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Muslim League 100 years old: 1945-1946 Elections

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Muslim League 100 years old: 1945-1946 Elections
By hamdani

1945-46 elections: the critical variable

The dramatic rise of Pakistan on August 14-15, 1947 ? what really made it possible? A host of factors, at once extremely significant and truly consequential. And the more important among them were:

(i) a fortuitous configuration of forces and developments, both national and international;

(ii) the myopic policies of the dominant and entrenched Indian National Congress which sought to impose on Indian?s bi-national body politic the Nehruvian ?two-forces? doctrine which left little space for any political body, force or group to operate on India?s sprawling political chessboard and to push down the unwilling throats of some ninety million Muslims the Westminsterian pattern of (one-party) majoritarian rule without heed to consequences, instead of opting for the Swiss model which suited the multi-national Indian political landscape, when it ruled the Hindu-majority provinces during 1937-39;

(iii) Jinnah?s astute leadership which promised Muslims the reversal of their fortunes in the bleakest hour of their annals since the traumatic 1857 Rabellion, his herculian efforts to gather all the Muslims, despite their regional, racial and linguistic cleavages, on a single-point but all-comprehensive Muslim League platform and behind the Pakistan demand; and

(iv) the massive response his appeals elicited from the Muslim masses throughout the the length and breadth of sub-continental India, as indexed by the 1945-46 general elections? triumphant verdict.

But all said and done, the last variable made Pakistan possible. Indeed, the massive electoral verdict in Pakistan?s favour during 1945-46 was the most important development between 1940 and 1947 ? between the adoption of the Lahore Resolution and the emergence of Pakistan. By all standards, this verdict represented the critical variable in the establishment of Pakistan.

Its criticality is underlined by, among others, the fact that it fulfilled the primary condition laid down by Gandhiji for the acceptance of the Pakistan demand. And Gandhi had spoken for, and on behalf of, the Congress. Within three weeks of the passage of the Lahore Resolution he wrote in the Harijan (April 13, 1940), ?I refuse ... to believe that the eight crore Muslims will say that they have nothing in common with their Hindu and other brethren. Their mind can only be known by a referendum made to them du1y on that clear issue .... It is purely a matter of self-determination. I know of no other conclusive method of ascertaining the mind of the eight crore of Muslims.?

Clearly, Gandhi?s pronouncement was in the nature of a challenge. It stemmed from the self-conceived Congress delusion I that the Muslim League did not represent the Muslim masses and that the demand for the division of India had been put forward as a ?bargaining counter? by an extremely ?calculating? political strategist called Jinnah.

Earlier in 1937, when Jinnah had put forward the claim that the Indian Muslims represented the ?third? party - i.e. the ?third? side in India?s political triangle - as a riposte to Pundit Nehru?s ?two-forces? formula, his claim was brushed aside with high disdain, and ridiculed. Likewise, from 1937 onwards the claim that the Muslim League was Muslim India?s authoritative political spokesman was contested bitterly and almost to the end. Above all, the Congress refusal to concede the League?s claim led to the breakdown of the first Simla Conference (1945).

Soon after the Simla breakdown, Jinnah demanded a reference to the electorate to decide the Pakistan issue, once and for all. And since a permanent settlement of India?s constitutional problem cou1d not possi?bly be arrived at without such a reference, His Majesty?s Government announced the holding of General Elections in winter 1945-46.

In the circumstances, two major issues dominated the elections: (1) whether the Muslim League repre?sented the Muslims; and (2) whether the Muslims stood for Pakistan. Although a plethora of parties participated in the elections, only two mattered ? the Congress and the Muslim League. And in the election foray the League tried to muster up whatever support and strength it cou1d to prove its two-pronged claim, and the Congress gird up its loins precisely to disprove that claim.

Since the adoption of the Pakistan Resolution the Congress had sought to couch the Congress appeal in terms of specifically Muslim interests, both long-term and immediate. And since the Muslims were already alienated, the Congress could not and should not approach them directly. Hence it should be done through its client Muslim parties, more particularly through their religious leaders who, being always held in high esteem, had donned the leadership role, especially during the Khilafat movement (1919-24). These Muslim parties should ?unmask? the League and its leadership. And they should explode the ?myth? of its claim to represent Muslim India as a whole. Thus a series of conferences of pro-Congress Muslim parties were held, mainly in the UP and the Punjab, the ?key? Muslim areas, to challenge the League?s representative status and to denounce Pakistan.

And with the elections at hand, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who so superbly and methodically supervised the campaign in the Muslim constituencies, devised a strategy by which all the non-League Muslim parties, what?ever their standing and whatever their objectives, coalesced with one another on the sheer basis of their opposition to the League and to Jinnah. They included the Jamiatul Ulema-i-Hind, All-India Muslim Majlis, Azad Muslim Board, All-India Shia Political Conference, Sunni Board (UP), Momin Conference (Bihar), Khudai-Khidmatagars (NWFP) and Anjuman-i-Watan (Baluchistan), besides the Ahrars and the Khaksars, who were principally active in the Punjab. The Congress also solidly supported Fazlul Haque?s Krishak Proja Party (KPP) in Bengal, Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana?s Unionist Party in the Punjab, and G.M. Sayed?s Progressive Muslim League in Sind, which was launched late in December 1945, upon his expulsion from the Muslim League ? although each one of them still ?professed? to stand by the Pakistan ideal. Azad served as the chief coordinator between these disparate groups, mas?terminding a united front.

Azad?s first salvo was the convening of a Nationalist Muslim Conference at New Delhi on September 8, 1945, fol?lowed by the setting up of a Central Azad Board on September 17, 1945, and of an Azad Muslim Parliamentary Board at its first meeting in Delhi on September 25.

Since Pakistan had to be established in the Muslim majority areas, the Congress gave the utmost attention to them, especially to Bengal and the Punjab, allocating huge funds to these two ?key? provinces in the Pakistan taxonomy. Thus Maulana Daud Ghaznavi, President, Punjab Provincial Congress Committee, asked for Rs. 600,000 while Bhim Sen Sachar demanded Rs. 500,000. Patel sent Rs. 150,000 to Bengal, and asked B.C. Roy to approach C.D. Birla for further funds.

Patel also made it clear to all and sundry that he ?was expected to help them only in the matter of Muslim Constituencies?. With his headquarters at Bombay and Poona, the ?iron dicta?tor? of the Congress spent a good deal of time and energy, and carried a heavy load of correspondence with, besides Azad, the Congress leaders in the provinces, to coordinate and organize the anti-League forces, in order to give the League a tough fight at the hustings. And to make matters worse for the Muslims and the League, Patel?s strenuous efforts, Nehru?s tireless rhetoric and the Congress? oriented press? inspired stories gave nerve and verve to the League?s opponents as never before. And when they found little response to their call among the Muslim masses, they came down to downright abuse, anathemising fatwas, and violence.

In spite of the mounting crusade against the League, Jinnah?s strategy at this juncture remained the same as it was during 1936-37: he played cool and confident; his appeals to non-League Muslims became frequent, insistent, even entreating, holding out a hearty welcome, sans malice, sans vindictiveness, sans revengefulness. While the Congress?s conduct at Simla had disillusioned a large segment of Congressite Muslims, the implied recognition at Simla that the League alone was capable of delivering the goods on Muslims? behalf awakened the still uncommitted non-Congress Muslim leaders to the dire need for joining the League?s bandwagon. Such thinking led a host of Congressite and non-Congressite Muslims to sign up the League?s pledge. Most prominent among them were Khan Abdul Qayum Khan, Deputy Leader of the Congress Party in the Central Assembly, Mian Iftikharuddin, formerly President of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee, and the Unionists? stalwarts - Mian Feroz Khan Noon, Nawab Major Mumtaz Tiwana, Begum Jahan Ara Shahnawaz and Syed Amjad Ali.

In the League?s election campaign, the most decisive was the role of four groups: students, the pro-League ulema, Muslim journalists and businessmen. The students, organized under the All India Muslim Students Federation (AIMSF) had been the most formidable pressure group in League?s favour since 1937. Student volunteers from Aligarh, Dhaka, and the Islamia Colleges at Calcutta, Allahabad, Lahore and Peshawar played a pivotal role and students from colleges and universities elsewhere also fanned out in thousands, campaigning for the League.

As a counter to the pro-Congress Jamiatul-Ulema-i-Hind, a pro- League Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam was organized in October 1945. Its patron, Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, despite his advanced age, helped to organize several conferences, as far afield as Calcutta, Lahore, Meerut and Bombay. He also campaigned vigorously and effectively, arguing the case for Pakistan cogently and convincingly, and crossing swords with the Jamiat and Ahrar stalwarts on their home ground. Indeed, in countering their propaganda, Maulana Usmani?s role was decisive.

Though meagre in number, resources and circulation and poorly organized, the Muslim newspapers yet made an extremely significant contribution in countering the malicious Congress propaganda and in preparing Muslim opinion. Equally crucial was the role of the Muslim businessmen and entrepreneur class. They responded heartily to Jinnah?s call for ?silver bullets? and their liberal contributions, mostly by Bombay and South African businessmen, helped the League to fight the elections. What, however, was striking were the thousands of contributions in one, two, and three figures, hundreds of them being less than one rupee, received by Jinnah, underlining the low-income status of the contributors. While the ?big? contributions had indicated that the League had turned, or was at the threshold of being transformed, into a bourgeoisie organization, turning its back on its feudal character, the ?small? donations denoted the measure of social depth the League had acquired since Jinnah took upon himself the task of mobilizing the ninety million Muslims under the League?s canopy.

Despite this positive metamorphosis the League had undergone and despite these contributions, big and small, the League?s finances were no match for the Congress and the Unionists? overflowing election chests. R.K. Nehru, one of the Secretaries to the Government of India, asked Begum Shah Nawaz, who had just resigned from the Viceroy?s Council to fight the elections in the Punjab, ?what chance could the poor Muslim League have of defeating? the Unionists, which ?had collected forty lakhs of rupees?. Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, noted that the League was poor in finances. So did Governor Cunningham in respect of the NW.F.P.

Clearly, Jinnah had a hard time meeting the demands of the Provincial Leagues (PMLs), especially from the majority provinces. Punjab was short of Rs. 300,000 and Mohammad Ayub Khuhro from Sind appealed frantically for a donation of Rs 100,000 from the central fund since G.M. Sayed, President of the Sind Provincial Muslim League, had decamped with the Provincial League?s funds when he revolted against the Central High Command.

Despite all the odds arrayed against it, the League was yet able to win all the thirty Muslim seats, eight of them unopposed, in the elections to the Central Assembly. It secured 87.7 per cent votes, and in 18 constituencies, its opponents, including those nominated directly by the Congress, forfeited their securities. The most critical contest was in the Meerut Rural Muslim constituency, a Jamiat stronghold, where the AIML General Secretary, Liaquat Ali Khan, was almost fatally pitted against Mohammad Ahmed Kazmi, a sitting MLA. Considered ?a test case? by one and all, the Meerut constituency was swooped upon by the top Jamiat, Ahrar and Congress leaders in droves, for weeks on end ? by Maulanas Hussain Madani, Hifzur Rahman, Hissamuddin, and even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, among others. After six days of intense campaigning, covering almost the entire constituency, an exultant Nehru wrote to Patel on November 26, 1945, ?Especially in the rural areas in the U.P., the Congress is popular among the Muslims? it is possible that Kazmi might win?. But, he didn?t. Yet, he had the supreme consolation of having secured the highest percentage of votes (38%) by any of the League?s opponent in the central elections.

In his Victory Day message on January 11, 1946, Jinnah claimed that ?the cent per cent success is unparalleled in any country or nation? and exhorted his followers to ?march forward and sweep the provincial polls? as well.

As compared to the central elections, the provincial elections were more crucial. As against 30 Muslim seats some 492 were at stake, and, moreover, ministries were also to be formed in the provinces especially the Muslim majority ones on the basis of the electoral verdict. More important, the provincial legislatures were to elect the constituent assembly which would frame the future constitution for India. Hence, the provincial elections, besides ensuring power to the winning party, held the key to the long-term settlement.

But the provincial scene presented a jigsaw puzzle, especially in the Muslim majority areas which held ?the key to Pakistan?. These areas were characterized by the twin evils of factionalism and feuding. Since power could become available only in the majority provinces, almost everyone was jockeying for it. ?In some provinces they are quarrelling among themselves?, reported Lord Wavell, adding, ?if they waste their time in personal quarrels, they may suffer at the polls?. ?Local dissensions?, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the Secretary of State, felt may well conspire to deny the League ?a clear mandate?. And the ministerial setbacks for the League in all the four majority provinces during the previ?ous twenty months provided a pointer to what might well happen if the leaders continued to squabble and factionalize the Provincial Leagues.

In the months preceding the elec?tions, the position in the majority provinces, except for the Punjab, was also rather disquieting. In the Punjab, factions and feuds, covert for the most part, were, however, kept within critical limits, if only because of the new- found enthusiasm for the Pakistan ideal and the mounting pressure of a resurgent Punjab MSF. Bengal was divided between Khawaja Nazimuddin, for?mer premier, and the more dynamic Suhrawardy, the formidable aspirant to Bengal premiership. Fortunately, Nazimuddin?s altruistic decision to retire and leave ?the entire field? to Suhrawardy saved the Bengal League from a major catastrophe.

In contrast, Sind and the NWFP were unwitting victims to an unremit?ting interplay of feud and faction in its worst form. Sind was rent asunder by three factions - Sayed, Hidayatullah and Khuhro, each one working for himself and against the other, to grab the plum of premiership. ?The League ... is badly divided ? due to personal ambition, jealousy and spirit of revenge. The Muslim League is heading for disaster in Sind ...?, reported Hashim Gazdar. Hidayatullah, Khuhro and Mir Ghulamali Talpur, all accused Sayed of packing the League?s council and establishing a ?Sayed Raj?; this was impliedly attested to by Qazi Mohammad Isa, who was deputed by the Central League to enquire into Sind affairs. Sayed?s overweening ambition to grab power at all costs led him to desert the Muslim League after the nomination date when all his proteges were not accommodated in the League?s panel. Actually, he provided the Muslim League and the Muslim India with the greatest headache dur?ing the crucial 1945-46 elections.

The NWFP groaned under the running feud between Bakht Jamal Khan and Sardar Aurangzeb Khan, the erstwhile Premier. Jamal?s protege, Sadullah Khan, was in part responsible for bringing the Aurangzeb ministry down in March 1945. To make matters worse, there was also an undeclared feud between Qaiyum Khan, the convener of the Provincial League Selection Board, and Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Jinnah?s man in the Frontier.

Jinnah had always stood for the Provincial Leagues to be run by local leaders as best as they could, without undue interference from the centre. ?Now it is really for the Provincial leaders to manage things in their own provinces?, he told Maulana Akram Khan, President, Bengal PML, categorically, when he complained of mutual squabbling, infighting and factionalism in his own province. Thus Jinnah allowed the provincial Leagues to set up their own parliamentary boards according to the rules laid down in the AIML Constitution, select candidates by consensus as far as possible and in accordance with local requirements, keeping in view, however, the paramount interest of getting the vote in Pakistan?s favour. Only in case of appeals against the local board?s decision and in case of serious disputes was the Central Parliamentary Board to intervene. Understandably, and for strategic rea?sons as well, Jinnah consistently refused to be drawn into the mire of provincial politics, and stood steadfast by the Central Board?s decisions. Despite numerous appeals and entreaties, some even from his close associates, he characteristically refused to intervene, counselling them to approach the Central Board for redressal, and better still, try to patch up and ?pull together, ... I shall do all I can?, he assured Ispahani, for instance, ?but you people must stand solidly and completely united. At all cost stand by the League, whatever the provocations and circumstances.? He offered the same advice to Khuhro (when the complained against Sayed), Pir of Manki Sharif (NWFP) and others.

All through the hectic electioneering period, Jinnah, on the one hand, took time off to tour the majority provinces extensively, attend to composing or patching up major differences between feuding leaders as far as possible, carried on a heavy load of correspondence, managed the central League funds, acknowledging personally every contribution and attending to the provincial Leagues? and MSF?s appeals for funds. He thus kept himself abreast of what was happening in the provinces, providing guidance wherever needed. On the other, he tried consistently to inject idealism and a sense of duty among the feuding provincial elites, reminding them all the time that it was the party and the ideal, and not the personalities, that really mattered.

Clearly, Jinnah was desperate for a clear verdict on Pakistan. ?Support the Muslim League and let us have a thumping verdict in favour of Pakistan?.All other matters must stand over? ? was his constant refrain. Again: ?Establish complete unity, face elections with grim determination. Issue life-death. Every vote for League means rescue of hundred million Musalmans, Islam, Pakistan.? And, all said and done, his desperation had stemmed from the criticality of the upcoming elections for the Pakistan demand.

However, it was almost next to impossible to settle all the claims and counter claims, or inquire into charges and counter charges of both the ?aggrieved? and non-aggrieved appellants. Nor was it possible to accommodate all the aspirants, now almost a legion, on the League?s panel. Thus, despite impassioned appeals to shed personal ambitions and stand united, some of the disgruntled aspirants chose to stand as ?Independents?, fondly, albeit, as it turned out, vainly, hoping to romp home successfully on the basis of their personal following. Yet it gave Congress a chance to widen the thin end of the wedge, wherever possible. No wonder, it stepped in routinely to offer them every conceivable support, in an adroit attempt to divide the Muslim vote. And this to a point that Jinnah bitterly complained of ?their unscrupulous and unwarranted interference with the Muslim electorate with the might behind their organization, backed up by the false propaganda of the Press, nine-tenths of which is controlled by them, their unlimited financial resources and the exercise of the economic pressure, to say nothing of the threats, intimidations and declara?tions of civil war?.

There were other problems as well that Jinnah and the Muslim League had to contend with. In Bengal, Fazlul Haque, once discomfited in his overtures to rejoin the League, joined hands with the Congress, Jamiat and others to clobber together an electoral alliance against the League, and was funded by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, marwaris and the Hindu industrialists, besides Birla and the Congress. In Sind, the calculating Sayed exploited his vantage position to immobilize the local League completely, so that ?not a single leaflet? was issued nor ?a single public meeting? was held to promote the success of the League?s candidates, and Jinnah had to manage the elections with whatever was available in terms of local leadership, hoping to keep the residue factional bickerings within critical limits and rely on his own impassioned appeals to the Muslims? sense of patriotism and duty to the nation. ?Your votes ? are not for individuals but ... for Pakistan?, he told the voters in Sind, as in other provinces.

In the Frontier, what really handi?capped the League was the presence of a Congress ministry under Dr Khan Sahib in Peshawar. It actually report?edly did everything in its power to deflect the electorate in Congress favour ? everything from a liberal distribution of sugar, cloth, kerosene, grain and other amenities as well as licences for guns and pistols to the crude and gross tampering of elec?toral rolls and ballot boxes. The new electoral rolls (replacing the one prepared in 1942) featured a rise of 250% in the number of voters in some constituencies. Neither symbols were allocated to the candidates nor coloured boxes provided. Moreover, fixation of two days for voting at each booth led to gross irregularities.

In the Punjab the greatest problem was that the Unionists were in power and they were determined to get a verdict in their favour, whatever be the means. First, like Sayed in Sind, Khizr Hayat Khan, the Unionist Premier, as well tried to confuse the voters, asserting that he and other Unionist Muslim members were ?firm and uncompromising supporters of ? Pakistan?, and that, as a corollary, a vote for Muslim Unionists was a vote for Pakistan ? but the gimmick fortuitously failed to work, even with the masses. Second, Governor Godancy and the bureaucracy, considered more entrenched and more powerful than that in any other province, egged Khizr on to give a tough fight to the League at the hustings ? of course, with full official backing. ?The entire bureaucracy ? Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and the British ? was against us?, reminisced Mian Mumtaz Daultana in an interview with the present writer, years later. ?There have been?, reported Wavell to Whitehall, ?a lot of allegations against the Unionist Ministry?to the effect that they are abusing their position to gain advantage in the elections.? Some of these allegations concerned the fixation of election time table, denial of registration of potential voters, introduction of coloured boxes, and of allocating symbols to different parties, arranging official postings, and intimidation of voters and candidates.

Jinnah and the AIML office at Delhi received hundreds of complaints, and he complained that ?voters and?workers?are being coerced, threatened, intimidated and persecuted?, and that to a point that the conditions in the Punjab had become ?really terrible?. Hence he exhorted his followers to fight to the bitter end since no other alternative was open to them. The League?s campaign was also hamstrung by the acute shortage of vehicles and of petrol which, because of rationing, had to be obtained through official permit.

Jinnah who personally supervised the campaign was, however, not the man to get daunted by these handicaps. Undeterred, he counselled,

? if you can?t get conveyance, if you can?t get petrol, trudge to the polling stations, go to the booths walking; may be you have to walk five miles or ten; after all, it is not such a great sacrifice. Record your vote fearlessly and conscientiously in favour of the candidates whom you want to support.

Despite all these odds, the Muslim League did tremendously well at the hustings. In Bengal it contested all the 119 Muslim seats and the three reserved seats for commerce, university and labour, and won massively ? 115 (94.95%) seats, 95 per cent of the total Muslim urban vote and 84.6 per cent of rural vote. It lost only four seats to Haq?s KPP and two to Independents. The Congress lost all the six seats it had contested, the Jamiat all the twelve sets it had, and the KPP forty out of forty-four contested seats. The KPP secured 5.39, Jamiat 1.4, and the Congress 0.48 percent votes. And for a Muslim majority province, Bengal represented a record verdict.

In the NWFP, the League had put up candidates for all the thirty-six Muslim seats (three urban and 33 rural), the Congress for 27 (one urban and 26 rural), the Jamiat for four, the Ahrars for eight and the Khaksars for eleven seats. Besides, there were thirty-three independents in the field, thus making a total 119 candidates. The League also contested the two Zamindara seats. In the elections held between 26 January and 14 February, the Congress won thirty seats (including 19 Muslim seats), the League only seventeen (including two Zamindara seats) and the Jamiat two. Although the League secured only forty two percent of the seats, it polled 147,940 votes (41.65%) as against 136,201 votes (38.34%) polled by the Congress which secured fifty three per cent of the Muslim seats. Independents who secured 9.23 per cent votes made all the difference between success and defeat for the League?s candidates. ?Bad organization and internal faction feeling?, besides the alleged election irregularities, were put down as the primary causes of League?s discomfiture. ?But everyone, I think, has been surprised that they have succeeded in only 17 constituencies?, wrote Governor Cunningham. He also felt that ?it is possible even now that the League ideology is more popular with the tribes than that of the Congress?.

And this possibility became a ground reality in the July 1947 Referendum. In that Referendum, 289,244 votes were cast in Pakistan?s favour and 2,874 in India?s. The Frontier Congress?s boycott of the referendum did not materially affect the final choice, if only because the valid votes in Pakistan?s favour not only represented about fifty one per- cent of the total electorate (572,980), but also exceeded the total votes cast in the 1946 assembly elections (375,989). Governor Lokhart informed Mountbatton,

In nearly all Mohammaden constituencies the number of votes cast for Pakistan show a large increase over those cast for the League candidate, in the Election (1946), and in so far as one can deduce party preference from the Referendum results the League would now command 28 seats in Legislative assembly against 16 commanded by the Congress (including 12 Hindus and Sikh seats); 3 constituencies would be doubtful.

Thus the flawed election results of February 1946 came to be rectified by the Referendum, and the N.W.F.P. finally joined the Pakistan bandwagon in July 1947.

In Sind, Sayed?s strategic ?open rebellion? against the Central League after the expiry of the nomination date, late in December 1945, and vowing to fight the elections from the ?Provincial League? platform was no less than ?a stab? in the back?, to quote Liaquat Ali Khan. Sayed?s launching of a ?Progressive Muslim League? and his assertion that ?a vote for Sayed is a vote for Pakistan? confused the voters all the more. ?With the consolidation of our forces?, Patel felt, ?the question of defeating the League will be much easier?. R.K. Sidhwa, Patel?s confidente, on his part, had already worked out a detailed plan ?to bury Pakistan in Sind?, telling Patel. ?I am aiming at that?. Besides Sayed?s sixteen nominees and independents, fifteen candidates ran under the Jamiat?s and Muslim Board?s banner; eighteen of them received financial backing from the Congress, but all of them coordinated their forces against the common ?enemy?.

Despite these handicaps, the League captured 26 out of 34 seats, and one zamindara seat; four went to the Sayed group, three to Nationalist Muslims and one to an independent. (The last one, Sardar Nabi Baksh Bhutto, who had defeated Kazi Fazlullah, joined the League, raising its strength to 29, which made a post-election League ministry possible.) The League polled 60.46 per cent votes in the 33 contested constituencies, the Sayed group 17.08 per cent, and the rest was divided among a number of parties. Since the Sayed group had also ?professed? to stand by Pakistan, the vote for Pakistan may be reckoned as totalling 77.54 per cent. And if Sayed?s ?Progressive Muslim League? had not contested against the official League, the cumulative vote for Pakistan would have been obviously much greater than the sum-total of the votes for the two Leagues.

Some ten months later, Governor Francis Mudie finally ordered fresh elections on December 9, ? presumably in a desperate attempt to provide some stability to a province whose chronic instability had become a metaphor in the last decade of the Raj. In the ensuing tidal League wave, Sayed was swept away even as all other opposition candidates were, except for one independent, and Sind registered a ninety-seven per cent verdict in Pakistan?s favour.

In the key province of the Punjab, despite all the odds, the League was able to secure seventy five seats (including two women?s) as against ten by Unionists and two by Independents. The Ahrars, the Khaksars and the Congress lost every seat they had contested; most of them also forfeited their securities. The only Congress Muslim to be returned to the assembly was Maulana Daud Ghaznavi, the newly installed President of the Provincial Congress Committee, who stood for a labour (general) seat. The League?s score was 87.2 percent of the Muslim seats and 65.3 per cent of the total Muslim vote; the Unionists secured 27.26 percent votes while the rest 7.44 percent votes. In view of Congress?s dire prognostications ? Azad seemed ?certain? of ?the success of the Ahrars and the Unionists?; Nehru would give the League ?not more than 35 seats?; and Sachar ?in the neighborhood of 40 seats?, two or three to Ahrars, and another forty seats to the Unionists ?the League?s success may well be termed astounding. Patel, the ?lodestar? of the Congress, conceded, albeit grudgingly, ?The League has scored better than expected? all our efforts and resources? have been wasted and all hopes given were false and the conculations and expectations were wrong?. And because ?the elections? were fought on party lines and not on personal, tribal or caste consideration?, the results represented a clear verdict in Pakistan?s favour.

In the battle for Pakistan, Punjab was considered the ?key? province; hence the Punjab results sent a wave of joy throughout Muslim India. An enthralled Jinnah lauded the Punjab results, saying ?The Muslims played a magnificent part in conclusively proving that Punjab is the cornerstone of Pakistan. Ninety per cent fighting against all odds is a splendid achievement of which you, Muslim India and myself should be proud?, he wired the Nawab of Mamdot, the Punjab PML President.

Despite its thumping success, the League could not form a Ministry, if only because Muslims were given only forty-nine percent of the assembly seats under the Communal Award (1932).

In perspective, however, despite the temporary setback to assume power, the Punjab vote was the most critical one since to Patel, among others, ?the Punjab holds the key to the future of India ? an assessment which was also generally shared by British officials. Governor Dow (Sind) told Wavell, ?the key to the Pakistan problem was the Punjab?, and Governor Henry Twynam (C.P. and Berar) wrote to Wavell,

Bengal will presumably return a Muslim League majority? All, therefore, seems to depend on the Punjab and the North-West Frontier. If the League is successful in the Punjab, the position will undoubtedly be extremely difficult but, if not, a position may arise in which Jinnah can definitely be turned down in which case peace with the Congress is possible. If, on the other hand, Jinnah is successful in the Punjab, it has occurred to me? that his demand for two constituent assemblies might be conceded?

Hence, once Punjab had been firmly secured, the Pakistan issue could not be shelved any more.

More spectacular was the League?s success in the minority provinces. In Assam, the League won thirty one (91%) out of thirty four Muslim seats, the rest going to the Jamiat. In Bihar, the League gained thirty four (85%) out of forty seats, pro-Congress Momins five and Congress Muslims one. In the United Provinces, where the Congress patronized both the Sunni Board and its rival, the Shia Political Conference, in order to divide Muslim votes, the League secured fifty four (82%) out of sixty six seats, the Congress two out of the thirty seats it had contested, and Nationalist Muslims seven. Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, a former Congress minister, lost in all the three constituencies he had contested, and so his brother. In the Central Provinces, the League captured thirteen (93%) out of fourteen seats and the Momins one; all the three Congress candidates lost their securities. In Orissa, Bombay and Madras, the results were cent percent. In Orissa, the League won all the four seats, with its opponents forfeiting securities in two of the three contested seats. In Bombay, the League captured all the thirty seats, with seven uncontested, with its opponents forfeiting securities in nineteen; with the League polling 93.2 percent votes. The crowning achievement to League?s streak of success was finally provided by Madras. It elected unopposed four candidates to the Legislative Council, and thirteen to the Assembly. In the sixteen contested constituencies, the League polled 93.04 percent votes, with only one opponent claiming back his security money. Jinnah hailed the Madras results as a ?magnificent victory?, while Daulatana called them ?wonderful and historic?.

In aggregate terms the League secured 453 (i.e. 86.45%) out of 524 central and provincial seats, and polled some 4.70 million votes ? i.e., about 75 per cent of the total vote. This obviously meant that the League had finally acquired a social depth at the gross root level ? a far cry indeed from its 1937 standing, when it could barely obtain 24 percent of the Muslim seats and four percent of the popular vote. The Congress had put up ninety six candidates, won nineteen seats in the Frontier and four in the rest of India, and polled only 4.4 percent of the total Muslim vote. Of the total votes cast in all the (General, Muslim and Special) constituencies, the Congress secured 62 percent, the League 24 per cent, minor Muslim parties 2.5 per cent and the Unionists 2 per cent. Since the Muslims in British India comprised about 26.9 per cent of the total population, the League?s voting record may be termed brilliant. Indeed, ?the elections? represented ?a triumphant vindication of Jinnah?s claim to represent the Muslims?, to quote Richard Symonds. A long standing and oft reiterated claim which Jinnah had put forward, first tentatively, at a students? moot at Lucknow on August 12, 1936, called to launch the left-oriented All-India Students? Federation, and, later, more authoritatively, during his protracted parleys with Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress Rashtrapati, in 1938. ?They had?, asserted Jinnah, ?conclusively proved that the Muslim masses are with the Muslim League? Without them, neither I nor any body else could have achieved anything.?

If anything, Jinnah?s claim underscores the support of the Muslim masses as the critical variable in the League?s electoral success. But as indicated (albeit impliedly) earlier, Jinnah?s leadership at the moment was equally critical. He alone could manage the elections so superbly with a political machine much inferior to the Congress?s, with limited resources in terms of funds, publicity and propaganda networks, local organization and leadership. It was, again, his impassioned appeals to the Muslim sense of patriotism and duty to the nation that had enthused the Muslim masses and created an environment that in their passion for Pakistan, the masses had left the parent organization far behind, and in the electoral battle, they did not wait for it to galvanize them. Thus, in the ultimate analysis, it were the masses, and not the League?s political machine, that had wrested the verdict for Pakistan at the hustings.

And that verdict in itself was extremely consequential. For one thing, it settled once and for all the two key contentious issues: (i) whether or not the League represented the Muslims and (ii) whether or not the Muslims stood for Pakistan. The Congress directly and the Viceroy impliedly had questioned the League?s representative status at Simla, but after the elections none could challenge League?s status. Even Gandhi had to admit that

the Congress does not challenge and accepts that the Muslim League now is the authoritative representative of an overwhelming majority of the Muslims in India. And as such and in accordance with democratic principles they alone have today an unquestionable right to represent the Muslims of India.

For both the Congress and the League, the prime issue in the 1945-46 elections was Pakistan vs. Akhand Hindustan. Hence the elections represented the sort of referendum suggested by Gandhi to ascertain ?the declared and established will? of Muslims on the nationhood and separation issues. Once that ?will? was given in Pakistan?s favour, its emergence (in some form or another) could not be long resisted nor delayed. And it came within eighteen months. ? Sharif al-Mujahid

http://www.naseeb.com/journals/muslim-league-100-years-old-1945-1946-elections-135962
 

KapitaanAli

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Indian Union Muslim League is still alive and well and votes for India in every election.

Where's Pakistan Union Muslim League! :what:
 

PurpleStone

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Indian Union Muslim League is still alive and well and votes for India in every election.

Where's Pakistan Union Muslim League! :what:
Unions of Punjab voted for Muslim League but my question was why didn't Muslims of India vote for United India?

Seems like all of them were worried and believed that they would have no future under a Hindu majority?


https://www.dawn.com/news/1105473/the-election-that-created-pakistan

The election that created Pakistan
Nadeem F. ParachaUpdated May 11, 2014
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Even till the early and mid-1940s, the leadership of the All India Muslim League (AIML) wasn’t quite sure exactly what its status was among the sizeable Muslim minority of India.

In 1944, AIML’s leading man and strategist, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, while talking to reporters in Bombay (present-day Mumbai), was lamenting that even though his opponents in the Indian National Congress (INC) were doing much to undermine AIML’s influence among the region’s Muslims, more damage in this respect was being done by certain Muslim politicians and outfits.


Confessional religious parties like the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind (JUH), and radical right-wing outfits such as the Majlis-i-Ahrar and the Khaksar Movement were staunchly against the concept of ‘Muslim Nationalism’ being propagated by Jinnah and his party.

AIML’s Muslim Nationalism was derived from the thoughts of various Muslim intellectuals. Most of them had been inspired by the writings of 19th Century Muslim scholars such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Syed Ameer Ali.

Khan and Ali had pleaded to build a rational and modern Muslim middle-class in South Asia that would lead an intellectual and political movement to construct a distinct political and cultural identity for the Muslim minority of India.

But why were the AIML’s ideas in this regard being opposed by certain powerful Muslim groups?

JUH and radical groups like the Ahrar and the Khaksar believed that every Indian’s first goal should be independence from the British. They believed that Muslims of India were a significant minority (approximately 30per cent at the time) and (thus) would be in a position (after independence) to carve out a more powerful political, economic and cultural role for themselves in India.

They also claimed that AIML’s Muslim Nationalism was a construct based on the European idea of a nation-state and that Islam cannot be confined within the boundaries of nationalism.

AIML had performed poorly in most elections held in India’s Muslim-majority provinces. Bengal and Punjab contained the largest Muslim populations in undivided India. Though by the 1940s AIML had managed to make important inroads in Bengal, the party had been routed in Punjab in the elections held there in the 1930s.

In 1945 the British colonial government in India called for elections for the national and legislative assemblies. The election in the Punjab was to be held in February 1946.

The Congress’ aim was to win a majority in most provinces so it could press its claim to form a government of united (post-colonial) India. AIML’s goal was to win the polls in Muslim majority provinces so it could not only claim to be the largest Muslim party, but also assert its demand of carving out a separate Muslim nation-state from areas where the Muslims were in a majority.

The situation in the Punjab was tricky. Even though 57pc of Punjab’s population was Muslim, the AIML had badly lost the previous elections in the province.

Another defeat in the Punjab was guaranteed to deal a decisive blow to Jinnah and his party’s claims and demands.

The Congress understood this well and went all out to defeat the AIML in the Punjab.

The province was under the electoral dominance of the Unionists — a large outfit headed by Muslims belonging to the landed gentry and influential pirs (Muslim spiritual leaders). The party also had some Hindu and Sikh leaders.

In the last major election in the province (1937), the Unionists had won 95 seats (out of a total of 175). Congress had bagged 18 whereas the AIML had managed to win just one.

To guarantee another AIML thrashing in the Punjab, the Congress Party’s ace strategist, Sardar Patel, and the party’s leading Muslim leader, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, immediately went about constructing an airtight anti-AIML scenario.

The Congress, apart from contesting the election from its own platform (of Indian Nationalism), was also backing the Unionists in areas where the latter was expecting a tough fight from the AIML.

Apart from this, Patel dispatched a check of Rs50,000 (a hefty sum in those days) to Azad whose job it was to fund and co-ordinate anti-AIML Muslim groups such as the JUH, the Majlis-i-Ahrar and the Khaksar.

The Ahrar and the Khaksar enjoyed support among Punjab’s Muslim petty-bourgeoisies. These two parties (along with JUH), provided the Congress with fiery clerics who went about denouncing the AIML as being a party of ‘British agents,’ and ‘fake Muslims’.

The powerful Unionist Party on the other hand claimed that it alone was the true representative of Punjab’s Muslim majority.

Jinnah, who had till then been repulsed by populist political tactics, got together with Punjab’s AIML President, Khan of Mamdot, to chalk out a strategy to counter the ruckus being raised by the Congress with the help of the Unionists, the Ahrar, the Khaskar, the JUH and the Sikh nationalist outfit, the Akali dal.

Jinnah and Mamdot first brought in hundreds of members of AIML’s student-wing, the All India Muslim Students Federation (AIMSF), from various parts of India. Also brought in were members of the AIMSF’s women’s wing.

College and university students (both male and female) belonging to the AIMSF were dispatched across the Punjab in groups and asked to hold small rallies in the cities, villages and towns of the province.

They were to explain AIML’s manifesto as a fight against economic exploitation and a struggle to create a separate Muslim nation-state where there will be economic benefits for all and religious harmony.

To counter the fiery denouncements being aired by members of the Ahrar, the Khaksar and the JUH, the AIML managed to win the support of a group of JUH leaders who had disagreed with their party’s policy of siding with the Congress and the Unionists.

Led by Islamic scholar, Alama Shabir Ahmad Usmani, this batch of JUH renegades successfully began to counter the theological arguments (against a separate Muslim nation-state) being leveled by the anti-AIML clerics and ulema.

The anti-AIML clerics had accused the AIML of ‘misguiding the Muslims of India’ and working to keep the Muslims under the influence of the forces of exploitation. The pro-AIML clerics counter-attacked by accusing the Ahrar and other such outfits of being Congress agents who were working to keep the Muslims ‘under the thumb of India’s Hindu majority.’

AIML was also armed with a rather radical manifesto. Largely authored by one of the leading members of the AIML’s leftist lobby — Danial Latifi (a committed Socialist) — the manifesto promised sweeping land reforms, religious harmony and an end to economic exploitation.

Another (last minute) attainment that Jinnah and his party managed to achieve was the support of the influential pirs of the province. Punjab’s pirs had for long been associated with the Unionist Party, but just as the elections drew near, many of them were convinced by the AIML leadership to switch sides and become part of the AIML.

The voter turnout was high on the day of the polls. The Unionists were expected to win the bulk of the seats, followed by the Congress.

But the results shocked the Congress and the Unionists. The AIML managed to win 73 seats (out of 175). The Unionists could only bag 20. The Congress won 51 and the Sikh Akali dal 22.

The Ahrar and the Khaksars failed to win even a single seat. The AIML bagged the largest share of the total Muslim vote (65pc). Just 19pc of the Muslim votes went to Ahrar and the Khaksars.

Though the Congress, the Unionists and the Akali dal managed to form a wobbly and short-lived coalition government in the Punjab, AIML finally managed to augment itself as India’s largest Muslim party.

It also did well in two other Muslim majority provinces. It won 113 (out of 230) seats in the Bengal and 27 (out of 60) in Sindh.

The results greatly accelerated the party’s demand for a separate Muslim nation-state, and after winning the provincial election in another Muslim-majority region, the NWFP (in early/mid-1947), the party finally managed to carve out Pakistan from the rest of India (August 1947).
 

PurpleStone

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PurpleStone

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B'Coz The Congress And Right Wingers Practiced What You Could Call A Tyranny of The Majority
But Congress was not in power. India was under British rule then.

On top of that British were on good terms and gave preference to Muslim League as Congress was fighting the British for the Independence.

So how could Congress indulge in any tyranny on Muslims as you are claiming?

Is there any historical proof for your claim?

Why will Muslims vote to live under Hindus?
Why you think it to be under the Hindus and not with the Hindus?

Muslim League was disbanded in 1958.
But the elections took place in 1946.
 

Samlee

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But Congress was not in power. India was under British rule then.

On top of that British were on good terms and gave preference to Muslim League as Congress was fighting the British for the Independence.

So how could Congress indulge in any tyranny on Muslims as you are claiming?

Is there any historical proof for your claim?

I Am Talking About The Congress Ministries That Were Set Up In Late 1930s
 

AfrazulMandal

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Why you think it to be under the Hindus and not with the Hindus?
Equality with any religious group is tantamount to accepting that our Deen is as good as any other faith. Equality is simply not enough. We don't mind Hindus ruling if they follow islam and implement Shariah.

I Am Talking About The Congress Ministries That Were Set Up In Late 1930s
Pakistanis give Congress too much credit.
 

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