Ideological Transformation in All IndiaMuslim League post 1937 Provincial ElectionsRashid Manzoor BhatPh.D. Research ScholarDepartment of HistoryAnnamalai University, Annamalai Nagar-608002 AbstractThe study dealswith All-India Muslim League and its devotion to the Idea of Pakistan. It isvery important historical study in which the development of All-India MuslimLeague into a formidable party in 1937-1947 which challenged its opponentIndian National Congress and its work for the cause of Pakistan has beentactfully mentioned.
All-India Muslim League, being a politicalplatform of the Muslim in the Subcontinent, contested the elections of 1937 butit could not get desired success and faced failure. Post1937 provincial elections ideology of All India Muslim league transformed thefate of Indian Subcontinent and the developments which were products of theactivities of All India Muslim League ultimately led to the partition of thecountry.Keywords:Provincial Elections, League, Separateelectorate, Lahore Session, Day of Deliverance, Campaign.Introduction:The All IndiaMuslim league established on 30 December 1906 underthe leadership of Aga Khan and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, is ascribedto have led the blitz for Muslim interests in British India until 1940, when itbegan advocating for a Muslim state. Led by lawyers and reform-minded Muslims,it played a vanguard role in politicizing south Asian Muslims. These IndianMuslims, from the historic Khyber Pass to the borders of Myanmar, made up thelargest Muslim community in the world and were divided into several ethnoregional groups.
Compared with an equally diverse Hindu population, however,Muslims were still a minority and, in most cases, were economically andpolitically underprivileged. The INC included a small sprinkling of Muslimelite, but the party increasingly came under the dominant influence of Hinduleaders such as B.G.
Tilak, who gained further momentum after the division ofBengal into two administrative units in 1905. INC’s agitation politicscoincided with the British promises for constitutional reforms, enabling somemodicum of Indian participation in local affairs. Amid fears and expectations,the Muslim professional elite, joined by some landed groups, met Lord Minto in1906, seeking safeguards for their community in the forthcoming reforms. Theirsuccessful lobbying guaranteed them separate electorates, ensuring adequateMuslim representation on elected local bodies.
It also made them conscious oftheir collective need to create a regular party to operate both as a pressuregroup and an effective watchdog. But the defeat in the elections of 1937changed the mental horizon of the league and they began to demand for aseparate homeland to Indian Muslims. The study is an attempt to bring forth theideology used by the league post 1937 elections to wield its demand ofPakistan. How did it emerge from 106 seats in the provincial elections of 1937to 425 in the provincial elections of 1946? And how did it succeed in wieldingits demand within a span of 10 years. All India Muslim League:After the establishmentof the Indian National Congress as a procurator for the people of India, a necessitywas felt to reassess its claims at impartial representation.
From the very inceptionCongress had displayed clear its interest to escort the rights of only Hindus.Some of the Indian National Congress leaders espoused a extremist policy to formHindu Rashtra in the subcontinent under the guise of a national movement.The Muslims ofIndia were highly dissatisfied by the anti-Muslim approach that the Congressseemed to have adopted. The incidents following the partition of Bengal andUrdu-Hindu controversy toughened the thirst of the Muslims to classify themselvespolitically as separate communityReasons that led to the formation of All IndiaMuslim league:1. Urdu-HindiControversy: The wellknown controversy of Hindi-Urdu began with the demand of the Hindus to replaceUrdu with Hindi as official language in Deva Nagari Script.
The Governor of UP atthat time was Sir Anthony Macdonal, he ejected Urdu from public offices. At thiscritical juncture Congress supported the movement against Urdu which made the Muslimsdisappointed. Therefore, the need for the formation of a Muslim political partywas felt.2.
Attitude of the Congress towardsMuslims: Congress was a Hindudominated party. Its interests were always contrary to those of the Muslims. Itmade the Muslims leaders to have their own separate party which can secure the rightsof the Muslim community.3. Educational and EconomicBackwardness: Education and economic backwardness was another importantcause for the formation of Muslim league as the Muslims were far behind fromthe Hindus as far as Education and Economic prosperity was concerned.
The deplorablecondition of the Muslims could only be uplifted by forming a separate Muslimsorganization that could represent the Muslims. The first session ofAll India Muslim League was held at Karachi and its was presided over by AdamjiPeer on 29 December 1907. It was felt from the very beginning that the League couldnot achieve desired outcome without the proper reinforcement of the British.Therefore, a branch of Muslim league was organised at London by Syed Ameer Ali.The inaugural meeting was held on 6 May 1908, at London Caxton Hall.
The participantswere Muslims and those British people who favoured their view point.Hence a politicalbody came into being which was to play a decisive role in the destiny of theMuslim people of the Indian sub-continent. After the approval by the Minto-MorelyReforms to the demand of separate, it was common sense for the Muslimrepresentation to have a political party which could fight elections, in factthe main purpose for the establishment of Muslims league was to prevent amongthe Muslims, the rise of bias against the other communities besides thedevelopment of the Muslim community. It aimed to safeguard the political rightsof the Muslims and to bring them into the notice of the Government.Whatever may havebeen the effects of Muslim league on both the communities, but it made certain thatthe interests of Muslims must be considered completely separate from those ofthe Hindus. Any fusion of both the communities in future was not possible.
Indian provincial elections, 1937Asmandated by the Government ofIndia Act 1935 Provincial electionswere held in British India in the winter of 1936-37. Elections were held ineleven provinces – Madras, Bihar, Orissa, , Central Provinces, NWFP, Bengal, UnitedProvinces, Bombay Presidency, Assam, , Punjab and Sindh.Circumstances at the time ofElectionThe only parties whichwere in favour of the provisions of the Government of India Act 1935 with regardto centre and provinces were Hindu Mahasabha and National Liberal Federation.In due course oftime, the appetency to fight the elections grew among the Congressmen.
WhenCongress met at Faizpur in 1936, the president of the session was J. Lal Nehru.He said that there was no choice butto contest the elections as it would educate the masses on the politicalpolicies and economic programmes of the party.In the same year1936, Jinnah was elected president of the All India Muslim League. Thus theMuslim league which was up till now in moribund state got a fresh lease oflife. It became a Central parliamentary board to direct the elections and the electionprocess of the Muslims.
Electionsand ResultsTheresult of the election was a blow to the All India Muslim League. The results ofthe provincial elections of 1937 were in favour of the Indian NationalCongress. The total number of seats was 1,585, and INC won 707 (44.6%). INCcontested 739 seats among the 864 seats assigned “general”constituencies and won 617. Congress won 25 seats out of the 125 non-general seats,59 seats were reserved for Muslims, 15 of them were entirely-Muslim Province.The All-India Muslim League came out victorious in 106 seats (6.
7% of thetotal), placing it on second spot. The Unionist Party (Punjab), with 101 seatswas the only other party to win more than 5 percent of the assembly seats. After the election, Jinnah offeredto form a coalition with INC.
But asserted that the Congress should notnominate any Muslim to the ministries, as the league claimed itself to be the solerepresentative of Indian Muslims population. This was not acceptable to theCongress, and it declined the League’s offer of coalition.Transformation in theideology of Muslim LeagueJinnah was aliberal Muslim who espoused unity, equality, and independence for Indians overand above their ethnic or religious identities and, for a long time, strove forHindu-Muslim unity to gain independence. But in the wake of changing politicalalliances and competition among various communities, Jinnah was disheartened bythe activities of INC especially by the Nehru Report of 1928, which refused toaddress prevalent Muslim under-representation in education and the professions.Afterthe Elections of 1937, Muslim League transformed its programme which turned thefate of Indian Subcontinent. In 1938 and 1939, the Muslim League tried to bringto light the grievances of Muslims and Muslim groups in Indian states run byCongress governments; the effort led to documents like SHARIF REPORT(Bihar Province) : 1938, documenting pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim bias underCongress governments and like the PIRPUR REPORT : 1938, Muslim sufferingsunder the Congress rule by A.K.Fazlul Huq.
.Viceroy Linlithgowdeclared India at war with Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939. The IndianNational Congress demurred strongly to the declaration of war against Germany withoutprior consultation with Indians. But on the contrary the Muslim League promisedthe British its support, with Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Qaid-e-Azam) calling Muslims to help the British Raj with enthusiasmat the “critical and difficult juncture,” while asking the Viceroyfor increased protection for Muslims.The Congress WorkingCommittee made it clear that it would cooperate with the British only on the condition,if there would be a central Indian national government, and a commitment to be madeto India’s independence after the war. Congress working committee on 22 October 1939, called its ministries totender their resignations. The resignation protest was supported by JawaharlalNehru, but not by Mahatma Gandhi, who suggested that it would strengthen bothBritish wartime militarization and the Muslim League. Both Viceroy Linlithgowand Muhammad Ali Jinnah were pleased with the resignations.
On 2 December 1939,Jinnah put out an appeal, to the Indian Muslims to celebrate 22 December 1939as a “Day of Deliverance” from Congress. “Day of Deliverance”was a celebration day marked by Muslim League on 22 December 1939. It was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and intended to celebrate the resignation of Congressparty from provincial andcentral offices in protest for not being informed prior the inclusion of Indiain WW2.Demand for PakistanThe idea of Pakistan, did notoriginate all of a sudden. It is stated that the idea of creation of North-WestIndian Muslim State was first put forth by Sir Mohammed Iqbal in 1930. But allthat he wanted was a loose federation and not a separate State of Pakistan. OnMarch 21, 1940 All India Muslim League ultimately came forward with its demand forthe formation of independent State of Pakistan intended to be the homeland ofthe Indian Muslims.
In 1933, Muslim Under-Graduate of Cambridge UniversityRahmit Ali again renewed the demand of Pakistan which was to include Punjab,NWFP, Baluchistan, Sindh and Kashmir but the scheme did not receive muchencouragement. Even Sir Zaffar ullah Khan described it as impracticable.In 1938, Jinnah demanded the divisionof India. But the whole idea was given a serious thought in 1940. It was inthat year that two nation theory was expounded and Pakistan resolution waspassed.
innah visited the viceregal palace atShimla on June 27, 1940, conferring at length with Linlithgow. Afterwards hewrote a memo reaffirming that the Lahore “Pakistan” resolution had become “theuniversal faith of Muslim India” and that the Viceroy had promised him “that nointerim or final scheme of new constitution would be adopted by the BritishGovernment Without the previous approval of Muslim India.” They had also agreedthat “every- thing should be done that is possible to intensify war efforts andmobilise all the resources of India for her defence for the purpose ofmaintaining internal security, peace and tranquillity, and to ward off externalaggression.
” Jinnah insisted that “this can only be achieved provided theBritish Government are ready and willing to associate the Muslim leadership asequal partners in the Government both at the Centre and in all the provinces.”Specifically, he recommended that for the duration of the war the ExecutiveCouncil of the Viceroy he expanded to include at least as many Muslim membersas Hindus “if the Congress comes in”; otherwise Muslims, all to be chosen bythe League, were to have the majority of additional council membership”. In 1942, CrippsMission come to India.
Muslim league rejected the mission on the grounds thattheir demand of a separate state of Pakistan had not been accepted. Besides,the league was also not satisfied with the Constitution making machinerycreated under the scheme.In 1945, Britishgovernment propounded the Wavell plan. The plan was rejected by the leaguealtogether. According to Mr. Jinnah acceptance of such a scheme was likely toweaken League’s claim, for an independent State of Pakistan.
Next came Cabinet Mission proposals.The Mission felt that it was not possible to have a separate State of Pakistan.In the view of the Commission even after the partition of India quite a largenumber of Muslims will remain in India and a good number of Hindus in the newlycreated state of Pakistan.Provincial elections1946Theelections to the Central Legislative Assembly were held in December 1945 andthe provincial elections were held in January 1946. The most spectacularoutcome of these elections was the resounding victory of the Muslim League,which won all the thirty Muslim seats in Central Legislative Assembly. TheCongress did not officially put up any candidate for these Muslim seats,although they claimed to be a “National” body representing the Muslim as wellas Hindus.
The other nationalist Muslim candidates in many cases lost theirdeposits. The most bitterly contested election was in Meerut division whereLiaquat Ali Khan defeated a Congressite Muslim candidate who was backed by thefinances and propaganda machinery of the Congress. Religious slogans were utilized and theterm ‘Pakistan’ was put forward.
Several scholars state that the meaning of theword Pakistan was kept controversial so that it meant different to differentpeople. In the election campaign of 1946, the All India Muslim League formed networkswith traditional power houses, such as landowners and the religious illuminati,in the Muslim-majority provinces to win their support in the election. TheLeague’s success thus was even more impressive than that of the Congress. Quaid-i-Azamremarked that the League had made rapid strides during the past five or sixyears, so much so that Britain, America and other powers realized that it wasthe only authoritative body of the 100 million Muslims of India. On January 11,1946 Muslim League celebrated its success by observing the Victory Day. It was in this atmosphere that onFebruary 20, 1947, British Prime Minister Lord Attlee declared that thegovernment proposed to leave India by June, 1948, positively and in case Indiancommunities did not reach any compromise, even then the government will leavethe country and decide to whom the power in India should be transferred..Then came out the Mountbatten Plan onJune 3, 1947 which provided for the creation of separate dominion of Pakistan,which came into being on 14-15 August, 1947.
It included the provinces of NorthWestern Frontier Province (NWFP), Sindh, West Punjab, East Bengal and BritishBaluchistan. Mr. Jinnah (Qaid-e-Azam) became the First Governor-General ofPakistan. Thus, a new State came into being which came to be known as Pakistan. Conclusion:The elections of 1946 clearly bringinto light the efforts of All India Muslim league that it began post 1937elections. There have been some arguments stating that the demand of Pakistanby the league to 1930s, which is far from the fact. From 1906 to 1937 theleague exhibited to be the sole representative of the Indian Muslims but theelections of 1937 which changed the entire scenario of the league politics weresomewhat a black spot on the dignity of Muslim league that it even failed towin in the Muslim majority states besides the failure demand of coalitiongovernment with India National Congress forced the league to change itsideology. Therefore, it transformed its ideology and demanded for a separatehomeland for Indian Muslims and within a span of 10 years it succeeded in itsdemand of Pakistan.
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