All India Muslim League
The partition of Bengal gave rise to communal division. The Muslim League was formed on 30 December 1906 under the leadership of Nawab Aga Khan of Dhaka and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk to protect the rights of Indian Muslims. Initially, it received a lot of support from the British, but when it adopted the idea of self-government, the support from the British ended.
Factors that created the Muslim League:
- British plan: British wanted to divide Indians into communal lines and that is why they included divisive tendencies in Indian politics, the proof of this was to arrange separate electorates and play the game of caste politics between Brahmins and non-Brahmins.
- Lack of education: Muslims were untouched by western and technical education.
- The decline of Muslim Sovereignty: The Revolution of 1857 forced the British to think that Muslims could be a threat to their colonial policies as they had laid the foundation of their rule by removing the Mughal power.
- Expression of religious sentiments: Most historians and ultra-nationalists glorified only one aspect of Indian composite culture. They praised Shivaji, Rana Pratap, etc. but remained silent about Akbar, Sher Shah Suri, Alauddin Khilji, Tipu Sultan, etc.
- Economic backwardness of India: Unemployment had taken a severe form in the absence of industrialization and the attitude of the British towards domestic industries was pathetic.
Objectives of the formation of the league:
- To encourage allegiance to the British Government among Indian Muslims
- To protect the political and other rights of Indian Muslims and to present their needs and expectations to the government
- To reduce resentment among Muslims against other communities
Later Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the ‘Muslim League’ led the movement demanding the division of British India into Hindu and Muslim nations, and after the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the League became the main political party of Pakistan. The same year its name was changed to the ‘All Pakistan Muslim League’, but as a modern political party in Pakistan, the League did not function as effectively as it functioned as a people-based pressure group in British India, and this In this way, gradually its popularity and the capacity of the organization went down.
The British officers contributed to promoting the communal element in India. The rise of Hindu nationalism created fear among the Muslims. The role of Sir Syed Ahmed in improving the social, economic, and political life of the Muslims was commendable. In the 20th century, there was a constant effort to settle the linguistic disputes, elect the council representatives, and get the Muslims appointed to the government services. Seeing the anti-government stance among the Hindus, the British authorities had adopted the policy of giving protection to the Muslims, leaving behind the old policy of repression. The partition of Bengal had given direct impetus to Muslim communalism. Lord Curzon visited East Bengal several times and made it clear that he would create East Bengal only as a Muslim-majority area where Muslims would get ample opportunity to develop.
Sir Aga Khan:
Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk prepared an application by getting the signatures of 4000 Muslims and made a delegation of 35 prominent Muslims from different regions. Sir Aga Khan led the Muslim delegation. On October 1, 1906, the Muslim delegation met the Viceroy at Shimla Deputation. The delegation presented the demand for communal representation.
The following demands were made in the application:
- Muslims should get a proper proportion of seats in government services.
- There should be an end to the competitive element in jobs.
- Muslims should also get the post of judge in every High Court and Chief Court.
- A separate facility should be given to send representatives to both the communities in the municipalities.
- A separate electorate should be created for the Legislative Council consisting of Muslim landlords, lawyers, traders, members of district councils and municipalities, and Muslim graduates with five years’ experience.
- While appointing Indians to the Viceroy’s Council, the interests of Muslims should be taken care of.
- Establishment of Muslim University.
Birth of the Muslim League:
The credit for the establishment of the Muslim League can be given to the British. The Muslim League was established only to create an obstacle in the path of the national movement. This organization was of sycophants. Viceroy Lord Minto and India Minister Marley also had the support in uplifting the Muslims. In the first session, there is no clear outline regarding the purpose of the Muslim League. The second session of the Muslim League was held in Karachi in 1907, in which a constitution was made for the League.
The objectives of the Muslim League in the Constitution of the Muslim League were as follows-
- To create a sense of loyalty among the Indian Muslims towards the British Government and to remove the official misconceptions towards the Muslims regarding any scheme.
- To protect the political and other rights of Indian Muslims and to put their needs and high aspirations in front of the government in the medium of language.
- To create, as far as possible, a friendly feeling among the Muslims and other sects of India, without harming the above objectives as much as possible.
At the Karachi conference, the permanent president of the Muslim League was made Aga Khan, who was the head of the Khoja sect. In 1908, the working president of the Muslim League was made Sir Ali Imam, who was from Bihar. Sir Ali Imam also termed allegiance to the British rule as allegiance to India and he believed that the improvement of the present administrative system is possible only if the British rule remains.
The Muslim League came to be considered the representative body of the Muslims. The principle of communal representation was severely criticized by only a few Muslims. But their voice was suppressed. The Muslims gradually started living separately from Congress. The Muslim League also could not take the form of a representative body. On political questions, the government used to advise the representatives of the Muslim League only.
On the one hand, the Muslim delegation was demanding representation on communal lines, and on the other hand, the extremists of the Congress were demanding complete independence. The growing popularity of extremists in India increased the government’s concern. Lord Marley was not in favour of communal representation at first, but on the insistence of Minto, the matter of communal representation was accepted. On that basis, the Morley-Minto Reform of 1909 AD was implemented.
Change in Attitude of Muslim League:
Till 1911, the Muslim League continued with the communal policy, but gradually the attitude of the League changed and the Muslim League moved away from the British rule and came closer to the Congress. The adoption of a policy hostile towards Turkey by the Government of England and the annulment of the partition of Bengal became the immediate reasons for the change in the attitude of the League.
This resulted in an agreement between Congress and the League in 1916. Under this agreement, the existence of the Muslim League as the representative body of the Muslims, communal representation, and the gravity of representation for the Muslims was accepted by Congress. But this Hindu-Muslim-unity proved to be momentary.
The Simon Commission and the Split in the League:
The British Government appointed Simon Commission in 1927 for the purpose of studying the constitutional problem of India and for constitutional reforms. The Indians decided to boycott this commission, as no Indian was placed in it. There was a split in the league on the question of opposition to the Simon Commission. Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his supporters decided to oppose the commission, but on the other hand, Muhammad Shafi decided to cooperate with the Simon Commission.
Nehru Report and Muslim League :
At the time of the appointment of the Simon Commission, the Minister of India, Burkinhead, challenged that Indians could not present any unanimous plan on their part regarding constitutional reforms. To answer this challenge, an all-party conference was organized in Delhi in February 1928 with the efforts of Congress. Under the chairmanship of Pt. Motilal Nehru, a committee was constituted to plan the constitution in India. At the time of preparation of the report of this committee, the representation of Muslims was accepted through a joint election system. But this report was widely debated, so Muhammad Ali Jinnah presented the following three suggestions:
- Muslims should be given one-third representation in the Central Legislature.
- In Punjab and Bengal, Muslims should be given representation on the basis of population for 10 years.
- Residuary powers should be given to the Provincial Legislature, not to the Centre.
When the all-party conference rejected Jinnah’s suggestions, he joined the Shafi faction of the Muslim League and adopted the path of purely communal politics.
Elections under the Act of 1935 and Congress-League conflict:
In the elections held for the legislatures in 1937 under the Government of India Act of 1935, the League did not get much success. Congress cabinets were formed in 8 out of 11 provinces and mixed cabinets were formed in the remaining three provinces. The League could not form its cabinet in a single province. So it was natural for the league to be disappointed. In Uttar Pradesh, where the League and the Congress contested elections together, the Muslim League demanded the formation of a joint cabinet from the Congress. But the Congress put the following conditions for the inclusion of the League in the cabinet:
- The League shall cease to function as a separate faction.
- The members of the League in the legislature of Uttar Pradesh should be considered members of the Congress and accept the leadership of the Congress.
- The Parliamentary Board of the League of Uttar Pradesh should be abolished.
The Muslim League rejected the above conditions of the Congress. The above conditions of the Congress almost put an end to Hindu-Muslim unity. In fact, this attitude of Congress became the cause of permanent bitterness in Hindu-Muslim relations. In the Second World War of 1939, when the British government pushed India without consulting the Congress and the Congress resigned in protest with the cabinet, the League was very happy. On 22 December 1939, the Muslim League also celebrated ‘Mukti Diwas‘ to show its happiness.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the ‘Muslim League’ led the movement demanding the division of British India into Hindu and Muslim nations, and after the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the League became the main political party of Pakistan. In the same year, its name was changed to ‘All Pakistan Muslim League’.
However, the League as a modern political party in Pakistan could not function as effectively as it functioned as a mass-based pressure group in British India, and thus gradually its popularity and organizational ability declined. In the elections of 1954 AD, the ‘Muslim League’ lost power in East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) and soon after that the party also lost power in ‘West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan)’. The party split into factions in the late 1960s and had completely disappeared by the 1970s.