Where does this Indian belong?

February 29, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

On 25th February 2020 morning, after perhaps reading the morning papers, someone very close to me rang up. As soon as I said “hello” she said “What is happening in Delhi?” and started crying unconsolably. I had not seen the papers and was getting ready to leave for a day long workshop. So, my natural response was: “What happened?” She informed me that Hindu-Muslim riots have erupted, three Muslims are killed, Muslim houses are being attacked. (After a fair bit of investigation now I don’t think her picture of the situation was entirely correct, but that is another matter, and irrelevant here.) I tried to console her; it was not an easy task. One does not even know what could be said over the phone to console someone sensitive, cares for the harmony and people of the country in such a situation.

This little incident started a chain of thoughts in my mind. There are many people in India who supports CAA. Consider protests against CAA as mistaken; however, also support the right to protest of those who consider CAA unjust or against secularism. At the same time, they think, right to protest does not include right to block public thorough fares for months on end. This last is nothing but holding the general public at ransom, I even wonder if such an act qualifies as non-violent. But if they block the roads, it is the job of the police to remove them, peacefully as far as possible, but failing that by force if need be. This is because no one can hold the people at ransom. On the other hand, no politician or private individuals or group of individuals has the right to take law into their own hands, and clear the roads by force.

Someone having above mentioned views when given to understand by the one-sided media that a group of people started riots and targeted minority community, is naturally pained, feels that something deep-down is breaking; something precious being destroyed. They want to give full right to all opinions to be expressed, want peaceful solutions to all problems, and abhor violence and atrocities on anyone. What is the place for such people in present day India? Are they only to cry silently in their homes or can they play a more significant role?

They cannot align with or support the BJP and the government. Supporting CAA is not the same thing as condoning BJP leaders’ poisonous statements, and violence by BJP supporters; even when the anti-CAA protesters go violent often, and are belligerent always. Also, the government has proved itself particularly incapable in handling the propaganda war directly against CAA, and indirectly against the constitutional functioning of the country. In spite of the law being passed in the parliament, in spite of it having the support of sound logic, in spite of it being secular, in spite of it being completely in line with the Indian constitution and promises of the Indian state to minorities of our Islamic neighbours. It has nothing at all against Indian Muslims. And still the government is on the backfoot, could not convince people, could not convince international commentators who know next to nothing of India, and could not expose the deliberate mischief makers in India. It is nothing but phenomenal incompetence on the part of the government. This government is also known to be soft on mob violence. Many of its leaders express hatred and violence for Muslims. Therefore, the kind of people who are pained at violence and all kinds of untruth flying in the air can not belong to the BJP and its supporters.

Another loud and belligerent section of Indians form the most tenacious opposers of CAA. The true purpose, feelings and schemes of this group have already come on the surface. In the very initial days during Jamia protests the most inspiring ‘sheros’, as Barkha Dutt called them, made it clear that their true purpose had nothing to do with secularism or democracy. Their slogan is definitely “Allah hu Akbar” and their purpose is undoubtedly to achieve a world which confirms with “la illah ila allah”. Not to leave any doubts they told the world that their inspiration are likes of Ali Musaliar; the man who led the Mopla riots in which thousands of Hindus were given the enlightening and secular choice of “Islam or death”.

Mr. Sharjeel Imam elaborated and explained the problem, the purpose and the strategy even more clearly. It will be useful to spend some time on Mr. Imam’s exhortations to anti-CAA protesters in Aligarh, who repeatedly clapped and raise the cry of “Allah hu Akbar” at appropriate occasion. Mr. Imam explains his strategy: “… एक और चीज है जो हम दिल्ली में कोशिश करेंगे, … अगर हम स्कॉलर हैं तो इतना तो कर सकते हैं कि एक गैर-मुस्लिम अपने साथ ला सकें, … अगर हम 500 स्कोलर्स की टीम दिल्ली में बनालें मुसलमान, तो 500 हिन्दू हमारे साथ आएंगे ….तो हमारी ज़िम्मेदारी यह है दिल्ली में कि हम 500 मुसलमान 500 हिन्दू सड़कों पर खड़ा करदें अपनी शर्तों पर अपने कॉज़ के लिए, …. हमारी कोशिश यह रही है दिल्ली में कि हम एक ऐसी भीड़ को बना पाएँ जिसमें गैर-मुस्लिम हमारे साथ नारा-ये-तकबीर लगाएँ, वो हमारी शर्तों पर खड़े हों हमारे साथ…” What is important to understand in this is: that this “bhiid” should stand with them on their conditions, for their cause and should shout “Allah ho Akbar”. The purpose or the objective is not Indian constitution, not democracy, not secularism; as we will see shortly. Then what is the purpose? It has layers, let’s have a look.

“ … अगर पाँच लाख लोग हमारे पास हों ओरगनाइज्ड तो हम हिंदुस्तान और नॉर्थ-ईस्ट को परमनेंटली कट कर सकते हैं। … परमनेंटली नहीं तो कम से कम एक-आध महीने के लिए तो कट कर ही सकते हैं।” Many very intelligent Indians are busy explaining that he was not talking of severing north-east from India, he was only talking of road blockade. Listen to the whole video and decide for yourself. Some others organised a march in his support and raised slogans “शरजील इमाम जिंदाबाद. शरजील तुम संघर्ष करो हम तुम्हारे साथ हैं।” One wonders if they are with him in cutting north-east from India permanently as well. Yet others write articles arguing that even if one does not agree with Sharjeel, one should support his right to express his views. Sure, all Indians committed to freedom of speech should support his right to speak his mind. However, I am not sure if the open planning to dismember India is also covered under freedom of speech.

What are Mr. Imam’s problems and what are his goals? The man is quite clear about that. He talks of creating a group of Muslim scholars who are clear “ …कि हम हिंदुस्तान के निज़ाम और आईन से परेशान हैं। अगर ये क्लरिटी है तो ही हम आगे बढ़ सकते हैं, नहीं तो आगे नहीं बढ़ सकते।” The idea then is not to save the constitution (आईन), rather constitution is the problem. Secularism and democracy are the problems, equal rights are the problem for Mr. Imam. To him this is not a problem of CAA, this is a long fight. For what? For freedom of Muslims. According to him “मुसलमानों को आज़ादी नहीं मिली, मुसलमानों पर एक दुश्मन कौम मुसल्लत कर दी गई।” This ‘enemy kaum’, of course are the Hindus whom he wants to support their cause, on his own conditions and wants them to raise nara-e-takbir. Further down he says “जो नाशनलिज्म बोले वह हमारा दुश्मन है”. His animosity for Hindus reminds one the attitude of Muslim leaders from 1985 onwards.

Of course, there shall be a serious objection from many that Sharjeel Imam is not the representative of the anti-CAA protests, that together with Muslims there are right thinking Hindus, most of the secular, democratic and intelligent people, who are against CAA. Sharjeel does not even represent common Muslim’s views. All this may be true. What I want to point out is that a large section of the most tenacious opposers of CAA thinks like Mr. Imam. And also, that this thinking is not discouraged, not condemned, not criticised by the nice intelligent secular democratic people who oppose CAA. Because if they condemn it, they will be dubbed anti-Muslim and anti-secularism. Historians ignore that Sharjeel and Kerala Heroines are speaking the language used by Sir Syed, by Iqbal and by Jinnah.

Another most vocal, voluble section of Indian society is the so-called liberals. They do not find anything wrong in supporting likes of Sharjeel Imam, Ladeeda and Rashids on their conditions. Are busy defending them. Do not see the parallels, as mentioned above, with Syed, Iqbal and Jinnah in their language and arguments. Making the same mistake that Congress under Gandhi made: not seeing the difference between appeasement and agreement; not seeing the difference between safeguard and veto power. If one opposes these clearly Islamic supremacist forces, these so-called liberals declare him/her “the devil” in their righteous indignation. Anyone who supports CAA and opposes the anti-CAA protests becomes a devil to them. Becomes a begot. Becomes a fascist. They do not notice that calling these names to a peaceful proponent of dialogue, even with the most belligerent opponent, is bigotry, is fascism, is intolerance of the first order. And at the same time such righteous people preach freedom of speech, may be for themselves only! The core of these three sections of the population is hardened into bigotry; fringes are somewhat tolerant but ineffective.

For people like Sharjeel, and his ilk, this is not a protest to save the constitution or the democracy or the secularism. It is to declare Islamic supremacy, to tell India that determined Muslims can stop anything.  And to retain the veto for Muslims in making laws in the country. The people genuinely concerned with secularism, constitution and democracy should have condemned these forces; they did not, they only supported and encouraged them. Sharjeel Imam is very clear in defining the problem. The fight is not against CAA; it is against the Indian constitution, Indian state and the “dushman kaum” Hindu. This protest is to force the government to take CAA back, to abandon the ideas of NPR and NRC. Thus, showing the Indian state and the “dushman kaum” that in spite of being a minority every law has to be approved by them first. The exact idea Muslim league worked with. The majority of Muslims does not think in this manner, and perhaps is not with Sharjeel Imams; but neither is that majority stopping or condemning them. The Muslims leaders like Waris Pathan and Owaisi rather seem to agree with the bigotry of like that is Sharjeel.

Why are CAA, NPR and NRC anathema to these people? The stock answer is: Look what happened in Assam? How many have to face untold miseries and are threatened by statelessness, by detention centres.

This is cherry picking. Assam problem was festering for a long time before the Assam accord was finalised. Demography was changing. Local representatives of some political parties were helping Bangladeshi illegal immigrants in acquiring ration cards and other documents. The NRC was not initiated even after the accord in 1985. It was delayed by 25 years. By whom? During this time an untold number of illegal migrants entered the country, tightening of the borders and fencing etc were always opposed by the same so-called liberals. Illegal immigrants were helped in settling and getting documents. Now no one actually knows how many illegal migrants are living in this country. A proper understanding of the problem and proper humanitarian solution of it requires information and data. That can be obtained by NPR and NRC. But those who were party to helping illegal entry and settling in the country are not prepared to face the reality. Thus, all out opposition to all attempts to clarify the situation. It is not fear of genuine Indian citizens being deprived of citizenship; it is the fear of discovering the extent of the problem and involvement of local leaders in it.

The criteria for NPR and NRC are not even finalised so far, and our learned professors are busy building slippery slope arguments, purely as a fear mongering trick. They tell you in advance how people will come to you, you may be marked as doubtful, how a vindictive government functionary can victimise you, and so on. Often these slippery slope arguments resemble the Gauls’ fear of the sky falling on their heads in the famous cartoon series Obelix and Asterix. The only difference being that the simpler Gauls needed no slippery slope argument for their unreasonable fear, which our more complicated professors have to constantly spin.

In this scenario and these groups dominating the discourse, what is place left for someone like the person I mentioned in the beginning of this article? Think of an Indian who wants harmonious and peaceful society; who wants equality, justice and freedom for all; who believes in equal rights for all; who believes in protection of all religious and cultural traditions. But does not concede veto power to any one; condemns all bigotry equally without distinction of majority and minority; rejects belligerence completely. None of the three major forces mentioned above have any space for such an Indian. I believed till recently that such fair thinking Indians form the majority population in this country, be they Hindus, Muslims, or any other religion. Now I am not so sure of this estimate. But I am convinced that unless such Indians guided by equality and justice come together and counter the three hardened intolerant forces mentioned above, we are heading for more turmoil. Two of these forces are clearly bigoted, the third one perhaps delusional and haughty.  Think clearly, where do you belong? In one of the bigoted groups or the self-righteous haughty one or the silently crying one? If the last one; find more like you, talk with them honestly and get together. Or the place for you will vanish completely.


29th February 2020

Conclusion or Breaking free of past

February 16, 2020

 Rohit Dhankar

[In continuation of yesterday’s post titled Fallacious logic cannot kill Facts]

Minds of Indian Hindus and Muslims are shackled by their history. It is not only a restraint, but is a violent grip that squeezes all sense out of them. Hindus have a sense of shame and anger for atrocities (real and imagined) perpetrated on them by Muslim kings, this anger unjustly turns to Muslims of today. In addition for the period under colonial rule they have a sense of betrayal and antagonism for Muslims. Muslims have a sense of pride for the rule of Muslim kings, sense of profound loss that that rule was destroyed by the resurgent groups among the Hindus and British rule. Earlier they expressed this pride in the suppression of Hindus by Muslim kings openly, now spend all their energies in denying atrocities perpetrated by them. Muslims also have a sense of anxiety of assimilation and of majority in a democratic country.

Another angle of grip of history on Hindu mind is the divide between upper castes on one side and Dalits on the other. The historical atrocities perpetrated on Dalits rankle them. The upper casts want to deny that anything of that nature happened, exactly as Muslims want to deny that any atrocities happened on Hindus during the so-called Muslim era.

Any nation to create a unified and just society needs harmony and mutual cooperation between its population groups. The above-mentioned rifts colour our vision and we start interpreting everything in a communal manner due to this grip of history on our minds. We are also unfortunate because most of our political leaders and intellectuals took a route to create this desired harmony that leads exactly in the opposite direction. Rather than developing a historical sense and looking at the truth in eyes, they started creating a past that denies atrocities of Muslim era and exaggerated atrocities on the Dalits. This attitude consolidates in blaming everything on Hinduism and particularly on upper castes among the Hindus. Of course, there is much that should be rightfully blamed on the Hinduism and on the upper castes. But admitting that does not require denying the horrendous Islamic past.

We can not break away from the shackles of history by creating history of our imagination and whitewashing it of all wrongs of our chosen community; the upper castes chosen by the right-wing and Muslims chosen by the left. The whitewashing simply increases impunity in Muslims and anger in Hindus. It works to increase antagonism rather than mitigating it.

We need to develop a ‘sense of history’, and accept the truth. A historical truth is simply a reasonable picture of past created on the basis of available evidence, informed interpretation and logic. It admits variance and fallibility but not baseless imagination.

But more important is development of ‘sense of history’. What I mean by this phrase here is a cognitive attitude to past which has the following characteristics:

  1. Being aware of the GAP: there is and always remains an unbridgeable gap between us as we are today and the past societies and communities we study in history, in other words, our supposed to be ancestors. This gap is caused by time and space. Humanity, its purposes, values, understanding and entire world view undergoes constant change. When we study the time of Harshvardhan or Akbar or Aurangzeb we need to remember that the people in that era and those historical figures had their own values and purposes; and real-life pressures and contingencies. They were not acting according to our values. Of course, we can evaluate and discuss their actions according to our values today; but identifying with them or seeing our immediate enemies or alter egos in them would be a failure of reason on our part.
  2. Realisation by the Hindu that today’s Muslims cannot be held responsible for the actions of Muslims in the past: most of the antagonism and hatred is rooted in the irrational impulse to see today’s Muslim as somehow responsible for what Mahmud Ghazni or Aurangzeb did to Hindus. This impulse is completely stupid. I cannot reasonably hold responsible the Muslim sitting next to me in the bus for destruction of Somnatha temple. In the same Similarly, he also has to realise that he is not the worshipper of Somanatha that suffered that atrocity. It was a condemnably barbarity, and can be a matter for objective analysis; but the personal hurt and identification is illusory and harmful.
  3. Realisation by the Muslim that it is not incumbent on his to feel responsible for the past atrocities of Muslims: The other side of the same understanding is the Muslim sitting next to me cannot see himself as the butshikan that Ghazni was. If he takes pride in the acts of Ghazni and Aurangzeb he is not only living in illusion but is also bounded in medieval anti-humanity Islamic attitude. It makes him a stunted human being and bigot. We both have to free ourselves from our respective past-bound identification and see ourselves as independent individuals today, who are capable of forming our own opinions and making our own choices.
  4. Understanding the continuity and change: yes, we are partly a product of our past, our culture, the knowledge and literature our ancestors produced. But we are not completely fashioned out of our past as a robot or a zombie. We have our own minds and, as said above can make our informed choices. History is necessarily intertwined with our cultural heritage and religious views. Unless we are able to look at our cultural heritage and religion critically, there is no hope of freeing ourselves from the shackles of history. A Hindu who cannot admit that Rama might have committed dozens of mistakes in spite of being considered maryadapurushottam, and a Muslim who cannot admit that Muhammad might have equally mistaken in spite of being considered the ideal for Muslims; are both surely indoctrinated and are likely to be bigots as well. We have to take what supports justice and equality in our heritage and ruthlessly discard what goes against these values.

The problem at this moment is that we are not able to distance ourselves from our pasts. Distancing does not necessarily mean disowning. It only means critical appreciation and appropriate rejection. This kind of attitude to history cannot be developed in one community alone. It either happens simultaneously or does not happen. When we take pride in historical figures who were perpetrators of atrocities, we rankle the other community. When a reputed Muslim Imam calls Mahmud Ghazani his “wali” (a divinely inspired leader, saint) on national television he is aligning with him, appreciating his acts of temple destruction and is indicating that he remains in the same tradition of idol-destruction and spreading Islam by all means. When a modern Muslim student declare Ali Muslyar as her hero and role model, she is appreciating killing, rape and forced conversions in Mopla rebellion. When a Hindu justifies Rama’s killing of Shambuk or Sita’s agnipariksha he is showing his attitude to modern Dalits and women as inferior. This owning of historical figures together with their atrocities does not allow the required distance from the past. And infuriates the community against whom the atrocities were perpetrated.

The path to create harmony between communities goes though creating distance and critical reading of history. And not through whitewashing the historical wrongs through spinning spacious theories. The creators of spacious theories and authors of articles like Ms. Subramanya’s might be well meaning people who may believe themselves to be working for harmony. But they are actually creating more antagonism, and their acts are like putting vinegar in the wounds. This kind of history destroys harmony rather than helping it; simply because facts can not be killed by fallacious logic. The quote on the title page of Ambedkar’s “Thoughts on Pakistan” is still relevant with a change of tense: “More brain, O Lord, more bain!! Or we shall mar, Utterly this fair garden we might win”. Well, we have won the ‘fair garden’, Ambedkar’s lord didn’t listen, and we have marred the garden.


Fallacious logic cannot kill Facts

February 15, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

A friend posted an article in a WhatsApp group by Ms. Rupa Subramanya proclaiming her judgment that “Facts Don’t Back The Argument That Most Indian Muslims Wanted Partition”[1]. Ms. Subramanya, of course, is fully entitled to her opinion. Such articles and proclamations, however, need a careful analysis. Not because they are written with great care or give new analytical insights; but simply because they are part of a uncontrolled flood of not so subtle attempt to falsify history. I am not really interested in Ms. Subramanya’s article in particular; but am only making it an example here of fallacious arguments and questionable facts used in this grand project of falsification.

Ms. Subramanya’s article hinges on the tag line it uses: “86% of adult Muslims in British India did not even have the right to vote”. This is her main argument: that the claim that 86% Muslims voted in favour of Pakistan in 1945-46[2] elections is not born out by facts as 86% Muslims did not even have the right to vote at that time. We will analyse this logic in detail in a moment. Her reasoning assumes that since the franchise was confined to people who had property, paid tax or were literate; the poor and illiterate were not represented by the voting pattern, and actually, they might have been of the opposite opinion. She also advances the claim that Jinnah and Nehru became such popular leaders only because franchise was limited to what she calls elite, and both these leaders themselves were elites.

Some background and factual corrections

Before analysing her claims and arguments, however, we must very briefly dwell on some background and correct a few factual errors. The errors are not grave and do not subtract much from her argument. Nor am I correcting them here to form an adverse opinion on her judgment. I am pointing out these errors only for the sake of record. Ms. Subramanya rightly says that 1946 elections were held under the Government of India Act 1935 (GoIA 1935). But in the next sentence she talking of franchise being only 3% of the population for Central Assembly. It would be useful to bear in mind that Central Assembly elections were held in December 1945 and the composition of the Central Assembly was as per the Government of India Act 1919, and not as per the GoIA 1935.

Her claim about Muslim population being 120 million in 1946 is wrong on two counts. First, according to Ambedkar the total Muslim population in India as per 1940 census was 92,058,096[3]; Ms. Subramanya herself gives another figure of “94 million Muslims in India[4]” in the next paragraph of her own article. This needs to be checked. As per Ambedkar Muslim population in British India was only 79,398,503; remaining 12,659,593 being in the Indian states. The elections were held only in the British India, and not in the Princely States (called Indian States), therefore, only about 80 million Muslims were represented in the elections.

Another background information that will be useful is the composition of the Federal Legislature of India as per GoIA 1935. According to the Article 18(1) of GoIA 1935 “There shall be a Federal Legislature which shall consist of His Majesty, represented by the Governor-General, and two Chambers, to be known respectively as the Council of State and the House of Assembly (in this Act referred to as “the Federal Assembly”)”. “His Majesty” here refers to the King of England. “The Federal Assembly” is variously referred to in literature as “Central Assembly”, etc. The seats in the Federal Legislature were as follows:

 Names of HousesBritish IndiaIndian StatesTotal
Council of State156104260
Federal Assembly250125375

Since the rulers (Kings and Nawabs, etc.) of Indian states did not participate in the elections for the Central Assembly, they were held as per GoIA 1919.

Ambedkar shows the minority representation in the lower houses of Provincial Legislatures according to GoIA 1935 as in the following table:

PROVINCE  Total Seats.MuslimsScheduled CastesIndian ChristiansSikhs
Seats Allotted under the Act.  Seats due according to Population.Excess + or Deficit –Seats Allotted under the Act.  Seats due according to Population.Excess + or Deficit –Seats Allotted under the Act.  Seats due according to Population.Excess + or Deficit –Seats Allotted under the Act.Seats due according to Population.Excess + or Deficit –
Bombay1753016+ 141516–133NilNil
U. P.2286635+312049–292Nil+2Nil1–1
Bihar1524020+201520–51Nil+ 1NilNil
C.P. & Berar112145+92020NilNilNilNil
Assam1083436–2771Nil+ 1NilNil
Orissa604I+369–31Nil+ 1NilNil

The 1946 provincial elections were held as per this distribution of seats.

Election Results

The results of the elections for the Central assembly are shown in the table below:

PartyGen. (52)Mulm. (30)Euro. (9)Landed ppl.(7)Sikh (2)Indian Communities(4)Total Seats
Indian National Congress520 0  0 59*
Muslim League030000030
Akali Dal0000202
Independents00  0 3*
Total      102

Indian Muslim League swept all Muslim seats and did not get any other. Indian National Congress swept all general seats and got 7 additional, failed to win a single Muslim seat. This is important because Congress was claiming that it represents all Indians, Muslims included. Congress not winning a single Muslim seat disproved this claim as far as elections can prove or disprove such a claim.

The performance of Muslim League can be understood from the following table:

ProvinceMuslim SeatsMuslim League% Of Muslim Seats won by Muslim League% of Muslims in total popula-tion
Central Provinces141393%4.7
United Provinces665482%15.3
North West Frontier Province361747%91.8

 Muslim League won 87% of the allocated Muslim seats; 429 out of 492. The remaining about 13% seats did not go to congress or any other all-community party but to various provincial Muslim parties. One general pattern is that lower the percentage of Muslims in total population of a province, higher the percentage win for Muslim League. Which means that the voters of the provinces like Orissa, C.P., Madras, Bombay, Bihar, U.P. all were supporting the Muslim League agenda. Muslim population in all these mentioned provinces was less than 16%. The question before the voters was quite clear: should India be divided into Hindustan and Pakistan? And more than 87% seats were won on this agenda. There are some (not very reliable) data available which says that 89% of Muslim voters went to Muslim League and less than 4.5% to Congress which was opposing partition and was claiming that it represents all Indians including Muslim League. Maulana Azad was president of Congress during these elections. Again, the congress’ claim of representing Muslims at that time was busted, and it was clearly established that the Muslim League is the only true representative party of Muslims at all India level.

Spacious arguments to kill the facts

Now we can come to Ms. Subramanya’s arguments. Her refrain “86% of adult Muslims in British India did not even have the right to vote” is technically true enough, but her argument that a similarly high percentage of Muslims did not support Pakistan is not sustainable.

Today we have adult franchise. And most of the local and national leaders came from rich economic background. Aren’t the common poor people voting for them? What is more reasonable? To say that the voters in 1945-46 elections represented the mood of the Muslim population in general? Or to claim that the voters went against the mood and wished of common Muslim in those elections? Such things can not be decided mathematically or on clear deduction. One has to hazard an educated guess and form a reasonable opinion. The public mood is also indicated in participation in election meetings, rallies held by the leaders and support they indicate generally. Are there any indication from such activities that overwhelming Muslim support was not available to Muslim League? If no such indication is available anywhere, wouldn’t claims like Ms. Subramanya’s be either dogmatic or motivated? 

She claims that Nehru was also such a popular leader because there was an ‘elite’ electorate. First, the overwhelming majority of the voters were elite by no means. Yes, they either paid taxes, or owned a house or land (even farm land) or were literate. But none of these things make them elite. If Nehru’s popularity depended on limited franchise it should have dipped in 1952 and 1957 election; especially as Hindus were also angry because of the partition. Have a look at the table below, for the first three Lok Sabha elections after independence, which Congress fought in Nehru’s leadership:

YearElectionTotal seatsPartySeats% votesPartySeats% votesPartySeats% votes
1951–521st Lok Sabha489INC36445%CPI163.29%SOC1210.59%
1957[6]2nd Lok Sabha494INC37147.78%CPI278.92%PSP1910.41%
19623rd Lok Sabha494INC36144.72%CPI299.94%SWA187.89%

INC=Indian National Congress

CPI=Communist Party of India

SOC=Socialist Party (India)

PSP=Praja Socialist Party

SWA=Swatantra Party

BJS=Bharatiya Jana Sangh

Why the INC with elite Nehru at its helms won respectively 74%, 75% and 73% seats with between 47.7% to 45% vote shares with adult franchise of poor uneducated Indians? Why the messiah of poor the CPI was junked by the very poor with 3-8% seats with 3-9% vote share?

Yes, Jinnah was an elite and his politics was elite till about 1930. He even proposed once that Congress should not allow membership for anyone not having a matriculation certificate. But then Jinnah changed. Dr. Ambedkar, who was in the thick of the Indian political drama writes about Jinnah’s change as follows:

“… Mr. Gandhi started by protesting that the Muslim League did not represent the Muslims and that Pakistan was only a fancy of Mr. Jinnah. It is difficult to understand how Mr. Gandhi could be so blind as not to see how Mr. Jinnah’s … influence over the Muslim masses has been growing day by day and how he has engaged himself in mobilizing all his forces for battle. Never before was Mr. Jinnah a man for the masses. He distrusted them. To exclude them from political power he was always for a high franchise. Mr. Jinnah was never known to be a very devout, pious or a professing Muslim. Besides kissing the Holy Koran as and when he was sworn in as an M.L.A., he does not appear to have bothered much about its contents or its special tenets. It is doubtful if he frequented any mosque either out of curiosity or religious fervour. Mr. Jinnah was never found in the midst of Muslim mass congregations, religious or political. Today one finds a complete change in Mr. Jinnah. He has become a man of the masses. He is no longer above them. He is among them. Now they have raised him above themselves and call him their Qaid-e-Azam. He has not only become a believer in Islam, but is prepared to die for Islam. Today, he knows more of Islam than mere Kalama. Today, he goes to the mosque to hear Khutba and takes delight in joining the Id congregational prayers. Dongri and Null Bazaar once knew Mr. Jinnah by name. Today they know him by his presence. No Muslim meeting in Bombay begins or ends without Allah-ho-Akbar and Long Live Qaid-e-Azam. In this Mr. Jinnah has merely followed King Henry IV of France—the unhappy father-in-law of the English King Charles I. Henry IV was a Huguenot by faith. But he did not hesitate to attend mass in a Catholic Church in Paris. He believed that to change his Huguenot faith and go to mass was an easy price to pay for the powerful support of Paris. As Paris became worth a mass to Henry IV, so have Dongri and Null Bazaar become worth a mass to Mr. Jinnah and for similar reason.”[5] [Italics added]

Thus the ‘elite’ voter did not represent 86% Muslims is a fallacious argument. Yes, Muslim league started as an elite party of Muslims. It had it’s roots in Sir Syed’s Muslim Education Conference and Nawabs and what Sir Syed calls ‘Raises’. But Mr. Jinnah changed that after 1935. And finally it was party of all Muslims, elites as well as the penniless. 

What does Dr. Ambedkar say on Muslim support to Pakistan?

Those who want to understand Muslim politics through Ambedkar’s eyes should read his book ‘Pakistan or the Partition of India’.[6] Here I will give just a few hints. Ambedkar begins chapter eleven on communal aggression on page 249 thus: “[E]ven a superficial observer cannot fail to notice that a spirit of aggression underlies the Hindu attitude towards the Muslim and the Muslim attitude towards the Hindu. The Hindu’s spirit of aggression is a new phase which he has just begun to cultivate. The Muslim’s spirit of aggression is his native endowment and is ancient as compared with that of the Hindu. It is not that the Hindu, if given time, will not pick up and overtake the Muslim. But as matters stand to-day, the Muslim in this exhibition of the spirit of aggression leaves the Hindu far behind.” [Italics added].

It will take a blind man not to notice that the Hindu has picked up and is currently perhaps in the process of overtaking. And it will take an indoctrinate and biased man not to notice that what Ambedkar says here about Muslim aggression is equally true and continues unabated, even after partition.

Now, many would question that this impression is created because of the aggressive politics of Muslim League and is not true of common Muslim. There is a truth in this argument, common Muslim is as good or bad as a common Hindu. But in Ambedkar’s time Muslim politics had a character, and that character was very useful in turning the common Muslim into an undaunting supporter of the political aggression taken up by Muslim parties. Ambedkar writes on page 232-33 of the same book: “Muslim politics takes no note of purely secular categories of life, namely, the differences between rich and poor, capital and labour, landlord and tenant, priest and layman, reason and superstition. Muslim politics is essentially clerical and recognizes only one difference, namely, that existing between Hindus and Muslims. None of the secular categories of life have any place in the politics of the Muslim community and if they do find a place—and they must because they are irrepressible—they are subordinated to one and the only governing principle of the Muslim political universe, namely, religion.” [Italics added]

To test Ambedkar’s thesis, think of any political cause taken up by Muslim and see how quickly it acquires a religious colour, even today. This principle allows Muslim leaders to take the masses along with them like they did in the case of partition. The religion being the centre of politics helps politicians in gaining aggressive mass support on any issue simply by dubbing it religious. 

Though it is somewhat tangential to the present issue in this article, but Ambedkar’s thinks that there was a lot of undue appeasement in the sordid story of partition. After dismissing Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha version of alternative to Pakistan as non-sense[7]; he asks if Congress can provide some alternative. And says on page 270: “It seems to me that the Congress has failed to realize two things. The first thing which the Congress has failed to realize is that there is a difference between appeasement and settlement, and that the difference is an essential one. Appeasement means buying off the aggressor by conniving at his acts of murder, rape, arson and loot against innocent persons who happen for the moment to be the victims of his displeasure. On the other hand, settlement means laying down the bounds which neither party to it can transgress. Appeasement sets no limits to the demands and aspirations of the aggressor. Settlement does. The second thing the Congress has failed to realize is that the policy of concession has increased Muslim aggressiveness, and what is worse, Muslims interpret these concessions as a sign of defeatism on the part of the Hindus and the absence of the will to resist.”

The reference to rape, looting, arson etc. comes in connection with Gandhi never criticising Muslim rioters, including what Ambedkar calls “blood curdling” and “indescribable” atrocities of Moplas against Hindus.

He also discusses the Muslim alternative to Pakistan, in which they demand for 50% share in everything for abandoning the demand for Pakistan. And at the end of the chapter gives a very sane advice which India did not take. His advice was: “All I would like to say in this connection is that the Hindus before determining their attitude towards this question should note certain important considerations. In particular they should note that there is a difference between safeguards to allay apprehensions of the weak and contrivances to satisfy the ambition for power of the strong: that there is a difference between providing safeguards and handing over the country. Further, they should also note that what may with safety be conceded … to the weak to be used by it as a weapon of defence may not be conceded to the strong who may use it as a weapon of attack.

These are important considerations and, if the Hindus overlook them, they will do so at their peril. For the Muslim alternative is really a frightful and dangerous alternative.”

… to be continued with Conclusion, tomorrow

[1] https://www.huffingtonpost.in/rupa-subramanya/facts-dont-back-the-argument-that-most-indian-muslims-wanted-pa_a_22488885/

[2] 1945 the Central Legislative Assembly and 1946 Provincial Legislatures.

[3] Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar WRITINGS AND SPEECHES VOL. 8 (Pakistan or The Partition of India), Ed Vasant Moon, Pub. Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, New Delhi. pg 419. Ambedkar mentions Census Report of 1940, I am not sure it is not a mistake, and perhaps Census was conducted in 1941.

[4] This figure seems to be from Census of India 1941, Vol.1.

[5] Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar WRITINGS AND SPEECHES VOL. 8 (Pakistan or The Partition of India), Ed Vasant Moon, Pub. Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, New Delhi. pg 407-8

[6] Easily downloadable in pdf from https://www.mea.gov.in/Images/attach/amb/Volume_08.pdf

[7] “The slogan of the Hindu Maha Sabha President— Hindustan for Hindus— is not merely arrogant but is arrant nonsense.” Pg.270