejected it in its entirety.

The Liberal Federa­

tion at first adopted an attitude of neutrality towards the Report and then accepted it without expressing any strong views on i t .22

Hindu Mahasabha rejected it because it

granted the establishment of the Muslim Provinces in NorthIndia and felt that it has been altogether too generous to the Muhammedans.23 Muslim opinion hardened against the report from the

2 PP- 1^0-1.

(New York:

21 J. Coatman, India in 1928-29 (Calcutta: Govern­ ment of India Central Publication Branch, 1930), p. 50. 22 Ibid., p. 53. 23 Ibid.. p. 34.

71 outset.

Mr. Jinnah headed a delegation of League liberals

to the final session of the All-Parties Conference at Cal­ cutta, in December, 1928 .

There he submitted a list of

"Fifteen Points" which would answer the major demands of the Muhammedan community and so lend its support to the pit Nehru Report. The summary rejection of these proposals brought an end to all hope for further compromise between Congress and the League.

Mr. Jinnah called upon the League

Council to summon a conference on Muslim opinions before the end of May, 1929 * in order to define a new course of action. The speed with which Muhammedan opinion hardened against the Nehru Report may be judged from the fact that the all-India Muslim Conference was called to order before the end of 1928.

Conservative opinions were in the ascend­

ancy at the convention and a comprehensive resolution defining Muslim demands was passed by the meeting of January 1, 1929.

The delegates went on record that,

"the only form

of Government suitable to Indian conditions is a federal

Safeguards for Muslims of India. Mr. Jinnah*s "Fifteen Points" bound with M. A. Jinnah, History of the Origin of "Fourteen Points," ojd. c i t ., pp. 1-4 , numbered in that order following the first fifteen pages. It will be noted that one of the original "Fifteen Points" was dropped giving rise to the more common title of "Fourteen Points."

72 system with complete autonomy and residual powers vested in the constituent States."

Furthermore* the resolution

defined certain principles to safeguard the Muhammedan community.

First* it insisted that the separate electorates

be retained as essential to Muslim community* and it repudi­ ated any suggestion that joint electorates be established. Second* it claimed that Musalmans should have their due share in the central and provincial cabinets.

Third* it

demanded that one-third of the seats in the Central Legis­ lature be guaranteed to the Muslims.

Fourth* it requested

a constitutional provision granting the Muslims an adequate share along with other Indians in all services of the State. Fifth* it asked for assurances that the Muslims would receive protection for their language* religion* and personal law and assistance for their educational and charitable institu­ tions.

Finally* it declared that no change should be made

in the Indian constitution without the concurrence of all the States the Indian federation. Sir Robert Holland says that this resolution was based on Mr. Jinnahfs "Fourteen Points" amended in con96 formity with conservative Muslim opinions. We shall see

^5 “Resolution of the All-India Muslim Conference* Delhi* 1st January* 1929/* App. VII* Report of the Indian Statutory Commission Volume II— Recommendations (London: H. M. Stationery Office* 1930)* cmd. 3569, PP* 84-5.

26 Holland.

73 in subsequent discussion that this statement of Muslim demands came to represent the political creed of the League during the 1930's.

It typified the minimum demands with

regard to governmental reforms, demands which had to be met by the Hindus before the Muslim community would con­ sent to any constitutional revisions.



While most of the Indian political parties were engaged in drafting the proposals and counter-proposals before the All-Parties Conference, the Parliamentary Com­ mission, which was headed by Sir John Simon, went about the task of examining the problems of Indian government.


we have seen, both Congress and the League announced that they would boycott the Commission's hearings.


less, the work of the British delegation went on with the assistance of a Joint Select Committee of the elected and 27 nominated members in the Central Legislature. 1 Another

^ On November 8, 1927* the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, issued a Statement which proposed that the Statutory Com­ mission should have the advice of a Joint Select Committee of the Indian Legislature. “The Statutory Commission, Viceroy's Statement,“ App. I (b), India in 1927-2 8 . o p . c i t ., pp. 3B7“9 2 .

74 important section of Indian opinion also cooperated when Provincial committees chosen from the Legislatures presented pft their advice to Sir John Simon and his colleagues. The Congress-League boycott did present an undoubted handicap. There can be little doubt of that.

However., under the

circumstances the Commission distinguished itself by the thoroughness with which it conducted its investigation. The Simon Report directed its attention toward the 2Q communal problem in relation to political reform. ^ In particular it studied the operation of the Act of 1919* and found it wanting.

Dyarchy, the system which had granted

a special list of **transferred subjects1* to the Provincial Legislatures for independent treatment, had failed to produce any real sense of responsible government.

In order

to create this sense it was recommended that the process of constitutional devolution from the Centre be speeded up with the extension of greater Provincial autonomy.


Province should as far as possible be mistress in her own house,tt reasoned the commissioners .81

28 India,in 192&-29., m - sll-, P- 27. ^ Report of the Indian Statutory Commission Volume 1 — Survey (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1930), cmd. 3568, pp. 25-30. 3° Ibid.. pp. *211-5.

81 Report of the Indian Statutory Commission Volume II— Recommendations. o p . cit., p. 16 .

75 Like the Montague-Chelmsford Report the present document was critical of the communal electorates.


it could not see its way clear to recommend their abolition. Though recognizing that Hindu-Muslim tension was aggravated by the creedal rolls, the Report suggested that the existing separate electorates be retained.


In further extending the argument favouring Indian federation the Commission recommended that the Central Legislature be reconstructed on a basis of Provincial repre­ sentation instead of the then current system of granting seats to special classes and interests such as the Chambers of Commerce and the Universities,3^

so far as the executive

powers at the Center were concerned, however, it noted that It was necessary to have certain safeguards held by the Governor-General so that the operation of the federal system on the Provincial level would not be impeded by, MA pre­ mature endeavour to introduce forms of responsible govern­ ment at the Centre before the conditions for its actual practice have emerged.“3^ It will be noted that the aims and recommendations

32 I b id.. p. 312.

33 Ibid.. p. 126. 34 Ibid.. p. 1A6.

76 of this Report were certainly more akin to the desire of the Muslims than those of the Nehru Report.

As might be

expected, Congress was bitterly opposed to the recommenda­ tions while the League was prepared to accept it as a working basis for further constitutional reform.35


tunately for the position of Congress the Commissioners were not wholly convinced that their work had achieved any definite results and upon their return to England Sir John Simon proposed to the cabinet that further discussions be held in London where representative opinions of all Indian parties and the Princes might express themselves concerning further reforms.

On October 31 > 1929> Lord Irwin reported

to the Indian Legislature in a Gazette Extraordinary that Sir John's suggestion was being implemented.

A Round Table

Conference was being summoned in London, and would welcome delegates from all parties interested in constitutional revision.36 Congress reacted suddenly and negatively to this proposal.

It declined to accept an invitation to the Round

Table Conference and announced that Gandhi would lead

J. Coalman, India in 1929-30 (Calcutta: ment of India Central Publication Branch, 1930),


36 “Statement by His Excellency the Viceroy in the Gazette Extraordinary of the 31st of October,** App. India in 1929-30, op. c i t ., p. ^67 -71 .

77 another civil disobedience campaign.

On April 1, 1930, the

Mahatma launched his program by starting on a highly dra­ matic "march to the sea“ where he manufactured salt in defiance of the laws which granted a monopoly in this pro­ duct to the Government.

The League was more cooperative.

Muhammed Ali Jinnah, who now emerges as one of the foremost Muslim leaders, accepted the invitation to attend the Conference.37 Looking back from the vantage point of a new decade, and with prospects of further discussion on the constitu­ tion ahead, one can conjecture what the 1920 fs had achieved. Never had India seen such terror as the communal riots which followed the Moplah rebellion.

The Lucknow Pact had dis­

solved in the fury of religious partianship and even in the face of constitutional revision Congress and the League had been unable to resolve their differences.

The Nehru Report

had pleased no one and at best it had served only as an exercise in the conduct of a constitutional convention. The Simon Report demonstrated the failure of the MontagueChelmsford reforms but admitted that its own findings, though they satisfied the commissioners, were inconclusive and needed the support of further discussion with Indian

37 India in 1930-31 (Calcutta: Government of India Central Publication Branch, 1931)* P* 68 -9 .

78 opinion. Little worthy of pride lay behind. decade would usher in greater hope.

Perhaps the new

At least the British

government was prepared to make a valiant effort as the Indian delegates gathered for the first session of the Round Table Conference.



The first session of the Round Table Conference was opened by King George V on November 12, 1930 against a most dismal background.

Congress had successfully carried all

of India into the maelstrom of its second civil disobedience campaign.

Communal violence reached a peak between April,

and December, 1930* seeming to indicate a hardening of HinduMuslim bitterness.^ Despite the gloomy picture in India the conference was launched upon a wave of hopeful enthusiasm that real achievement would result.

Of the eighty-nine members at

the first session sixteen represented the three British political parties.

There were fifty-eight delegates from

British India representing the Liberal Federation, the

38 The Indian Year Book. 1930 of India), p. 849.

(Calcutta, The Times

79 Muslim League, the Khllafat Committee, the Pariahs, Sikhs, Anglo-Indians, and the British commercial community. An immediate area of agreement was found by the Indian delegates when all of the speakers, including the Princes, expressed themselves favourable to self-govern­ ment, based upon Dominion status, for India.

However, the

most startling announcement came from the Maharaja of Bikaner, who identified himself as the spokesman of the Princes, and informed the Conference that should India be united on a federal basis the States would join the scheme without coercion.

Though the principle of federalism

seemed satisfactory to the native rulers no suggestion was made as to how soon this would take place.


there were repeated demands for assurances that the princely rights would not be impaired.

The Gekwar of Baroda defi­

nitely implied that the component units of a future federa­ te) tion would have maximum autonomy. No definite statement of principles with

respect to

the implementation of the federal system were made.


ever, indirect recognition was granted to the idea.


^ Indian Round Table Conference (N o v . 1 2 , 1930-J a n . 19, L23!) (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1931), cmd. 3778, pp. 36-7 . 40 Ibid., p. 489.

80 sub-committee on Federal Structure discussed the matter in connection with the method of election to the Lower House of the Central Legislature. divided on the question.

The committee members were

Some members favoured direct

election from constituencies while others endorsed indirect 4l election through the Provincial legislatures. On the issue of minority interests the Conference was more specific.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay Mac­

Donald, presided over the Minorities subcommittee discus­ sions .

He early announced that this body was unanimously

in favour of the principle,

“that the new constitution should

contain provisions designed to assure communities that their interests would not be prejudiced .**^2

The Muslim delegation

issued a statement in the spirit of a compromise hoping for further effort in the direction of settling their differ­ ences with the Hindus but reiterating their claim that no advance was possible without adequate safeguards for their community. In closing the first session of the Conference the Prime Minister drew attention to the fact that though the

41 Ibid.. p. 220. Ibid.. p. 332. ^3 ibid.. p. 246.

81 proposals which had been made by the delegates had been generally subscribed to, it had still remained the duty of the various communities to settle their own problems. Furthermore, unless the communal leaders were able to find some ground of sommon agreement,

teIn framing the Constitu­

tion, ® he said: His Majesty's Government considers that it will be its duty to insert provisions guaranteeing the various minorities, in addition to political representation, that differences of religion, race, sect or caste, j,j, shall not themselves constitute civic disabilities. All in all the Conference made two important deci­ sions.

The principles of federalism and the protection of

minority rights were asserted without great dissent of any party from the discussions.

However, Congress had not been

represented, as Mr. MacDonald noted in his closing address, and further discussion was impending.^5 The reaction of Congress to the first session of the Round Table Conference was wholly negative.

The non-co-

operation campaign continued in force and the party conUf.

sidered the decisions made in London to be of no validity. °

^ Indian Round Table Conference. Sub-Committees' Reports: Conference Resolution; and Prime Minister's State­ ment ("London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1931), cmd. 3772,

p. 82 .

^5 i b i d .. p. 82 . Nehru, Toward Freedom, o p . c l t .. p. 19^.

82 Meanwhile, the Muslim League!s position on the communal electorates crystallized while the London discussions were in progress.

Speaking from the Presidential Chair of the

Annual Session of the Muslim League in December, 1930, Sir Muhammed Iqbal expressed his partyfs conviction that the discussions then in process had presented convincing argument for the retention of constitutional safeguards for Indian Muhammedans.



Though supporting the proposals

for a federal union of India he warned that unless the com­ munal demands of Muslims were granted: . . .then a question of a very great and far-reach­ ing importance will arise for the community. Then will arrive the moment for an independent and concerted political action by the Muslims of India.48 In concluding his address he said: I am not hopeless of an inter-communal understanding, but I cannot conceal from you the feeling that in the near future our community may be called upon to adopt an independent line of action to cope with the present crisis.49 The most important feature of Sir Muhammad*s pro­ posals centered on a geographical “redistribution of British

47 “Presidential Address of Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal delivered at the Allahabad Session of the All-India Muslim League in December 1930,“ F. K. Khan Durrani, The Meaning of Pakistan (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1946), pp. 1&L-4. Ibid,. pp. 172-3. 49 Ibid.. p. 175.

83 India, calculated to secure a permanent solution of the com­ munal



He did not envisage the partition of

India but he did demand that some arrangement be devised whereunder Indian Muslims would be able to develop their own political institutions without fear of the Hindu major­ ity. Meanwhile, India remained locked in the crippling embrace of Gandhi’s second civil disobedience campaign. Non-violence had given way to terrorist activities against the British administrators.

In July, 1930* the government

resorted to emergency measures and arrested the Congress leaders, Gandhi among them .^1

Finally, in the spring of

1931 Lord Irwin entered into an aggreement with the Mahatma, the MIrwin-Gandhi Pact,** wherein it was agreed that the Government would rescind the emergency laws and, in turn, the non-cooperation campaign would be ended.


Gandhi agreed to attend the next session of the Round Table Conference which was to meet in London in the following September. 52


way was now paved for Congress "-participa­

tion in constitutional reform.

50 Ibid.. pp. 167-70. 51 India in 1930-31. o£. cit., p. 75. 52 “Text of Settlement published on 5th March 1931.” App. Ill, ibid.. pp. 655-9.

84 Before leaving for the Conference, however, Gandhi was given certain instructions "by Congress.

These orders

were embodied in the so-called “Karachi Resolution 11 which insisted that the future constitution must be decided by a Constituent Assembly elected on a basis of non-communal, adult franchise.

While disclaiming the validity of communal

electorates the resolution went on to list a series of “fundamental rights" on religion and culture which it pro­ mised would be confirmed by Congress in the new instrument of government.53 With this resolution as the basis of his arguments Gandhi appeared at the Second Session of the Round Table Conference in September.

The Conference directed its

attention to determining/the questions of minority rights and the exact from of the future Federation of India.

On both

of these matters Gandhi's attitude was distressing to the point of agony for the Muslim delegates.5^

He claimed to

53 ttThe Karachi Resolution: 1931,“ App. A, 2, Jawaharlal Nehru, The Unity of India (London: Lindsay Drummond, 1942), pp. 406-8. 5^ Sir Tej Badhur Sapru to Sir Robert Holland, Allaha­ bad, Aug. 6 , 1941. The writer was not given permission to quote this letter owing to the fact that Sir Tej was still living at the time it was made available. It contained opinions on certain Congress leaders which were confiden­ tial.

85 speak as the sole representative of the Indian people, including the

P r i n c e s .


This assertion that Congress

alone spoke for India so antagonized Jinnah that he resolved that cooperation with the Nationalist party was never again possible.56 Gandhifs position, as might be expected, was based upon the ‘‘Karachi Resolution” and he stalemated any efforts to reach a final decision on the communal electorates.


is with deep sorrow and deeper humiliation,n he reported to the Conference,

“that I have to announce utter failure to

secure an agreed solution of the communal question.“57 Even the Hindu Mahasabha spokesman, Dr. Moonje, was more conciliatory than the Mahatma when he asked that the major­ ity in each Province be given the right to decide whether or not it wanted joint or separate electorates. Muslims,


-Scheduled classes, Indian Christians, Ango-

55 Indian Round Table Conference. (Second Session), (Proceedings of the Conference! (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1932), cmd. 3997, p. 390. 55 "Speech delivered at the Muslim University Union on 5th February, 1938," Some Recent Speeches and Writings of_ Mr. Jinnah, o p . cit. , p. 37* 57 Indian Round Table Conference. (Second Session), (Proceedings of Committees) (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1932), cmd. 3998, p. 5^8.

86 Indians, and Europeans stood fast beside their demands for the then existing system of voting .^8

it was evident that

no area of agreement could be reached on this issue. On the question of the federal system and the place of the residual powers the story was identical with that of the communal problem.

So definite was Gandhi that the

Centre should hold the residual powers that the Prime Minister was obliged once more to announce that the Govern­ ment would act in a unilateral fashion to settle the matter until such time as the Indian parties came to some agree­ ment.-^ Mr. MacDonald, in closing the Conference, summed up the achievements such as they were. The great ideas of an all-India Federation still hold the field. The principle of a responsible Federal Government, subject to certain reservations and safe­ guards through a transition period, remains unchanged. And we are all agreed that the Governors* Provinces of the future are to be responsibly governed units, enjoy­ ing the greatest possible measure of freedom from out­ side interference and dictation in carrying out their own politics in their own sphere. 0 Only the matter of communal electorates remained wholly unsettled, and as Mr. MacDonald had warned in his closing address to the first session of the Conference, the British

58 Ibid.■ pp. 6 7 -7 0 .

59 ibid.. p. 418. 6 ° ibid.. p. 4l6.

87 Government was prepared to take the responsibility for deciding the issue if the Indian parties were unable to reach accord on It themselves. In August, 1932 Mr. MacDonald announced that His Majesty’s Government felt itself obliged to act on the communal problem in order to insure the position of the minorities.

In line with established policy the separate

electorates were to be retained and additional reserva­ tions were to be made for the pariahs and for w o m e n . ^ The reaction of Gandhi to this pronouncement took the form of a dramatic **fast unto death** in which he pro­ tested the removal of the pariahs from the fold of Hindu­ ism.

His popularity as a leader finally forced the Viceroy

to concede to his demands that the outcasts be removed from the Award.

This **Poona Pact *1 consented to repeal the

reserved seats for pariahs with the understanding that seats would be reserved for them within the general con­ stituencies .^2

The **Poona Pact** illustrated the tremen­

dous power now wielded by Congress through the leadership of Gandhi.

As Nehru demonstrated,

WA fpact' was signed by

^ East India (Constitutional Reforms) Communal Decision (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1932), cmd. 4147, PP. 3“3. India in 1931-32 (Calcutta: Government of India Central Publication Branch, 1933), PP. 61-2.

88 various people gathered in Poona; with unusual speed the British Prime Minister accepted it and it varied his pre­ vious award accordingly, and the fast was

b r o k e n . ”^3

Following Gandhi*s successful defiance of the "Award” further effort was made at communal reconciliation.


Unity Conference met in Allahabad in November, 1932, and after two weeks of fruitless discussion the conference was adjourned.

Separate statements on the communal question

were issued by the League and the Hindu Mahasabha announc­ ing their inability to reach accord with Congress.^ Meanwhile, the final session of the Round Table Con ferenee met in London during the closing months of 1932 to confirm the decisions of the first two meetings.


agreement was found on the structure of the Central Legis­ lature.

It was to be composed of two houses.

The upper

chamber was to be elected by the Provincial Legislatures while the lower was to be elected on a national basis with an extended franchise.^5

Residual powers were to remain with the

Provinces and dyarchy was to be transferred to the Centre

6 3 Nehru, Toward Freedom, o p . cit. , p. 238 . ^

Ibid., p . 66.

^ Indian Round Table Conference (Third Session) (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1933)> cmd. 4238, pp. 12-14.

89 during the period of transition to the Federation of I n d i a . ^ The British Government had* in the final analysis, been obliged to decide the nature of the constitutional proposals which were to be submitted to Parliament.


as the Third Session was meeting, Gandhi was once more engaged in the renewal of his non-cooperation campaign. ^ Every facility had been placed at the disposal of Congress to make constructive suggestions concerning the nature of the new constitution but nothing had been gained.


more, none of the Indian political parties had been able to reach agreement on the communal and federal issues.


remained for the British Parliament to discuss and evaluate the mass of material which had been gathered in the pre­ vious five years of debate and investigation. Reactions to the official White Paper on Constitu­ tional reforms for India were varied directly in relation to the party programs.

Congress was extreme and uncompro­

mising in its general condemnation of the proposals.


Muslim League was not even certain that the federal system for which they had worked so ardently would work in the

66 Ibid.. pp. 20-1. 67 India In 19^1-^2. o p . clt.. p. 66 .

90 best interests of themselves or of Indians in

g e n e r a l .


These attitudes hardened as the next two years passed into history and while the British Parliament proceeded to draft a new Government of India Act.

^ India in 19S2-33 193*0, P. 7.


Manager of Publications,


1935, did not receive

enthusiastic approval either from Congress or the League. The political lines of both parties had hardened during the years of constitutional debate and the Act could not hope to satisfy the demands of either.

It was a cautious

document which did not propose to admit complete freedom in a country where the communal and political climate was as torrid as the temperature. Three main features characterized the new constitu­ tion:

(l) provincial autonomy,

(2) dyarchy at the Centre,

which was to include the States, and (3 ) the exclusion from the center of relations between the States and the Para­ mount Power.1

Residual powers were placed in the hands of

the Governor-General with instructions that he might dis­ tribute them as he saw f i t .

The franchise was arranged in

accordance with the Communal Award as modified by the nPoona Pact.n^ General^

Safeguards were reserved to the Governor-

and the Provincial Governors were vested with

1 Government of India A c t , 1935. (25 and 26 Geo. 5 )* Art. 105. ^ Ibid., Sched. J. 3 Ibid.. Art. 45.

92 emergency powers to protect the interests of the minorities on controversial issues.


REACTIONS TO THE ACT AND THE ELECTION OP 1937 Not until the spring of 1936 hid the All-India

National Congress express any formal attitude towards the Act.

However, speaking from the Presidential chair of the

Lucknow Session of Congress in April of 1936 Jawaharlal Nehru announced that: To this Act our attitude can only be one of uncom­ promising hostility and a constant endeavor to end it. . . .1 think that, under the circumstances, we have no choice but to contest the election to the new provincial legislatures, in the event of their taking place. We should seek election on the basis of a de­ tailed political and economic program, with our demand for a Constitutent Accembly in the f o r e f r o n t . 5 Furthermore, he served notice that were Congress successful in any of the provinces it would refuse to take office until such time as assurances were forthcoming that the Governors would not use the emergency powers granted to them under terms of the Aet.^

On the communal electorates he was

**■ Ibid. . Art. 32. 6 “Presidential Address by Jawaharlal Nehru at 49th Session of Indian National Congress, at Lucknow, April, 1936,“ App. B, Nehru, Toward Freedom (New York: The John Day Company, 1941), pp. 400-1. ^ Ibid.. pp. 403-6.

93 equally adamant.

They were not acceptable to Congress and

the whole question of communalism could be settled by con­ formity to the Karachi Resolution.7

Again, he stressed the

claim of Congress to represent all of Indian opinion.^


a later date he went on to criticize the federal issues involved in the Act reaffirming Congress* position that the Centre must be strong.

^Utterly bad as the Act is,R

he said, there is nothing so bad in it as this federation, and so we must exert ourselves to the utmost to break this and thus end the Act as a whole. . . .we are not against the concept of federation. It is likely that a free India may be a federal India, though in any event there must be a great deal of unitary control.-^ The chips were down.

Either the Act must conform to the

wishes of Congress of Congress would not conform to the Act. The Muslim League was still divided internally be­ tween the constitutional conservatives now led by M.-R. Jayakar, and the liberals led by M. A. Jinnah.

It was the

latter, however, who began to emerge as the leader of Muslim opinion and even before the act was given royal assent he announced that his Independent Party accepted

7 Ibid.. pp. 407-9. 8 Ibid.. p. 410. 9 "Presidential Address by Jawaharlal Nehru at 50th Session of Indian National Congress, at Faizpur, December, 1936," ibid.. p. 420.

94 the Communal Award but found the Federation untenable be ­ cause it admitted the princely states on terms of advantage over the older provinces of British India.10

The separate

electorates must be retained in his view until such time as the communal groups were able to agree upon a substi­ tute.11

Furthermore, he expressed dissatisfaction with the

new constitution because it did not state definitely whether or not provincial autonomy would remain following the com­ pletion of federation.1^ Though both Congress and the League were critical of the new constitution it is obvious that their attitudes differed with respect to the ultimate goal of the Act. Their inability to reach agreement on the communal issues and constitutional procedures, in effect, fixed the party lines which separated them, lines which became wholly inflexible as the elections to the new Provincial Legis­ latures were announced for the winter of 1936-37 * On June 11, 1936 the Muslim League issued its elec­ tion manifesto which entered an emphatic protest against

10 "Speech on the Report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Indian Constitutional Reforms in the Legislative Assembly on 7th February, 1935 *11 Some Recent Speeches and Writings of M r . Jinnah. compiled and edited by Jamil-ud-Din Ahmad (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 19^3)* PP. 1-1 8 . 11 Ibid.. p. 4.


Ibid.. p. 10.

95 both the Federal and Provincial sections of the constitution and called upon the British Parliament to review the whole scheme of government.^3

However, the Parliamentary Board of

the League announced two main principles and a program o f . fourteen points upon which it would contest the Provincial elections.

The principles enunciated were 2

1. That the present Provincial Constitution and pro­ posed Central constitution should be replaced immedi­ ately by Democratic full Self-Government. 2. And that in the meantime the representatives of the Muslim League in the various Legislatures will utilize the Legislatures In order to extract the maxi­ mum benefit out of the constitution for the uplift of the people in various spheres of national life.l^ Only two planks of the program sought safeguards for Muslim religious and economic rights.

The others dealt with All-

India problems involving fiscal policies, military appropri­ ations and command, encouragement of industry, and social reform.^ In contrast to the League manifesto Congress announced that it rejected the entire constitution-as invalid because

^ All India Muslim League Central Board Policy and Programme. printed brief without place of publication, printer, or date. Cover page signed, M. A. Jinnah, p. 5* From the library of Sir Robert Holland. Ibid.. p. 14. 15 Ibid.. pp. 14-15.

96 it had been "imposed by outside authority."1®

In deciding


contest the Provincial elections it was understood that


did so only to combat the Act of 1935* and to seek its


With respect to the communal question Gongress

reiterated its list of fundamental rights included in the Karachi Resolution of 1931> and would accept no part of the Communal A w a r d . ^

Furthermore, the Nationalist party

insisted that it alone represented the true wishes of all Indians and pronounced itself the sole agency of political action.

"Every party and group that stands aloof from the

Congress organization tends, knowingly or unknowingly," the manifesto concluded: to become a source of weakness to the nation and a source of strength to the forces ranged against it. For the fight for independence a joint front is neces­ sary. The Congress offers that joint national front which comprises all classes and communities, bound together by their desire to free India, end the exploitation of her people, and built up a strong and prosperous and united nation, resting on the well-being of the masses.19

16 ^congress Election Manifesto: 1936 Adopted by the All-India Congress Committee at Bombay on August 22, 1936," App. A, 1, Jawaharlal Nehru, The Unity of India (London: Lindsay Drummond, 19^2), pp. A01-2. 17 Ibid.. p. 402. 18 Ibid.. pp. 402-4. 19 Ibid.. p. 405.

97 With the programs thus defined Congress and the League entered the campaign.

The Nationalists were by far

the better organized to fight the election and it was obvious from the start that they would win considerable power in a majority of the provinces.

The League had not

yet gathered sufficient force to prove itself at the polls.20 The results were manifest proof that Congress was the strongest party in the land. The outcome of the elections revealed a genuine com­ munal schism in India.

Congress won five out of seven

Hindu-majority Provinces, and in the North West Frontier Province the anti-British Muslim Red Shirt Party allied itself with the Nationalists to capture the Legislature. The League did not secure a majority in any of the six prov­ inces where it nominated candidates; but in Bengal, the Punjab, and Sind,where no party obtained a majority and where the Muhammedans were predominant in numbers, it com­ bined with the minor Muslim parties to claim the ministries. Furthermore, though Congress Muslims contested 58 seats reserved to their community under the Award of 1932, and the Government of India Act, 1933* they captured only 2 6



98 constituencies This election has been interpreted by Nehru as a pp

Congress triumph.

However, though it might have demon­

strated the fact that the League was virtually without any wide-based support it did not justify Congress* assertionthat it represented all of Indian opinion regardless of creed.

With the exception of the Red Shirt Congress coali­

tion in the North West Frontier Frovince, Congress could not be said to have impressed its program upon Indian Mus­ lims.

The results proved only that Congress was the

strongest party in the Hindu-majority provinces.



Immediately following the elections, Congress' Working Committee announced that it would prohibit the formation of ministries in those provinces where it was the majority party until such time as the Provincial

21 This information was compiled from “The Election Results,11 A p p . A 4, Nehru, The Unity of India, op., c i t ., p. 409; and “Result of the General Elections, 1937 ,11 Table II, Rajendra Prasad, India Divided (Bombay: Hind Kitabs Ltd., 1947), p. 143. 22 Nehru, Toward Freedom, pp. pit., p. 381.

99 Governors would contract not to use their reserved powers which the Act of 1935 had provided for the protection of 23

communal interests. u

The Governors of the Congress prov­

inces took the legalistic view of the Act and insisted that no party could void the intention of the constitution. Now, since no Nationalist leader would take ministerial responsibility without the promise to withhold use of the safeguards, interim ministries were formed by the remnant parties in the Legislatures.


It was evident from the outset, however, that these minority ministries could not stand in the face of Congress* opposition in the Legislatures and on June 27, 1937, the Viceroy announced that the Provincial Governors would with­ hold use of their reserved powers except in times of extreme emergency.


Though this was not all for which Congress had

asked, the Working Committee issued another resolution meet­ ing the government half way and Congressmen were finally

3 Resolution of the Working Committee is quoted in The Indian Year Book. 1937-38 (Calcutta: The Times of India, 1938), p. 789 . ^ Indian National Congress Report of the General Secretary J a n . 1937--F e b . 1938 ("Allahabad: Published by J. B. Kripalani, General Secretary, A.I.C.C., 1938), PP. 9, 10 , 1 1 .

25 Ibid.. p. 12.

100 permitted to accept office in those Provinces where the Governors extended invitations to the party leaders.2^ Though Nationalists now held power in six provinces and though the League had been obliged to form coalitions in the efforts to resolve the Congress-League differences did not halt.

On October 19, 1937, Gandhi opened a course

of correspondence between Muhammed All Jinnah and himself which later brought Jawaharlal Nehru within its scope. ^ Jinnah attempted on several occasions to seek personal interviews with the Mahatma2^ only to have his efforts frustrated by Gandhi’s inability to make himself available at dates suitable to both parties. On January 18, 1938, Nehru requested that Jinnah submit to him a list of subjects for discussion in pro­ moting Hindu-Muslim harmony.29

The Muslim leader answered

this request through the press setting forth an eight point program:

(l) withdrawal of Congress opposition to the

Communal Award,

(2) statutory safeguards protecting the

2^ Nehru, The Unity of India, pp. 58 -9 . 27 Re: Hindu-Muslim Settlement--Correspondence between M r . Gandhi and M r . Jinnah and between Pandit Jawaharlal and M r . Jinnah (Bombay: The Times of India Press^ 1938), 2A pp. 28 Jinnah to Gandhi, New Delhi, Feb. 15 , 1938, same to same, New Delhi, March 3, 1938, ibid., p. 3. 29 Nehru to Jinnah, Lucknow, Jan. 18, 1938, ibid., P. 5.

101 Muslim claims to a fair share in the civil services, tection of Islamic personal law and culture by law,

(3) pro­ (4) the

right to call "Azan,” to perform religious ceremonies in public, and to make sacrificial offerings of cattle,

(5 ) no

territorial redistribution which might jepardize the Muslim majorities in Bengal, the Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and the (6 ) abolition of "Bande 30 Mataram" as the national anthem, (7 ) recognition of Urdu

North West Frontier Province,

as the language of Indian Muslims and therefore inviolable, (8 ) extension of the principle underlying the Communal Award to local government bodies.3 1

Nehru's answer to these

demands was non-committal on all points except those dealing with the Communal Award and on these he served a patent refusal to change Congress policy.32

Furthermore, he ques­

tioned the right of the League to recognition as a political party.

“Obviously ,11 he wrote,

"the Muslim League is an

important communal organization and we deal with it as such."

30 "Bande Mataram" was not the official anthem but a Congress Party song used on all public occasions by party members. It was composed by a Bengali novelist who associ­ ated the worship of India and Kali. Naturally, it was offensive to Muslims. 31 "Jinnah?s eight points for discussion stated in an article in the New Times, Lahore, dated the 1st March, 1933,” ibid., pp. 14-16. 32 Nehru to Jinnah, Calcutta, April 6 , 1933, ibid., pp. 17“20 .

102 In closing the correspondence with a repetition of this con­ cept that Congress represented all Indians, Nehru concluded that he would not discuss any communal settlement on the basis of the “eight points** because,

“Congress retains the

right to vary any policy from day to day as it sees fit.“33 Jinnah's position was also clearly stated. 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 measure of importance or distinction it possesses.34 Here he was giving voice to a declaration of the political warfare which had been going on for at least two years. Immediately after the elections of 1937 Congress had launched the Muslim Mass Contact Movement which was directed towards weaning the Indian Muhammedans away from their communal organizations and parties into the ranks of Congress.35 This campaign proved alarming to the Muslim League and in 1937 Jinnah called upon his party to combat the Congress program with a similar movement designed upon lines of

33 Nehru to Jinnah, Allahabad, April 16, 1938, ibid., pp. 20-4. 3^ Jinnah to Nehru, Bombay, April 12, 1938,ibid., p. 22.


Prasad, pp.. c i t .. p. 22, 148.

103 social reform which would attract the Muslim masses.36 The real tragedy in the League’s case lay in the fact that it had never been able to devise such a program. Though Jinnah had been prominent in Indian politics for over twenty-five years his career had been so erratic that even he had not been able to arrive at any consistent policy.

What was needed was a catalyst which would bring

the various factions in Muslim politics together.


catalyst was found in the mind of the noted Islamic phi­ losopher and poet, Sir Muhammad Iqbal. In March, 1936, Jinnah opened a course of corre­ spondence with Iqbal seeking advice on the problem of uniting Muslim opinion for the then imminent Provincial elections.

Sir Muhammad responded and for a period of

fifteen months continued to advise the League leader.37 It will be remembered that Iqbal had, in 1930, expressed the belief that unless the Hindu-Muslim conflict could be

36 "Presidential Address delivered at Lucknow Session of the All-India Muslim League, in October, 1937*u Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah, o p . ci t .. PP. 30-5. ^ Letters of Iqbal to Jinnah, with a foreword by M. A. Jinnah (Lahore: Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf, n.d.), 31 pp. Mr. Jinnah*s letters were not copied and the ori­ ginals were not found amongst Iqbal’s papers after his death.

104 settled amicably it might be necessary to partition India.38 The belief was shortly to become an avowed policy. In a memorable letter to Jinnah written shortly after the elections of 1937 he expressed the view that the differ­ ences between Hindus and Muslims which, in recent months had led to new heights of violence, were neither religious nor economic; they were political.


In these circumstances it is obvious that the only way to a peaceful India is a redistribution of the country on the lines of racial, religious, and lin­ guistic affinities.39 This was not the first time since 1930 that the partition of India had become a question for consideration.


the Round Table Conference in 1933 & group of Muslim stu­ dents, then studying at Cambridge, broached the idea.


reply to a question on the matter one of the Muhammedan delegates referred to it as a “chimerical dream. At this later date, however, it was no longer a question in the realm of fancy.

It was expressed by a

responsible man and it fell upon the willing mind of Jinnah

38 Infra., p. 78 . 39 Iqbal to Jinnah, Lahore, June 21, 1937* Letters of Iqbal to Jinnah. o p . cit., p. 21. ^ Minutes of Evidence, Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform. Vol. _II (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1933), cmd. 1496, Q. and A. 9598 and 9599.

105 at a time when communal relations and political tension caused serious thought for the future of Indian Muslims. The fears of Jinnah were adequately expressed at the Luck­ now Session of the League in 1937 when he asserted that the British had betrayed a sacred trust to protect the minori­ ties when the Governors were permitted to acceed to the demands of Congress and withhold their reserved powers under the Act of 1935.

He was convinced that Congress was

ready to destroy not only the League but the independence iii of all Indian Muslims. Further reason for alarm was given the League in 1938 when Mr. Gandhi set forth the so-called Wardha Scheme of education.

Under this scheme all education would be

removed from the realm of theory and text books and placed on the practical level of learning industrial crafts. Furthermore, education was to be secularized and religious instruction was to follow a rational plan wherein the scriptural prophets and teachers were to be characterized 42 as historical persons and not inspired teachers. The Muslims were particularly antagonistic to the scheme although

^ “Presidential Address. . .October, 1937/* Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah. o p . c i t ., pp.

28, 3 ^-5 . ^

Durrani, op., pit., pp. 99 ~ 100 .

106 it had actually been drafted by two eminent Muhammedan educators, Dr. Hussain, and K. G. Sayyedain.

Prasad says

that the only reason the plan was condemned by the Mus­ lims was because it received the blessings of Mr. Gandhi.^3 Shortly after the Congress ministries took power the League began to issue charges of "atrocities1* committed against the persons and property of Muslims living under Congress Governments.

Three important reports were issued

from different quarters on these purported outrages.


foremost of these was the Firpur Report a balanced and impartial study of the charges which,though it found many of the "atrocities 11 to have been committed, did not seek 44 to lay the blame entirely to political causes. Another detailed study, the Sharif Report listed over 500 charges


most of which were laid to the door of Congress. ^


most sensational statement on the question of atrocities was issued by the Premier of Bengal, Mr. Fazlul Huq, in December, 1939.

Written in the form of a press release

^3 Prasad, op., pit., p. 149. ^

Coupland, The Indian Problem, pp. pit., p. 186.

^5 Digest of the Sharif Committee Report on Muslim Grievances in Congress Province¥ (Lucknow: n .p ., 1938), p. 19. The original Report consists of two volumes.

107 Muslim Sufferings Under Congress Rule gave chapter and verse for 150 cases of loot, arson, assault, murder, kidnaping, hf.

and rape. u

Though Sir Reginald Coupland considers the

latter statement to be somewhat excessive in its attempts to lay the blame upon Congress for all or most of the atroci­ ties

the samewriter records that: By the end of 1939 it was widely believed that, if the Congress Government had lasted much longer, com­ munal fighting would have broken out on an unprecedented scale. The idea of a 'civil w a r ’ had been an almost inconceivable idea as long as British rule was still unquestioned, but now many Indians were saying it was coming.'4'' By the

spring of 1938 the League

unquestioned voice of Indian Muslims.

had become the Itt April of that

year Jinnah was able to report that Muslim League Parties were functioning inside seven of the eleven Provincial Legislatures.

Furthermore, it had organized Provincial

parties in ten out of the twelve provinces and though Con­ gress was yet unwilling to admit the claim of the League to speak for all Muslims the claim was, nevertheless, a fact.

Muslim Sufferings Under Congress R ule: Being the Reprint of a Statement Issued to the Press by the Hon *ble Mr. A. K. Fazlul H u q . Premier of Bengal [Calcutta: Bengal Provincial Muslim League, 1939T7 PP* 23. ^7 Coupland, India a Re-Statement. o p . cit., p. 187 . ^ Special Sessions All-India Muslim League Calcutta. 17th April, 1938. Presidential Address (Calcutta: The Alliance Press, Ltd., 1938), pp. 12.

108 The League had, in effect, become the only agency through which protests were being registered against the abuses of power by the Congress ministries.^9

in March,

1939, Mr. Jinnah addressed the League Working Committee to the effect that it was obviously impossible for Muslims to expect justice from Congress Government and that the time had arrived, therefore, when Indian Muslims must take political action independent of Congress and Britain dedi­ cated to the possible partition of India. ^

The ferment of

Iqbal!s suggestion of 1930 had at last begun to work, and to worsen matters still more Britain and her Empire stood precariously upon the brink of war with Germany.



The outbreak of World War II in September, 1939 j created in India a constitutional crisis involving the Indian political parties on brie side and Britain on the

^9 Holland. 50 Quoted in The Indian Year B ook. 1939-49 (Calcutta: The Times of India, 1940), p. 863 . The seriousness of the communal situation was illustrated in August, 1939j when Nehru issued an ultimatum to the Premier of the United Prov­ inces to bring an end to the deliberate incitement of vio­ lence by factions within the Congress Party Organization of that Province. "Enough of It!u Nehru, The Unity of India, o p . cit., pp. 168-71 .

109 other.

Neither Congress nor the League were satisfied with

the Act of 1935 j and the position of the Paramount Power with respect to the consitution would have to be gaged by the reactions of these two parties towards the war effort. If they were willing to carry on the operations of govern­ ment without making excessive demands for statutory reform they would be permitted to continue in office.

If they

refused to cooperate, then the constitution would have to be suspended. In the spring of 1939* the Working Committee of Congress had demonstrated what its attitude would be in the event that India was involved in war.

All Congressmen

sitting in the Legislative Assembly at New Delhi were ordered to absent themselves from that body in protest against the use of Indian troops as reinforcements at Aden. Consistent with its avowed purpose to destroy the Act of 1935* "the Working Committee issued a declaration on Septem­ ber 15 , 1939; twelve days after the Viceroy had declared war against Germany, demanding in part that: . . .the Indian people must have the right of selfdetermination by framing their own constitution through a Constituent Assembly without external interference, and must guide their own policy.51

India and the War-Statement issued by the GovernorGeneral of India on 17th October. 1939 (London: H. M. Sta­ tionery Office, 19397"! cmd. 6l21, p. 12, 13.

110 Again* on October 10, the Nationalist Committee issued a demand for immediate independence. The Muslim League professed a less intractable policy. While anxious for Indian independence the League Working Committee denounced Nazi aggression in Europe and proclaimed that it would support the war effort on the condition that: . . .no declaration regarding the question of con­ stitutional advances for India should be made without the consent and approval of the All-India Muslim League nor any constitution be framed and finally adopted by His Majesty's Government and the British Parliament without such consent and approval.53 Britain's position was stated by Lord Linlithgow, the Viceroy, when he reaffirmed the policy of the Paramount Power that the ultimate goal of India was Dominion status. However, for the duration of the conflict it was proposed that a council of advisors should meet with the GovernorGeneral to assist the government in prosecuting the war effort.

Furthermore, His Majesty's Government pledged

itself that so soon as the world was once more at peace the Act of 1935, would be reconsidered and appropriate changes would be made with due respect to the wishes of all Indian parties.

Ibid., p . 16. 53 ibid.. p. 19 . 5^ Ibid.. p. 9, 7 .

Ill These proposals were unacceptable to Congress and on October 22, a directive was issued by the Working Committee ordering the Congress Ministries to tender their resigna­ tions to the Provincial Governorsp 5

At this serious turn

of events Lord Linlithgow started an exchange of letters with Jinnah and Rajendra Prasad,, the Congress President, suggesting that the Provincial Governments be continued in force upon the basis of Congress-League coalitions.


Nationalist leader demurred at this suggestion unless the policy of Great Britain with respect to immediate indepen­ dence were stated, and he further allowed that the communal question could be settled only through the League's accep­ tance of Congress* plan.

Jinnah replied that the question

of agreement was beyond his power so long as Congress made such impossible demands.


The attitude of Congress towards the war effort seems to have been one of opportunism.

On September 21, 1939,

Jawaharlal Nehru issued a statement entitled "War Aims and Peace Aims," in which he illuminated the Working Committees'

55 India and Governor-General of spondence Connected Office, 1939), crad.

the War--Announcement Published by the India on 6th November. 1939. and Corre­ Therewith [London: H. M. Stationery 6 1 2 9 7 P*

Ibid., pp. 6 , 7, 11.

112 position.

“in India today the war is still a far-away

affair,“ he said, “exciting enough, but something apart from us,"

In the crisis which now embroiled Europe, Congress

found an opportunity to oppose fascism and at the same time to remove the imperialist yoke from India.

What the Work­

ing Committee really wanted before it would consent to cooperate in the war effort was, equality based upon inde■m

pendence for India. ism stating that,

Nehru confounded fascism and imperial­

“for the present we consider Indian free­

dom in its world context of imperialism.

To condemn fascism

and seek to defend or maintain imperialism is illogical.n57 The League’s position was not one of political ideal­ ism.

It was a matter of constitutional demands based upon

protection of Muslim interests.

On December 2, 1939* Jinnah

called upon Indian Muslims to celebrate the resignation of CQ the Congress Ministries as “Deliverance D a y .10 The cele­ brations were duly held on December 22, demonstrating for the first time the widespread support which had been gathered by the League.59

go strong did Jinnah feel his

57 “War Aims and Peace Aims," Nehru, The Unity of India. o&. cit., pp. 305-17* 306, 307* 313. 58 “Appeal for the observance of Deliverance Day, issued from Bombay, on 2nd December, 1 9 3 9 Some Recent Speeches and Writings of M r . Jinnah. o p . cit., pp. 95~7• 59 “Deliverance Day,“ editorial Times of India, Delhi edition, December 27 , 1939.

113 new-found power to be, that by January, 19^0, he announced a three part program which represented the demands of the Muslim League.

What the British did not understand, he

insisted, was that unqualified Western democracy with responsible Parliamentary government would not work in India where communal differences were so great.

In the emergency

which faced the Indian Muslims it was, therefore, necessary to require of Britain: (1) That the British Government should review and revise the entire problem of India*s future constitu­ tion de novo in the light of the experience gained by the working of the present provincial constitution, and developments that have taken place since 1935 or which may take place hereafter. (2) While the Muslim League stands for a free India, it is irrevocably opposed to any federal objective which must necessarily result in a majority community rule, under the guise of democracy and parliamentary system of government. (3) No declaration regarding the question of consti­ tutional advance for India should be made without the consent and approval of the All-India Muslim League, nor any constitution be framed and finally adopted by his Majesty*s Government and the British Parliament without such consent and approval. "To conclude," Jinnah announced: a constitution must be evolved that recognizes that there are in India two Nations who both must share the governance of their common motherland. In evolving such a constitution, the Muslims are ready to cooper­ ate with the British Government, the Congress or any party so that the present enmities may cease and India may take its place amongst the great Nations of the

114 world This pronouncement clarified the League’s position. The Act of 1935* had failed in its provincial objectives and the federal scheme was proclaimed as antagonistic to Muslim interests.

No constitutional revisions could be

made without the consent of the League which assumed to speak as the authoritative voice for Indian Muhammedans. More important, though, from the historical standpoint was Jinnahfs declaration that India was not a single but binational state. Congress’ policy on the communal question remained no less adamant than it had been in the past.

As an

official of the Nationalist party, Nehru wrote on January

6 , 1940: It is absurd to imagine that these two huge religious groups [Hindus and Muslims] are ranged against each other in the country, although it is unfortunately true that conflicts have taken place from time to time, chiefly in towns. There is a long history behind this, and a British policy, consistently followed, to encour­ age disruptive tendencies. While Indian nationalism has sought to unify India and has to a large extent succeeded, British imperialism has tried to introduce barriers to unity.

'’Article on the Constitution Maladies of India sent at special request of the ’Time and Tide,’ London, on 19th January, 1940,n Some Recent Speeches and Writings of M r . Jinnah. o p . cit.. pp. II8 -9 .

115 The Muslim League, Nehru contended, was a communal organiza­ tion: . . .controlled by reactionary politicians who have taken little or no part in the struggle for Indian freedom during the last twenty years, and who have ^ often opposed it and sided with British imperialism. 1 The whole thesis of Nehru's, and we may assume, Congress' position was based on the assumption that the communal schism was being perpetuated by the presence of a third party in Indian politics.

With that party removed the Indians could

settle the question themselves.

When Gandhi advanced this

theory to Jinnah, the Muslim leader answered him through the press with the challenge: If he wants to be logical, he should ask for the immediate withdrawal of that humiliating British bayonet, so that the people of India could settle their own manner of self-determination in complete indepen­ dence. That he does not do, because he is well aware of what would result if the Congress caucus tried to impose its present ideas in those circumstances. 2 N e h r u ’s characterization of the League leaders as anti­ nationalist reactionaries, it might be pointed out, could not apply to Mr. Jinnah, who was by 1940 the unchallenged mentor of Muslim opinion in India.

His whole career put the

’’India *s Demand and England's Answer, January 6 , 1940,n Nehru, The Unity of India, o p . cit., pp. 6. ’’Statement to the 'Daily Mail,' London, n.d.,” Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah, op. .cit.,

p . 122.

116 lie to this charge.

Notwithstanding his own knowledge of

Jinnah, the Pandit declared in his autobiography that Jinnah was, indeed, anti-nationalist and he believed that the twonation theory “was not seriously meant. With Congress and the League thus ranged along immov­ able lines on the communal question it could not be a matter of great surprise that the League was preparing to announce a line of political action calculated upon the partition of India into separate Hindu and Muslim states.

Until the out­

break of the war what had been considered a problem which separated different communal groups was now considered a matter involving different national aspirations. In March, 1940, the whole question of India*s political future was raised by Mr. Jinnah before the annual session of the All-India Muslim League which was held at Lahore.


twenty-five years before, Congeess and the League had attempted in the Lucknow Pact to resolve the communal differ­ ences in India.

Now, however, the question was no longer

one of religious distinctions.

The Muslims were proclaimed

a nation separate from the Hindus and worthy of declaring their own objectives for distinct nationhood. national

The "inter­

problem of India was insoluble and the direction

^3 Nehru, Toward Freedom, o p . c i t ., pp. 364-5.

117 of future political action was clear.

The Muslims must

issue a Declaration of Independence.^ With the stage thus set for its historic decisions the League convention issued what has come to be known as the nPakistan Resolution.‘*65

This important pronouncement

reviewed the League’s objections to the Act of 1935, and recorded satisfaction with the Viceroy’s pronouncement that the constitution would be reconsidered in consultation with the various parties, interests, and communities in India. However, in reaching the crux of the resolution the assembly went on record with the statement that: . . .no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principle, viz., that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such ter­ ritorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which Muslims are .'.numerically in a majority as in the north-eastern and north-western zones of India should be grouped to constitute ’independent states’ in which the constituent units shall be autono­ mous and sovereign; that adequate, effective and manda­ tory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in the units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights

64 "presidential Address at the All-India Muslim League, Lahore Session, March 1940,n Some Recent Speeches and Writings of M r . Jinnah, o p . c i t ., p p . 138-56 • 65 Reproduced in Jamil-ud-Din Ahmad, Muslim India and Its Goal (Delhi: Muslim University Muslim League Publica­ tions, 1941), pp. 2-5. Appendix, supra,

118 and interests in consultation with them, and in other parts of India where the Mussalmans are in a minority adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for minori­ ties in the units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in con­ sultation with them .66 In conclusion the League working committee was authorized to frame a constitution in accordance with the principles pre­ viously stated.^7 This momentous resolution determined the course of League policy for the next seven years until the plan which it envisaged was put into effect by the partition of India in 1947.

What had brought the Muhammedans to this decision?

No better answer can be found than one given by Mr. Jinnah himself. There must always be distrust and conflict between Hindus and Muslims on every question of administration, because of their fundamental differences. There can be no basis on which the people of India could be united under one government, unless the sword is the ultimate sanction for the preservation of unity. Whoever wields the sword must be the real ruler of India. India has never been unified except by the power of the sword. The British have maintained only unity of administration, and have not brought about


Ibid., pp. 3 “^«

57 Ibid.. p. 5.

119 unity of Indian peoples, because that is impossible. This was the whole answer in a convenient capsule.


Britannica had been forced upon India and it had provided administrative unity without welding the Indian peoples into one, cohesive nation.

When conditions pointed to the with­

drawal of the Faramount Power from the Indian Empire the question immediately arose; who is going to inherit that power?

Partition was one of many answers.

In the end it

was the solution adopted.

"Notes on a Conversation with Jinnah," August 29, 19^1, p. 3. This document was drawn from the personal papers of Sir Robert Holland who served as a special, Vice­ regal agent in 19^1 attempting to find some basis for a settlement between Congress and the League. Sir Robert was a personal friend of both Jinnah and Gandhi and offered his services as a go-between in Congress-League negotiations. Needless to say he was unsuccessful in his attempts to bring the two parties together.

CHAPTER VI CONCLUSIONS The Hindu-Muslim conflict in India is of ancient origin.

The ethnic * cultural., and geographical factors

which might, under ordinary circumstances* be expected to unite the two peoples could not prevail against the reli­ gious disparity which divided the communities.

With the

exception of the British period in Indian history it might be justifiably said, that the sub-continent of India never enjoyed political unity for any great period of time. The modern history of the Hindu-Muslim dissention can be dated from the religious revivals of the 19th century. In the case of both communities these revivals quickly assumed political overtones.

As the government of India

was liberalized and the franchise extended to the Indians political activity quickened.

With the exception of the

period from 1916 to 1922, while the Lucknow Pact was in operation, Congress and the League were frequently at odds over the communal question.

As a religious minority, claim­

ing a distinct cultural identity, the Muslims were obliged to consider seriously the position of their community in a future Indian state wherein the franchise would determine governmental policy.

For this reason their political activi­

ties were devoted in the main to the demand for safeguards

121 which would secure their minority rights.

However, they

found it difficult to convince Hindu opinion that their political aspirations were truly expressions of Muslim feel­ ing. The National Congress disavowed the communal schism as unworthy of a genuine nationalist movement.

To a certain

extent Congress could justly claim that it was concerned only with the political future of India and therefore divorced from religious controversy.

However, it is impor­

tant to remember that the Muslims never joined Congress in any great numbers, and those who did were acting as private citizens and not as representatives of their community. Again, Congress was dominated from its inception by the Hindus.

Most of its leaders were Hindus and its public

campaigns, particularly during the Governor-Generalship of Lord Curzon, reflected Hinduism as a religion.


dramatized the Hindu nature of Congress politics in his ascetic way of life and in his demonstration against the “Communal Award 11 in 1932, when he refused to permit the classification of the pariahs as non-Hindus. The alarming rise of communal violence beginning in 1922 with the Moplah rebellion and continuing thereafter until 1928 demonstrated the seriousness of the religious schism in India.

Regardless of this the Congress leaders

122 insisted that the separate electorates should be replaced by joint electorates. The year 1928 seems to mark a pivotal point in the political history of India.

The Nehru Report, though it

was criticized by most Indian politicians, enunciated cer­ tain principles which become part and parcel of Congress policy.

First, the Report favoured abolition of the com­

munal electorates while promising religious and cultural safeguards for Indian minorities.

Second, it endorsed a

federal system of government for India with the residual powers vested in the Centre.

The Muslims, however, stated

their case in the All-India Muslim Resolution of January 1,

1929, demanding that further safeguards be granted their community and favouring a federal system with residual powers vested in the Provinces.

From these basic programs

neither party would deviate. During the Second Round Table Conference another feature of Congress policy emerged.

Mr. Gandhi claimed that

his party alone could speak for an united Indian opinion. This assertion relegated the Muslim League to the status of an important communal organization, nothing more.


the Congress leaders were serious when they disclaimed any religious objectives for their movement.

They were probably

honest in their belief that the Nationalist movement was a

123 secular one.

However, the facts did not justify their claim

to speak for all of India.

When the results of the Prov­

incial elections in 1937 were tallied Congress showed that its great strength rested in the Hindu-majority Provinces. The League could not, however, claim that it held the loyalty of the Muslim masses.

Other Muhammedan parties

held the balance of power in the Muslim-majority Provinces. The Nationalists ascribed the communal schism to the presence in India of a third political force, Great Britain. It was the policy of the Paramount Power to “Divide and Rule,6* claimed the Congress leaders.

A careful study of

this question does not wholly justify this claim.

It is

true that Lord Minto did attempt to find some alternate political agency to balance against the demands of Congress radicals.

However, the separate electorates were, it would

seem, the only answer to a religio-eultural problem In India. They were retained in the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1930 only after they had been sanctioned by Congress and the League under the terms of the “Lucknow Pact.1* Each statutory investigation which studied the communal problem condemned the separate electorates but none could suggest an alternative.

No responsible political authority could

have done otherwise than protect the minority interests in a country where religious passions run high.

12^ The failure of Congress and the League to reach accord on the communal question cannot he ascribed wholly to one party.

It seems that the real source of this in­

ability to find a common understanding rests in the inflexi­ bility of the programs of each party.

Neither party would

compromise its position on the issues of electoral institu­ tions and federalism. As soon as the Government of India A c t . 1935 went into operation in the Provinces the Hindu-Muslim conflict shar­ pened.

The struggle now became almost exclusively political.

The League had never been a strong party.

It had not

organized itself on a popular basis as had Congress.


is where the personality of M. A. Jinnah became important in Indian history.

Though Jinnah had been prominent in

Muslim politics for twenty-five years, he had vascillated between nationalist radicalism and Muslim patriotism. During the period of Congress-League cooperation from 1916 to 1922 he had been the ambassador of communal understanding. By 1928, however, he had changed in his attitude towards Congress and Hindu-Muslim accord.

He demanded safeguards

for his co-religionists and began to assert himself as a leader of Muslim opinion. Prom 1937 to 1939 Mr. Jinnah carried on a strong cam­ paign to carry the League’s message to the Indian Muslims.

125 By the time that India entered World War II in September*

1939* he was the unchallenged spokesman for the Muhammedan community.

He charged that the federal system as it was

then operating in the Provinces had failed to safeguard the legitimate interests of the minorities.

When it became

obvious that Congress was going to insist upon Indian inde­ pendence as the price for its cooperation with the war effort* Mr. Jinnah countered with the demand that no changes be made in the constitution without the consent of the League. It would be wrong to imply that the program of the Muslim League was simply a reflection of the opinions of Mr. Jinnah.

Though he was the strong man of League poli­

tics it is certain that his party was simply answering the demands of the Muslim community. dominated by personalities.

Indian politics have been

This was as true of Congress

as it was of the Muslim League.

Jinnah*s relationship to

the League might be aptly compared to that of Jawaharlal Nehru*s to Congress. In final review of this study it would seem that the Congress-League conflict was simply the political expres­ sion of the long-standing communal schism.

The political

unity of India had been achieved only under the agency of British power.

The Pakistan pronouncement in March* 19^-0*

simply announced that the Muslims would determine their own political future separate from the Hindus.

The real achieve­

ment of British policies lay in the fact that instead of many petty rulers in India there would now be but two.



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