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‘By 1946, the political landscape of India had changed quite dramatically. The Muslim League, which had only a decade earlier descended into obscurity after continuous internal rifts and political estrangement, had risen under the leadership of Jinnah to become the 2nd largest party of India. Jinnah had assumed its leadership after his return from a self-imposed political exile in England, and was determined to safeguard the rights of the Indian Muslims at all costs.
What, one might ask, had lead to Jinnah’s fierce conviction that Muslims in a United India would be reduced to 2nd class citizens? For starters, the Muslim representatives in the various political parties of India at the time were by no means popular leaders. They were too few and too powerless, in terms of both political acumen and vision, to claim to represent the 2nd largest religious community of India. The Muslims in the Congress were no different, overshadowed and silenced by their Hindu superiors.
Jinnah’s political ideology had always been opposed to communal differences (which was evident in his years of advocacy for Hindu Muslim unity), but due to the persistent projection of an ancient Hindu civilization that had been ravaged and destroyed by the ‘invaders’ and its convenient acceptance by Congress leaders, and also due to the symbolism that adorned all of the political initiatives undertaken by the Congress, Jinnah had come to conclude that the Muslims of India would sooner or later be forced to assimilate into the fold, being unable to resist against the massive majority group.
Secondly, when the Cabinet Mission was sent to India after the end of WWII to discuss transfer of power with a proposition of grouping together Muslim majority provinces in the East and West of India at par with the Hindu majority provinces and the remaining Princely States, Nehru cited a vicious disagreement with the idea of giving Muslim majority provinces an equal status of representation in the Central government.
Jinnah agreed initially, aware of the fact that the plan dismissed the creation of a separate Muslim state, but insisted on the ‘safeguards and assurances’ that were to be provided to the groupings in terms of Provincial Autonomy. This should be taken as proof of his commitment to securing the rights of Indian Muslims even in a United India after all that had transpired (e.g. 1937 Congress Ministries etc), and is enough to debunk the claims that he was a communally charged opportunist.
Realizing that the Muslim League had now come at par with the Congress, and that Jinnah’s claims of representing ALL the Muslims of India had been justified, the Congress rejected both proposals and did not draft any resolutions in their working committee regarding them. The Viceroy still invited Congress members to join the interim coalition government. Jinnah’s patience had run out by that time, and he had realized that the Congress would never accept the logical and just demands of the Muslim community. He subsequently rejected all plans for a coalition government or any type of system that denied an independent Muslim country.
After the League’s boycott, the Congress readily joined the interim government, all the while conveniently neglecting the demands of the second largest political party of India and the minority community that it represented.’
Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed