India became one nation thanks to the rule of the British, who in1757 after winning the famous Battle of Plassey, became the omnipotent power in the subcontinent. They united India as never before and India was the Jewel in the Crown. The Raj stretched from the Khyber Pass to the plains of Assam and deep down to the states of Travancore and Tamilnadu. This was the biggest Empire in Indian history, much bigger than anything that Aurangzeb or Raja Ashok had ever dreamt.
There is no doubt and it has been proved historically that India consisted of nearly 500 small kingdoms. All of them were united and became part of what is called the British Empire. The British left India united but when the time came for them to go away the Indians themselves were not ready to kiss each other and this animosity gave the English a chance to divide the country.
With Independence round the corner after the defeat of Hitler, the two major parties the Congress and the Muslim League jostled for power. The Muslim League was headed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Congress party headed by self-styled “Mahatma” Mohandas Gandhi. He was assisted by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. The last named was a political lightweight and he was supposed to oppose Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Unfortunately his following consisted of only a few Muslims as almost 90% Muslims were with Jinnah.
Farook opens Hornet’s nest
Recently in a program on TV, Farooq Abdullah, the Ex-Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir clearly stated that partition would not have taken place, but it took place because of the attitude of Nehru and Patel. The Muslim League in its Lahore session of 1940 had in a resolution called for the state of Pakistan.
Research papers and a witness to the era Leonard Mosley has stated that Muhammad Ali had only made the demand for Pakistan as a bargaining chip and he wanted to be the Prime Minister of India. Patel and Nehru along with Azad were opposed to Jinnah as prime minister. At this stage, had the Congress party accepted Jinnah as Prime minister, the partition may not have taken place. Nehru, however, wanted to be the Prime Minister of India and the others also wanted some crumbs of power.
Maulana Azad, in particular, would have been reduced to an outsider as Jinnah had nothing to do with him.
The last days of the Raj
Leonard Mosley in his book “the last days of the Raj” has documented all that happened in the corridors of power. Jinnah had the support of the Muslim League, all Dalits and Scheduled Castes and the Princes. These were members of the Prince’s chamber which were a part of parliament. He had a majority and Nehru could not accept this. He and Patel along with Azad met Gandhi and convinced him to accept the demand for Pakistan. Nehru had selfish reasons for this as he wanted Jinnah out of the way and to his mind creating Pakistan was the only way to send Jinnah out of contention as Prime minister of India. These comments were also made by the BJP leader Jaswant Singh in his book “Jinnah, India, and Partition”
Rest is all history as the attitude of Jinnah hardened and Nehru had his way and became PM of India and Gandhi accepted Pakistan. It was his biggest defeat.