The Assembly elections in Assam and Bengal will go down in Indian history as the dark shadows and their scars haunt us for a long time. There has always been community polarization during elections and many elections have been won on this premise, but these elections cross the “Laxman Rekha” that our founding fathers drew long before the elections.
Perhaps it is history repeating itself and time returned to the pre-1947 situation, when one incident led to another and ultimately India was no longer Akhand Bharat only the leaders of the freedom struggle had envisioned: it was split in two, resulting in much bloodshed and misery that traumatized all of civilization. In the end, there was no Akhand Bharat but three different nations: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The process of “weathering” is not new in the Indian context. It could be said without fear that Mohammad Ali Jinnah had perfected this art and his efforts ended in the creation of a nation called Pakistan. Jinnah, who was once called the apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity, who was once considered the rising star of the nationalist movement, eventually became the leader of a community.
Jinnah may be remembered as the father of Pakistan, but the hurt he inflicted on the subcontinent will last a long time. His policy was dangerous and unfortunately the same kind of policy continues. When leaders like Himanta Biswa Sarma and Suvendu Adhikari assimilate Muslims in Pakistan during their election campaign and label them heirs to Babar and Aurangzeb, it brings back old memories and a narrative that Hindus and Muslims are both nations that cannot live. together.
It is true that Jinnah was not the first to propose this theory. The Hindutva icon, Savarkar, had announced long before that the two religions could coexist together and that in this battle of nations, one had to defeat the other and only then could peace reign in the subcontinent. . Even before Jinnah, Hindu rulers like Bhai Parmanand and Lala Lajpat Rai had hinted that this great land, in order to live in peace, had to be divided. While their thoughts could be dismissed as emotional outbursts, Jinnah’s was a well-constructed thought process skillfully supported by the state.
Jinnah was not alone in this endeavor. Before him, his mentor and the great philosopher, Mohammad Iqbal, had laid the foundations. It was Iqbal who coaxed Jinnah into taking over the leadership of Muslims in India. It is a tragedy that Iqbal, who called Lord Ram Imam-e-Hind, wrote to Jinnah that the problems of Muslims could only be solved by Sharia law in a Muslim state. Then he said, “If such a thing is impossible in India, the only other alternative is a civil war which, in fact, has been going on for so long in the form of Hindu Muslim riots.” Jinnah did not disappoint her mentor. During the Lahore session of the Muslim League in 1940, he announced to the world that Muslims should fight for their own independent nation.
Jinnah said India is not a nation, it is a subcontinent made up of nationalities. His hypothesis was strongly supported by the then viceroy, Linlithgow. It is no coincidence of history that it is presumed that Jinnah was prompted by the British administration to keep the two communities divided although there is no evidence to prove this argument, but it is It is also a historical fact that Jinnah never admitted that Congress was the representative of the whole of India.
In the latter part of his life he called Congress a Hindu party and Gandhi a Hindu leader. During the Lahore session in his presidential address, he said: “Why does Mr. Gandhi not honestly recognize that the Congress is a Hindu Congress, that he does not represent anyone other than the solid body of the Hindu people? ? Why wouldn’t Mr. Gandhi be proud to say that I am a Hindu? … I am not ashamed to say that I am a Muslim. Why then this camouflage?
Partition is a reality today. And it is also a reality that a section of Muslims led by Jinnah did not accept the leadership of Congress and Gandhi, and believed that in independent India they would be reduced to a permanent minority and would not enjoy the fruits of independence as the majority community would. But it is also a reality that a large part of Muslims abhorred the theory of the two nations of Jinnah.
Indeed, in 1940, a week after the Lahore conference of the Muslim League, the Azad Muslim conference was organized in Delhi, in which more than a dozen Muslim organizations participated. Reputable newspaper The Statesman described it (the conference) as “the most representative gathering of Muslims.” In his presidential speech, Allah Baksh Soomro, quoted by Ishtiaq Ahmed in his book “Jinnah – Its successes, its failures and its role in history”, argued that “… the simple change of religious faith did not not changed people’s national identity. He lamented that the British are using the Muslim League to prevent the liberation of India as a nation and state.
Today it is argued in a section of academia that Jinnah was not a fanatic; he was not a practicing Muslim and he only used religion to create a Muslim state but what we forget is that a state created in the name of religion, unlike India, could not not become a secular and modern democracy in the truest sense of the word. Despite Jinnah’s most quoted speech on August 11, 1947, that he wanted a secular state in which religious identities would dissolve into citizens, Pakistan slipped into a failed state and in pursuit of true Islam he made devastation on its citizens; sectarian violence became the dominant theme, minorities were crushed and terrorism traumatized its neighbors and victimized its own people.
When Suvendu Adhikari, in his despair, calls Muslims “Pakistani” and refers to the Chief Minister of Bengal as Begum Mamata, he is on a slippery slope. When Himanta Biswa, the chief deputy minister of Assam, says that his party does not need the votes of Miya Bhais, i.e. Muslims from Bangladesh, then he is taking the same path as Jinnah. The BJP, to win the elections in these two states, relied heavily on the Hindu-Muslim divide. The kind of community polarization he has done is mind boggling. We’ll see if that pays them any dividends on May 2, when the results are released, but enough seeds of hate have been sown.
Despite Jinnah’s folly, the Congress, led by Gandhi, did not buy his argument. He refused to admit that Congress was a Hindu party. He refused to accept Jinnah’s condition that Congress could not nominate a Muslim candidate for the interim government in 1946. For the sake of power, he decided not to compromise on the national character of the Congress party. . On this issue, Gandhi, Nehru and then party chairman Azad were on the same page.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of the country’s top leaders today. The theory, advanced by Jinnah, that India is a land of many nationalities, is endorsed, knowingly or not, when a national party does not prevent its leaders from “altering” Muslims. It is a dangerous road. Elections come and go, they will be won and lost, but once a nation turns from its solemn path, the path ahead leads to destruction and disintegration. It is undeniable that in its illusion of correcting the mistakes of the past, the BJP wants to write a new history in Assam and West Bengal. But we must not forget what Marx said: “Men make history, but they do not do it as they please”.
The writer is an editor, satyahindi.com