On Federation & Pakistan
1. Challenges Congress/Aurobindo’s words - On 6/1/1939 addressing a meeting at Mahad he said that Premier Kher was simply a figurehead and described other Ministers of the Provincial Govt as dogs of Sardar Patel. Referring to the boastful statement of Patel, which he made at a reception to Kher in Gujarat, to the effect that they welcomed Kher as a devotee of Gandhi otherwise they would have sent him back unceremoniously. BRA said that he would wreak vengeance on Patel for this dire insult to a fellow Mahasrashtrian. If Patel dare insult BRA in this manner, he added he would thrash him.
Bo now the question of the inauguration of the proposed Federation had assumed first class political importance in India. The British statesmen now favored participitation of the Indian states in the Federation without democraticising their State govts. The Congress President, Bose was against the acceptance of Federation. Muslims opposed it tooth & nail. The Hindu Mahasabha wanted to bring it into effect with a view to frustrating the fissiparous tendencies of the Muslims & unifying India. BRA opposed it.
At a meeting in Poona, he explained how federation far from leading the country towards Independence would block its way permanently. The reason, he said, was that British Indian representatives would be free while State representatives would bondmen in the hands of British bureaucrats, who would dictate to the Princes the selection of their representatives. He added, that federation did not forge a common citizenship as people in the States remained State subjects & the Federal govt could not deal with directly. He was in favor of a Unitary Govt as nationalism was compatible with it. Further Federation would not help India unite as it was not open to all States to join it, not would it give responsible Govt as it did not have powers over Defence & Foreign Affairs.
In the course of his speech BRA compared the times of Ranade & Gandhi. The age of Ranade was honest & more enlightened. The leaders took care to be well clad, people engaged themselves in studying & examining the facts of life and molded their lives/characters with the light they found as a result of their research. In the age of Gandhi leaders took pride in being half clad and making India a living specimen of antiquity. Learning was not deemed to be a necessary qualification for a politician and people ceased to read & examine facts of life. So his verdict was that Gandhi age was the dark age of India.
Friends remembered Sri Aurobindo’s words as I typed his this. Excerpts from the book India’s Rebirth that is on the site – “(A disciple:) What is your idea of an ideal government for India? My idea is like what Tagore once wrote. There may be one Rashtrapati at the top with considerable powers so as to secure a continuity of policy, and an assembly representative of the nation. The provinces will combine into a federation united at the top, leaving ample scope to local bodies to make laws according to their local problems ..
The Congress at the present stage - what is it but a fascist organization? Gandhi is the dictator like Stalin, I won’t say like Hitler: what Gandhi says they accept and even the Working Committee follows him; then it goes to the All-India Congress Committee which adopts it, and then the Congress”. (I must mention that in 1920-21 Gandhi started the Khilafat agitation without consulting the Congress Working Committee, a decision that most of us will realize was a blunder and sowed the seeds for Pakistan. His dictatorial attitude was again proved in 1947 when he nominated Nehru although the Committee wanted Sardar Patel to be India’s first PM.)
“There is no opportunity for any difference of opinion, except for Socialists who are allowed to differ provided they don’t seriously differ. Whatever resolutions they pass are obligatory on all the provinces whether the resolutions suit the provinces or not; there is no room for any other independent opinion Everything is fixed up before and the people are only allowed to talk over it-like Stalin’s Parliament. When we started the [Nationalist] movement we began with idea of throwing out the Congress oligarchy and open the whole organization to the general mass. Srinivas Iyengar retired from Congress because of his differences with Gandhi…”
In February BRA attacked the Budget in the Bombay Assembly on many points. From the point of expenditure it was reckless as it included an increase in stamp duty against the declared opposition of the Congress to it, increased duty on consumption of electricity that encouraged people to consume kerosene which was bad for public health. He urged the Govt to abandon their prohibition policy in the larger interests of the province & evolve a proper order of priorities.
2. The echoes of the 7/11/ strike were still echoing in the Assembly. The Committee of inquiry justified the police firing & blamed the Communists /BRA for the disorder. There was a heated argument between BRA & Home Minister Munshi. If BRA was over powering & unyielding in his arguments, the Ministers attacked him by reminding him of his late coming & fleeting visits to the Assembly. And Yet Premier Kher some years later paid tributes to BRA who as leader of the opposition who had made helpful, constructive criticism & suggestions, and pointed out defects.
In July 1930 BRA had a meeting with the leaders of the Chamar community. They had broken with him at the time of the elections on the problem of his conversion. BRA had refused to set up candidates from their community on the ground that they did not support his conversion policy. BRA told them that he had started his work for the uplift of the whole of the DC and favored abolition of sub-castes among the DC / honestly worked towards that end. He told them that the Congress was trying to drive a wedge amongst the DC.
3. World War 2 – just then WW2 broke out broke out in Europe over the safety of Poland. India was committed to the war with Germany by a proclamation of the British Viceroy. The Indian Liberal leaders favored unconditional help to Govt, but the chief Muslim organization led by Jinnah said that the British should create a sense of security and salvation in the minds of the Indian Muslims. At first Nehru Patel favored unconditional help. Gandhi broke down before the British Viceroy at the very thought of the destruction of the British House of Parliament.
At that time the Viceroy announced that although federation was their ultimate objective, under the existing conditions they had put the idea on hold. Jinnah was overjoyed. BRA declared that it was unfair to India that she should have no voice in her foreign policy on declaring war / making of peace. Appealing to the Govt to take steps in preparing Indians for the defence of their country, he reminded the British Govt how they had agreed at the R.TC. that the defence of India was to be treated as the responsibility of India. He stated it was the duty of the British to reassure India of the status she would occupy in the British Empire after the war was over and that India could not willingly fight for principles if she not assured that the benefit of those principles would be extended to her when the war was won.
On Sept 11, the Congress leaders changed their attitude. They declared that a free democratic India would gladly associate herself with free nations for mutual defense & asked the British govt to declare their war aims w.r.t democracy particularly to India. A few days later a joint statement by seven leaders that included Savarkar, BRA, Jamnadas, Kelkar declaring that Gandhi’s claim that the Congress was an all representative was a fascist one and would prove to be a deathblow to Indian democracy.
After discussions with Indian leaders, the Viceroy issued a statement, which said that at the end of the war, the Govt of India Act would be revised in consultation with all the leading parties in India and that no substantial political advance would be made without the consent of the minorities.
Congress were dissatisfied with the statement, asked all their Provincial Ministries to tender their resignations, thus in fact, enabling the British govt to pursue more conveniently a policy which the Congress leaders themselves hated. BRA said that the minorities’ problem would never be resolved unless Gandhi and the Congress gave up their egoistic attitude towards persons & parties outside the Congress. Referring to the Muslim problem, he said that he did not believe in the allegations made by Muslims that they were being tyrannized in the provinces ruled by the Congress. What they wanted along with other minorities, he affirmed, was a share in the Govt. He warned that if the demand of the League for the division of India was allowed to hold the Muslim masses, there would be no hope for a united India and that the responsibility for driving the DC to another fold would lie with the Congress.
The Congress Ministries introduced a war resolution in all the Provincial Assemblies on the eve of their resignations. The Bombay Ministry resolution declared that the British Govt had made India a participitant to the war between Britain & Germany without the consent of the people of India and “have further in complete disregard of Indian opinion passed laws & adopted measures curtailing powers & activities of the Provincial Govt”. BRA reiterated his statement on war policy & declared that the Untouchables would never accept a political status that would make them political Shudras. Speaking in the Bombay Legislature he said, ‘I know my position has not been understood properly in the country. Sir, whenever there has been a conflict of personal & country interests, I have always placed the claims of the country above my personal claims. But I will’, he thundered, ‘leave no doubts in the minds of the people of this country that I have another loyalty to which I am bound and which I can never forsake. The loyalty is to the Untouchables, their interests will take precedence over the interests of the country’.
4. Congress Flip – Flop- The Congress Ministries eventually resigned in obedience to the mandate of their High Command in November 1939. So relieved was Jinnah that he appealed to his community to observe a ‘Day of Deliverance’. BRA told Jinnah that if he could prove 5 out of 100 cases alleged oppression he would prove 100 out of 100 cases before any impartial tribunal. The most significant feature of this day was that two eminent opponents of Gandhi & Congress shook hands a meting at Bhendi Bazaar, Bombay and belched fire on the Congress leadership.
On March 19 DC observed their independence day for it was on that day in 1927 at Mahad that their struggle for emancipitation began. BRA addressed a rally of 10,000 there and observed that it was wrong for Indians to focus on political independence & forget the foremost economic & social problems. Meanwhile the Congress at its annual session in April 1940 at Ramgarh, repudiated any attempt to divide the country. Simultaneously the Muslim League at its annual session at Lahore demanded the creation of Independent States in the North-Western & Eastern parts of India where Muslims were in a majority.
Just then Hitler overran the Low Countries and war took a serious turn for Britain & her allies. Congress leaders abandoned Gandhi’s leadership and offered co-operation in war efforts provided a fully representative National Govt was formed at the center. Jinnah opposed the offer saying it would mean a permanent Hindu majority at the center.
At this point Bose who was dethroned from the Congress Presidentship was growing restless. He came to Bombay to meet Savarkar, Jinnah & BRA. Since Bose had no convincing answer to BRA’s question on what the positive attitude of his party would be to the problem of the Untouchables & refused to put up elections against the Congress their meeting ended. It seemed Savarkar’s inspiring talk changed Bose’s mind and he began to ponder over the possibility of fighting a war of Independence against the British power from outside.
The Congress now switched over again to Gandhi’s dictatorship for a struggle. Gandhi inaugurated the Civil Disobedience Movement in Oct 1940, preaching non-participitation in the war on the grounds of non-violence. As a result, nearly all Congress leaders were thrown in prison. BRA criticized the move and ended by saying, ‘That the Congress is fighting for the cause of the country is humbug. The Congress is fighting to obtain the key of power in its hands. Why did Gandhi not start a civil disobedience movement after the Defence of India Act was passed a year ago?
5. BRA’s book Thoughts on Pakistan – Friends since a précis of the book is available on the site, will cover the main issues raised as given in the book.
• That the Muslims, the book argues are a nation must be accepted without cavil.
• As the resources of Hindustan are far greater than that of Pakistan, the creation of Pakistan will not leave the former in a weakened condition.
• A safe army rid of Muslim preponderance is better than a safe border.
• It prescribes a sovereign remedy for securing peace & homogeneity by arranging for a total exchange of population, Hindus for Hindustan and Muslims for Pakistan.
• The book castigates the anti-reformist tendency of the Muslims. The predominant interest of Muslims is religion, their politics being essentially clerical.
• The brotherhood of Islam is not universal brotherhood of man. It is the brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. For non-Muslims there is only contempt & enmity.
• The Muslim has allegiance to a nation that is ruled by a Muslim, a land not ruled by one is enemy land. Thus, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith & kin.
• The book then asserts that the Muslims are now awakened to a new life. The will to be a nation. Till now they were calling themselves a minority but they have now discovered their destiny.
• After giving philosophical justification for Pakistan, the book asks Hindus whether a united India is worth fighting for. To avoid shipwreck mid-ocean, you must lighten the draught by throwing overboard all superfluous cargo. Forced union will hinder progress. India will be an anemic and sickly State, a living corpse, dead though not buried.
• Partition opens a way to the fulfillment of the destiny each may fix for itself, whether dominion or independence concludes the book.
In his report to the Simon Commission he had criticized separate electorates but now he supported & justified a separate nation for the same Muslims! With the cool intelligence of a doctor he viewed & examined the malady of India. The effect of the book was terrible. It shattered the brains of many Hindu politicians. It was applauded as an epitome of the political & social history of India, and it rocked Indian politics for over a decade. The Muslims rejoiced at this support to their ideal. The Congress brought up with a neither accept – reject philosophy winked at each other. Savarkar stoutly refuted the theory of India’s division. He said that it was not bravery to run away from danger, to abandon the fight, to yield to the aggressor. He warned the Hindus that partition would strengthen the hands of the avowed enemies of India and the hoards would invade India. Partition, said Savarkar, would be a standing menace to the peace, security, liberty & prosperity of India. Unfortunately no front rank Hindus leader issued a counter treatise refuting BRA’s arguments with equal force, scholarship, courage & brilliance.
Friends by supporting India’s partition, can BRA be called anti-Hindu? Debatable! But why did he write the book? Quote from the last three pages of the book, ‘Inspite of all this the Hindus will not give up the illusion that PAK is only the fancy of Mr. Jinnah and that it has no support from the Muslim masses or leaders. These are the reasons why I have addressed so a large part of the argument to the Hindus. A thick and impervious wall of false sentiments and illusions has prevented the Hindu from receiving fresh light. It is because of this that I felt the grave necessity of applying my batteries. I do not know how far I have succeeded but I am satisfied that I have done my duty. If the Hindus don’t do theirs they will be plagued by the very consequences for which they are laughing at Europe and they perish in the same way as Europe is perishing’.
Fully agree with Savarkar’s viewpoint. Partition has made the sub-continent Muslim realize that you can bulldoze the Hindu through a combination of violence & continuous attack of their values. Pakistan has been bleeding India since its birth. It continues to support, encourage & direct terrorist’s activities against the Indian state. Yet it is India that is forever making unilateral peace initiatives, is a pre-partition hangover that the Hindu leadership of our country has yet to get rid off. Perhaps the post independence generation will think differently. Then what is the Solution? That would need a separate article by itself but let me leave you with Sri Aurobindo’s words. A disciple asked him, ‘what is the solution to the Hindu Muslim problem? Said he, organize the Hindus and the problem will take care of itself’.
Friends BRA was the only one to suggest exchange of populations i.e. all Muslims to Pakistan and the opposite. Now if only that had happened post independent India would have been a different place to live in. The movie ‘Hey Ram’ by Kamalhasan made that point very well, there were Hindu Muslim riots in 1920-40’s and continue today. Has anything changed? That would not have been the case had the people of India paid attention to BRA’s exchange of population thoughts.