Chapter 32: EXTREME COMMUNALISTS
1937 the communalists were liberal i.e. though they wanted
safeguards for their religion they believed in a united
country. But after 1937 it all changed extreme communalism
which recognized that communities can’t live together had
started. This form was becoming more popular at the lower
classes of Hindus and Muslims. The extreme communalists
had started mass movements to recognize their demands.
They also targeted co-religionist in nationalist parties.
extreme communalism was due to the popularity of the
congress which gave it a majority in 1937 elections. The
landlord and Zamindari population in provinces felt that
the congress would protect the tenants and they would
face an existential crisis. Hence the Hindu zamindars
went towards the mahasabha and Muslim went to Muslim
leagues. Both the parties for attracting the zamindars
criticized the congress policies of tenant protection.
other reason for the growth of communalism was the support
given to it by colonial authorities. The British had
failed to stop the nationalists so far. All other
alternatives like right and left wings, linguistic and
cultural differences, provincial differences and even
landlords couldn’t prove too effective against the
reluctantly they backed the Muslim league even though they
hated its leader Jinnah. The WW-II also inflamed
communalism as Muslim leagues role became more important.
The British refused to accept congress's demands for
freedom saying it didn’t represent Muslims. The league was
treated as the sole spokesperson of the Muslims and given
veto power over demands. The Hindu and Sikh communalists
didn’t get any concessions from the British.
the 1937 elections Muslim league and mahasabha led
campaigns on communal lines but both fared poorly.
They realized that either they had to move
towards mass based programs or give up politics. The
very logic of communal politics leads to a progression
towards more and more communal outlook. The constant
demands and more and more concessions are needed to
remain relevant. Hence liberal communalism turns to
extreme form. The Muslim communalists took advantage of
the congress's limited contact with the Muslim masses
for its purpose.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Jinnah was initially secular and nationalist. He was
influenced by Dadabhai Nauroji and acted as his secretary.
He was opposed to Muslim league when it was formed. He
wanted joint electorates and advocated for them. He was
called as the Ambassador of Hindu Muslim unity by Sarojini
Naidu. He later became progressively communal and joined
the league. He moved towards extreme communalism to save
himself from oblivion when the congress won elections in
1937. He first put forth the two nation theory in 1940 at
Lahore session of the league.
Gowalkar and the RSS
same trajectory was followed by Hindu mahasabha and they
too descended into extreme form of communalism after 1937. Gowalkar who was
the head of the RSS also blamed congress for turning
Hindus as servants of Muslims in India. He said that India
couldn’t have Hindu Muslim unity and Hindus had to be
dominant. This wasn’t condemned by congress leaders some
of whom were succumbing to communalist pressure. Muslim
riots and hate mongering by Jinnah and other leaders led
to similar response from Hindu communalists.
fault for communalisms rise had to be up to some extent
of congress leaders too. They had dealt with communal
leaders treating them as representatives of their
communities. When these leaders went on to become
extreme communalist the congress couldn’t stop them
effectively. Attempts made by the left and congress
to wean the liberals in the communalists and pit them
against the extreme elements had failed.
Aftermath of Communalism
as it turned out ideologies have future repercussions. The
damage of Jinnah’s communal politics is faced even today
by Pakistani Muslims. On the other hand the secular
ideology of congress has created harmonious conditions in
The 'Pakistan Resolution' was passed at the Lahore
session of the Muslim League calling for "grouping of all geographically
contiguous Muslim majority areas (mainly north-western and eastern
India) into independent states in which the constituent units shall be
autonomous and sovereign.