SS5 Anita Inder Singh 2

1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh
Quotes included:
  • The Elections of 1945-46
Anita Inder Singh quoted from The Origins of the Partition of India 1936-1947, The Success of the Muslim League, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1987.

Anita Inder Singh writes in considerable detail about the elections of 1945-46; particularly those in Punjab which were fought principally between the Muslim League and the Unionists.  Muslim League based its election campaign on Pakistan and Islam and touted voting for the League as a matter of voters' religious faith. None of its competitors, whether the Unionists,  Congress or other parties in Punjab and other provinces, with the exception of NWFP, were able to counter this propaganda effectively and Muslim League won 76% of the total Muslim vote in British India,  in huge contrast to the 4.8% which it had won in 1937.

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The Elections of 1945-46

Anita Inder Singh writes:

The elections in Britain in July 1945 brought the Labour party into power. Congress circles expected quick action from the new government, but the Labour's desire to settle the Indian problem did not necessarily mean that they were in any hurry to end the empire. It did, however, accept the recommendation of a Governor's Conference held in Delhi on 1-2 August that elections to the provincial and central legislatures should be held in the coming winter: the Governors agreed unanimously that an official government could not solve post-war problems.

On 21 August Wavell announced that the elections would take place. What gave the elections immense significance was Attlee's statement in Parliament on 11 September; that the 'broad definition of British policy contained in the Declaration of 1942. . . stands in all its fullness and purpose'. Wavell would undertake discussions with new representatives in the provincial legislatures to ascertain whether it was acceptable or whether some alternative or modified scheme would be preferable. Their election would be followed by positive steps to set up a constituent assembly which would frame a new constitution. Obviously, the imminence of the British departure was clear to all parties and sections of public opinion, though the British government had not fixed a date for it, or even declared it to be an immediate aim of policy.

If the Cripps offer stood as the basis of British policy, it meant that the right of provinces to opt out of an Indian Union stood with it. For Jinnah, it was necessary, if he had any hope of achieving a sovereign Pakistan, to get a majority in the legislatures in the Muslim majority provinces. Wavell knew that Jinnah attached 'more importance to the number of seats the League can win both in the Central Assembly and in the Provincial Assemblies than to the ability of the League to form Ministries in the Muslim majority provinces.' The League must also win the support of the Muslim masses, especially in the Punjab and Bengal, where a plebiscite might eventually be necessary to decide the case for Pakistan. Thus, the 'immediate and paramount issues' before Jinnah were Pakistan and to make good the League's claim to represent the Muslims of India.

Jinnah's task was not easy. The League organization in most places was poor; the leaders were mostly men of some social standing and did not bother themselves with mass contacts and local committees. Mamdot, for example, had not allowed mass contact committees on his estate. In the NWFP, the League was divided and lacked funds. Aurangzeb stood discredited because of the corrupt methods he had used to retain himself in power. In Sind, the provincial League was riven by factions. In Bengal, the tussle between Nazimuddin and Suhrawardy culminated in the former not being given the League ticket for the elections.

Nevertheless, Jinnah appears to have been able to assert his authority over the provincial Leagues. The Central Parliamentary Board of the League had the final say in the selection of candidates for the provincial and central legislatures. In Sind, G.M. Syed's group were not given any tickets, which stirred them to put up their own candidates against Jinnah's in every constituency. [Statesman 3, 5 and 9 January 1946 and 1 February 1946. That the majority of Syed's candidates were defeated was a personal triumph for Jinnah.] Jinnah got his way in Punjab as well. The provincial League was divided; and most provincial Leaguers did not want Firoz Khan Noon, who had resigned from the Viceroy's executive in October to contest the elections in the Punjab, to stand as the League's candidate for Rawalpindi. They regarded him as an outsider and were afraid that he would take the credit for the League's success in the Punjab. That he was nevertheless allowed to contest from Rawalpindi at Jinnah's bidding points to the increasing authority Jinnah had come to exercise over the provincial League since the break with Khizar in June 1944.

That the AIML was able for the first time to have the final say in the selection of candidates suggests that it was expanding its own organization instead of relying entirely on provincial Muslim Leagues or parties; and that it also had its own provincial machinery. In the Punjab, for example, the League's Committee of Action had started propaganda to popularize the party even before Khizar's expulsion from it. Permanent paid workers were employed to carry out propaganda in the rural area, and a centre was set up in Lahore to train volunteers and to employ members of the Punjab Muslim Students Federation during their vacations. The Committee of Action moved its office to Lahore in May 1944 and Liaqat Ali Khan, then General Secretary of the League, supervised the organization of propaganda, which included preaching in mosques. The stake the AIML had in the province is illustrated by the fact that it donated half the money for the party's activities in the Punjab; the rest was raised by the provincial League. It was when Jinnah had his own machinery in the provinces, that "Pakistan" was popularized. It could be used to brand provincial Muslim politicians who were lukewarm or opposed to it as traitors to Islam, and it could suggest that the League was the only party offering a guarantee of political security and opportunity at the all-India level; where decisions on the political future of India would be taken.

In the Punjab, the brunt of the League's attack was directed against the Unionists. The party had ruled the province since 1920, and had successfully countered the influence of both the Congress and the Muslim League. It was not easy for the League to fight through the maze of power and influence that the Unionists had built up over the last twenty odd years. Writing in Dawn on 2 September, a League sympathizer observed that panchayat officers in most cases were nominees or relatives of Unionist MLAs. The Unionists represented the jagirdars, honorary magistrates and government grantees. Therefore, the bureaucracy and aristocracy were dependent on each other, and their influence over the peasants had been demonstrated in the elections of 1937. The success of the League would not come

'by working in the top strata of the Punjab Muslims alone . . . the League should work from the bottom upwards. The villager must be contracted(sic) by mass propaganda. . . the Congress was successful in the U.P. not because it won over the landlords but . . . because it made the peasantry class conscious.'

It was in this tactic that the cry of Pakistan could be made most effective. The Punjab League's election manifesto was believed to have been drawn up by G. Adhikari, a Communist leader, and touched up by Jinnah.[FR for Punjab for second half of November 1944, HP file no. 18/11/44 and Civil and Military Gazette, 8 November 1944]. In December 1944, Muslim Leaguers in the province were being told to associate with Communists to draw on their supporters.[FR for Punjab for first half of December 1944, HP file no. 18/12/44]. Since 1944, the Communists themselves had decided to infiltrate the Congress, League and the Akalis and were working among the Muslim masses with "Pakistan" as their slogan, which may be taken as an indication of its popular appeal. The Communist contribution to the League's victory in the elections cannot yet be ascertained from the material available. Not that their part in drawing up the League's manifesto implies any significant Communist or radical influence within the League. Landlords were the largest single group within the provincial and all India Leagues, though a struggle between them and more radical elements may have been taking place in the party. But if the manifesto was drawn up by them with Jinnah's knowledge, it shows the lengths to which he was prepared to go to win the majority of Muslim votes in the Punjab and to out the Unionists.

The Unionists-and their British supporters-were attacked on any pretext which presented itself. The Unionist decision not to contest any seat for the Central Assembly gave rise to the League's argument that if the central elections were beyond their scope of work, their demand for a seat in the Viceroy's executive was also not within their sphere of action. Dawn editorialized about

'the disreputable caucus known as the Unionist Ministry of the Punjab. That reactionary junta who has long fattened on the ignorance of the Punjab masses and traded on the latter's dread of the bureaucracy. . . Most shamefully servile of all Indian Ministries, the Khizar Cabinet had learned to depend upon the support of permanent officials through whom it bestowed patronage for its own nefarious political and personal ends.'

Wavell's favourable reference to the Unionists even induced Jinnah to proclaim : 'When we fight for Pakistan we are fighting against the British and not against the Hindus.' Muslim League alleged official interference in favour of the Unionists and the provincial League passed a resolution demanding the dismissal of the ministry and the 'liquidation' of bureaucratic machinery. Glancy declined a demand by the provincial League to issue a communiqué assuring voters that the provincial election would be entirely free from official interference. This only intensified attacks on the Unionists and the British by the Muslim League.

Evidence of official interference and pressure comes from both League and British sources. Campaigning in Mamdot's constituency, a League worker asked Jinnah for one lakh rupees from the League's central fund as official pressure was 'too much'. The British Deputy Commissioner in Attock wrote to his parents that Khizar was sympathetic to his application for leave.

'Actually, certain interested parties-which I think includes the premier-want me to get out of Attock as I am not prepared to swing the Elections for the Unionist Party(which is the party in power).'

Again, the Deputy Commissioner of Lyallpur reported that 'nearly 80 per cent' of the subordinate Muslim staff, both revenue and District Board had active League sympathies and a large number of them had been used as instruments by the League for submitting false and forged applications of Muslim League voters. Official interference inspite of Government instructions regarding neutrality in the matter 'is largely on the side of the League rather than the Unionist Party.' As it turned out, the League achieved its greatest victories in constituencies where it had made the strongest allegations of official interference. Earlier, Glancy expressed the view that the Unionists suffered 'at least as much' as any other party from the activities of officials who were not impartial.

The defection of 30 Muslim Unionists to the League since 1944 made the League's task easier, but it did not imply a walkover for the League in the provincial elections. The ex-Unionists included Daultana, Mamdot, and Ghazanfar Ali, all big landlords. At the beginning of October 1945, Major Mumtaz Tiwana, the biggest Tiwana landowner and one of the pillars of the Tiwana tribe, joined the League. He was followed by Firoz Khan Noon, who resigned from the Viceroy's Council to work for the League and to counter the influence of Khizar, who was his cousin. Families were divided-would Muslims vote for Khizar or Mumtaz? And who would win when two candidates of great social and religious influence were pitted against each other-for example, Mustafa Shah Jilani and his Unionist opponent, Makhdum Murid Husain Qureshi? The Qureshis claimed descent from the Muslim saint Bahauddin, the hereditary guardian of the shrines of Bahauddin, who was said to have descended lineally from Hasham, the grandfather of the Prophet. One of his brothers was a Sajjad[Sajjda] Nashin; Murid Husain himself was President of the Zamindara League. The Jilanis came from Jilan in Persia, had enjoyed a grant of Rs. 12,5000 from the Mughals, and were regarded as one of the most influential families in Multan. Mamdot was opposed by Mohammed Ghulam Sarwar, who belonged to an important landowning family of Ferozepur district, and was also a pir. The influence of Daultana in Multan was offset by Major Ashiq Husain, regarded by his followers as a hereditary saint.

With many men of influence pitted as candidates against each other, social influence could not have been the decisive factor in the League's win in the Punjab in 1946. It may have counted where a candidate of influence was set up against one with less influence or a political unknown. But it must also be remembered that the Punjab was not a province of many big landlords-most of the landed classes in the province comprised of small peasant proprietors. It was to them the League had addressed its appeal since November 1944. But it was not before November 1945 that the provincial League set up branches in tehsils. The League's entry into the villages, then, occurred at a very late stage; only three months before the polling for the provincial elections took place in the Punjab.

Even so, the organization of the League was very much better than that of the Unionists. The calm in the Unionist headquarters in Lahore was explained by the secretary of the Unionist Party thus:

'We are a rural party. . . . We do not believe in public meetings. . . . Our men go to villages and talk to local notables who wield influence over voters. They explain to them the work we have done and the benefits our legislation has conferred on peasants. Villagers, we know, will follow them.'

His remarks accounted for the difference in the propaganda technique of the two parties. The League held forty to fifty meetings a day all over the province. The Unionist Party's average was 'not even one a day'. Almost a statement a day was issued from the League office in Lahore, criticizing the government or explaining their stand on one thing to another. Ghazanfar Ali used to preside over a daily round table conference with a European cartoonist and a number of journalists working for the League.

It was in the countryside that the issue was to be decided, for only 12 of the 85 Muslim seats were allotted to the urban areas. The game was tough; at the beginning of February 1946, the League and the Unionists were reportedly running neck and neck in the villages. In some constituencies a voter was alleged to be richer by almost half a year's income if he pledged his vote. It was estimated that over 15 crores had changed hands during the elections, which were certainly not a poor man's show. In some constituencies they cost 7 to 10 lakhs of rupees. There was cases of whole villages pledging themselves to the highest bidder.[Civil and Military Gazette, 8 February 1946]. Paper, petrol and transport played an exceptionally important part in the Punjab elections, and prices of buses soared. Most of the 100 trucks ordered by the League in December 1945 were used in the Punjab to cart their potential voters from distant villages to polling booths. The Statesman commented that the success or failure of a candidate could depend on the ability to provide transport. 'This is particularly true of rural areas where promise of a joyride is all the price one need pay for a voter.'

Students, politicians, and ulema carried out religious propaganda for the League. Politicians would often preach in mosques after the Friday prayers. Students had earlier campaigned against Unionists who had cooperated with the National Defence Council in 1941. Aligarh Muslim University started a special election training camp for students in August 1945, and more than one thousand students worked for the League in the Punjab and Sind alone. Student leaders were in constant touch with Jinnah. Their youthful idealism may have made them more reliable than some party politicians as propagandists for the League. Ali Ahmad Faziel, a League worker writing in Dawn, was especially keen that college students be trained as party workers in different areas. The League would provide at least one trained worker for every 1000 voters; therefore at least 800 chief workers would have to be trained, and every constituency was to have 'at least' 12 such workers. A minimum of six of these workers should belong to the constituency in which they would campaign for the League, and in addition an equal number of outside workers. The headquarters of the constituency would act as the link between the provincial committees and individual field workers. They would be assisted in everyday affairs by the League's National Guard. Muslim League newspapers put students in the 'vanguard' of the League's election campaign in the Punjab. Daultana declared that in many districts in Multan division, student workers had been able to turn the tide in favour of the League.

Now that the League was expanding its organization into the countryside, it was able to exploit the religious appeal of Pakistan effectively, and its propaganda was based on the identification of Pakistan with Islam. For example, Firoz Khan Noon openly preached that a vote cast for the League was a vote in favour of the Prophet.[Glancy to Wavell, 27 December 1945, L/P&J/5/248]. Omar Ali Siddiqi, leader of the Aligarh Election Delegation to the Punjab declared that 'the battle of the Karbala is going to be fought again in this land of the five rivers.' A poster issued in Urdu over the signature of Raja Khair Mehdi Khan, the League candidate in Jhelum district, asked Muslims to choose between 'Din' and 'Dunya'; in the 'battle of righteousness and falsehood.'

                     Din                                                                                  Dunya
On one side is your belief in                                On the other side you are
the Almighty and your con-                                offered squares and jagirs
Righteousness and faithful-                                 The other side has to offer
nes are on one side                                                   Lambardaris and Zaildaris
One side is the rightful                                           On the other side is Sufedposhi
One side has Pakistan for                                      The other has Kufristan
you                                                                                  (reign of infidels)
On the one side is the prob-                                  As opposed to this there is
lem of saving Muslims from                                 only consideration of per-
slavery of Hindus                                                     sonal prestige of one man
On one side you have to                                        On the other is Baldev
bring together all those who                                Singh and Khizar Hyat
recite the Kalima(the basis
of Islam)
On the one side is the con-                                    On the other side is the
sideration of the unity and                                    Danda(big stick) of
brotherhood of all Muslims                                  bureaucracy and terror of
One the one side are the lov-                                On the other are the admir-
ers of Muslim League and                                      ers of Congress and Union-
Pakistan                                                                         ists
On the one side is the hon-                                    On the other is the Gover-
our of the Green Banner                                        ment of Khizar Ministry

...for the sake of your religion, you have now to decide in the light of your strength of faith, to vote for ..'[Translation enclosed in Glancy to Wavell, 28 February 1946, L/P&J/5/249, italics of non-English words by author]

Ulema from UP, Punjab, Bengal and Sind and local pirs threatened Muslims with excommunication which included a refusal to allow their dead to be buried in Muslim graveyards and a threat to debar them from joining in mass Muslim prayers, if they did not vote for the League. Those who opposed the League were denounced as infidels, and copies of the Holy Quran were carried around 'as an emblem peculiar to the Muslim league.'

The religious appeal of Pakistan was admitted by Khizar when he declared that the Unionists were for Pakistan; that Muslims would be voting for Pakistan whether they voted for a Muslim League candidate or a Muslim Unionist. The banner flown on the election camps of the Unionists and League were an identical green, bearing the Muslim legend of the Crescent. Khizar was on the defensive and lacked conviction in adding that intercommunal cooperation was necessary in Punjab. The Unionists argued that the crucial electoral issue for voters was not Pakistan, to which the Unionists were already committed; the choice was

'between chaos, disorder and communal bitterness on the one side, which is the only prospect held out by the Muslim League group, and a stable and efficient administration offered by the Unionists in the interests of the masses to which the majority of the Muslims of the province belong.'

The election manifesto of the Unionist Party stressed the economic achievements of the ministry including the reduction of the agriculturist debt by two crores of rupees. Provincial autonomy, complete independence, free and compulsory primary education for the poor, a reduction in military expenditure were the party's aims. But the economic achievements of the Unionists seem to have had little influence on the Punjabi Muslim voter in 1946.

That Khizar's Pakistan, implying intercommunal cooperation, was rejected so decisively by the Muslim voter points to the success of the communal propaganda of the League and to the appeal of a communal Pakistan for Muslims. But though the cry for Pakistan had now become the most successful means of politicizing the Muslim masses, it is by no means clear what they understood by it. Statements by the Punjab Leaguers based precisely on Jinnah's definition of Pakistan as a sovereign state[See, for example, Jinnah's reply to Patel in Statesman, 19 November 1945] are hard to find, as are statements opposed to it or even a discussion on Pakistan as a part of a federation. To most Leaguers in 1945-6, Pakistan appears to have stood for some sort of general salvation from Hindu domination and symbolized and[sic] Islamic revival in India.

What counted most in the League's victory in the Punjab in 1945-6? The great effort it made; the fact that for the first time the League's organization had reached down to contact the Muslim voter, partly accounted for its win. The appeal was essentially religious and attempted to convince Muslims of the benefits of Pakistan. Propagandists were directed when they visited a village to: 'Find out its social problems and difficulties to tell them[the villagers]that the main cause of their problems was the Unionists[and] give them the solution-Pakistan'. Soldiers were told that the Unionists had not done anything for them after the war. For the students who campaigned for the League, Pakistan held out the promise of the resurgence of Islam-'our aim is essentially to reorient Islam in the modern world, purge our ranks of the reactionary Muslim Church and to free ourselves from economic and political bondage'.[Translation of pamphlet issued by the election board of the Punjab Muslim Students Federation, quoted by Talbot, 'The 1946 Punjab Elections'. Modern Asian Studies, 14,1, 1980, p. 75]. These seemed a far cry from the assurance given by Jinnah to the Pir of Manki Sharif in November 1945 that Pakistan would be based on the laws of the Quran in which shariat would be established,[Sayeed, Pakistan:The formative Phase, p. 208] but it showed that Pakistan could mean, as it was intended to mean, all things to all men. S.E.Abbott, then Secretary to Khizar, attributed the League's victory to the Muslim belief in the inevitability of Pakistan. The League had presented the elections as a plebiscite for Pakistan. The claim had not been contradicted by the British, who would actually transfer or confer power. To that extent, their silence on the subject also contributed to the League's victory.

In Bengal, the League's influence in urban areas had been rising since its coalition with Huq in 1937. After provincial Leaguers fell out with Huq in 1941, they had organized demonstrations against him in several towns of the province. The popularity of the League in urban Bengal was evident by 1944, when Huq's Muslim candidates lost every seat in the elections to the Calcutta Corporation to the League. Radical Leaguers like Suhrawardy built up a base among Muslim labour during the League's tenure in power from 1943-5. Involved in ministerial politicking, Huq had gradually lost the rural base which had swept him into power in 1937. In 1946, Bengal League candidates were personally selected by Suhrawardy and approved of by Jinnah. "Pakistan" as Bengal Leaguers presented it to their voters lead to prosperity for backward Muslims. At a Bengal League conference, Liaqat Ali Khan promised the abolition of zamindari without compensation-a promise which could have only won the League support of the poor Muslim peasantry of Bengal. But were Bengal Leaguers, thinking of the sovereign Pakistan of Jinnah's conception? It seems unlikely. Ispahani, one of Jinnah's most loyal lieutenants in Bengal, told the Governor in January 1946 that Muslims needed opportunities for self-advancement, administratively and otherwise, and Casey's 'definite impression' was that adequate safeguards would be acceptable to the Muslims. Ispahani said he realized very well that the day of small states was past, and that if the British imposed an interim government of India, which had adequate safeguards for the Muslims, it would be accepted.

The League's success in Bengal and Sind can be partly accounted for by the fact that it did not face any serious, organized opposition in these provinces. Huq's party was in disarray; in Sind, no Muslim stood on the Congress ticket as this would have been fatal for any chances of victory. The Congress lacked the money and organization required to contest Muslim seats in every province. The release of Congress prisoners less than three months before the elections added to their difficulties and large amounts of money were needed in the Muslim majority provinces, especially in the Punjab and Bengal, which, for the Congress, 'held the key position' in the election. But it was in these two provinces that the provincial Congress groups were riven by factions, and organizational work never really got under way.[Azad to Patel, 21 October 1945, Patel to Prafulla Ghosh, 26 October 1945.]

Congress strategy in Muslim constituencies sometimes confounded its own supporters. For example, in Sind the Congress negotiated with the League for a coalition, even as it was fighting the League in other provinces.  Azad's offer to the League of a coalition in Sind 'came as a great surprise' to Congressmen in Punjab. Anti-League Muslims 'cannot understand these things, nor can the rest of us'.[B.S.Gilani to Patel, 10 February 1946] The Congress allied with Nationalist Muslims, Ahrars, Momins-indeed with any anti-League Muslim party. It carried out propaganda for Nationalist Muslims, and the League and the Congress vied with each other in the virulence of their appeals to religious loyalty. The Congress used Muslim divines in the UP and Bengal. League ministries during the war were condemned as the stronghold of the British. In Bengal, Nationalist Muslims alleged that one of the 'wonders' of the League ministry during the war was the 'man-made famine' of 1943. To this the League reported that Hindus, who were in a majority in the Viceroy's executive council, had refused to send food to Bengal and were therefore responsible for the famine. League newspapers published reports of Hindu volunteers donning Turkish caps while campaigning for Nationalist Muslims.

The League, however, had the whip-hand in Muslim religious propaganda against the Congress. The Morning News in Calcutta claimed that the Jamiat-ul-ulema-i-Hind, which campaigned for the Congress was working for Hindiat, while the Jammat-i-Islami, which supported the League, stood for Islamiat.[Morning News, 25 October 1945]. The Jammat-i-Islami accused the Jamiat-ul-ulema-i-Hind of making a distinction between religious and secular matters.

'They remembered the prayer, but they forgot the chain of armour donned by the Prophet Muhammed when he went forth to fight the unequal battle with the infidels... They misled the Muslims to the unworthy tenets of ahimsa.'

Its attempts to outdo the League in religious propaganda, without having a widespread popular base among Muslims, profited Congress little, and only contributed to the atmosphere of communal bitterness.

Only in the NWFP was the Congress successful in both Hindu and Muslim constituencies. Here, in spite of defection from the Congress to the League before the elections, the Congress was the better organized party. Aurangzeb stood discredited because of the undignified method he had used to remain in power and was not even given a League ticket. Although the Congress and their Red Shirt allies used the religious appeal(the tri-colour was marked with the Kalima), it was not this alone that won the election for the Congress. The Congress was successful in representing the League as a catspaw of the British. It appealed to the less well-to-do, over whom the Khans were losing their hold. Moreover, the provincial League was disorganized, and it was only on 10 December that a Committee of Action was set up. The fact that Mamdot was appointed as its convener suggest that the League found it difficult to get a reliable man from the province to head the committee.

All candidates in the NWFP attached importance to personal contacts with voters and visited individual houses or mohallas. Election officials reported a growing sense of political discipline in canvassing, addressing and organizing mass meetings. Appeals to tribal and sectional loyalties were made, but they may not have made much difference in a province where a Khan only had to declare his loyalty to the League, and his relatives would support the Congress. They would also give their tenants a free running, and it was 'a tenantry which had been primed that they would be allowed to take over the Land belonging to the Khan if the Congress came to power'. The election saw a fight more on ideological than on personal grounds. The League's charge that the Congress was using office to win votes was  balanced by the fact that most Muslim officials had League sympathies, and even some British officers and their wives campaigned for the League. Pakistan did not have much appeal for the Pathans, because, according to Cunningham, they did not think they would be dominated by the Hindus or anyone else!

Nevertheless, the League did not fare so badly in the province, contesting all 33 Muslim seats and winning 15. It also won the special seats reserved for landholders, none of which was contested by the Congress. The Congress won 19 Muslim seats and lost 8. Anti-League parties secured 58.75 per cent of the total Muslim vote. The extent of the League's success in Muslim constituencies in 1945-6 can be gauged from the fact that it won 76 per cent of the total Muslim vote in India- a very far cry indeed from the 4.8 per cent it had obtained in 1937! Its achievements in the Punjab were remarkable; it defeated, and unseated, 57 Unionists in Muhammedan rural constituencies; the Congress in 9 rural constituencies and swept the Ahrars from 5 urban seats. The Unionists defeated the League in only 11 rural constituencies. With a total of 62 wins in rural areas, all 9 urban seats and both the women's seats, the League chalked up 73 seats in the Punjab legislature, and polled 65.10 per cent of the votes polled in Muslim constituencies.

In Bengal, it did even better, obtaining 83.6 per cent of the Muslim votes polled. The Krishak Praja party secured only 5.3 per cent, and the Jamiat-ul-ulema and Nationalist Muslims, both supported by the Congress, won 1.2 and 0.2 per cent of the Muslim votes polled.

The NWFP was the only province where the League failed to secure a majority of Muslim votes: anti-League parties obtained more than 58 per cent of the votes polled. Nevertheless, of the extent of the League's victory, and its appeal to Muslims, there was no doubt. The gains of the League clearly represented a turning of many Muslims from the essentially provincial concerns to rally behind the only Muslim party which would take care of their interests at the all-India level, in the bargaining for the spoils of the transfer of power. The League's success also represented a solidification and politicization of the Muslim religious community, a rallying to "Pakistan", but whether that meant the victory of Jinnah's conception of a sovereign state can perhaps be questioned.

With the election results out, there arose the question of the formation of governments in the provinces. In Bengal and Sind, the League had enough seats to form ministries, but in the Punjab it needed the support of 10 more members to obtain a majority in the legislature. Here the League offered 3 portfolios to the Sikhs if they would enter a Muslim League coalition.[Statesman, 26 February 1946] But Pakistan was the stumbling-block. The Sikhs objected to the League's insistence on Pakistan, to which the Muslim League leaders replies that the ministry came under the Act of 1935 and that all India issues did not come into question. The Sikhs retorted that there was no all India issue for them.[Civil and Military Gazette, 28 February 1946]. Negotiations between the League and the Congress failed because the League refused to enter into a coalition with any non-League Muslim groups.[Statesman, 6 and 9 March 1946]. This was in contrast to the years before 1945, when the AIML had not always been able to prevent provincial Leagues from coalescing with non-League Muslim parties. Jinnah's authority was now apparently sufficient to prevent such coalitions. Every candidate for the elections had been selected with his approval; their victory was therefore a personal triumph for him.

On 7 March, the Congress, Akalis, and the Unionists formed the Punjab Coalition Party, under the leadership of Khizar. The strength of the Coalition worked out to at least 10 more than that of the League. Glancy accordingly called on Khizar as leader of the coalition to form a ministry, despite the contention of Muslim League leaders that they represented the largest individual party.

Deprived of constitutional power, the League organized demonstrations against the Ministry. Muslim students were directed by provincial League leaders to demonstrate before Khizar's residence in Lahore. Communal feeling had been strengthened by an election fought on the slogan of Pakistan; and the Congress leaders advised Hindu students not to start counter-demonstrations; while the League demanded Glancy's dismissal. Local Muslim Leaguers were directed 'to organize the Muslim masses to prepare them for the determined will of the Mussalmans and a blot on the fair name of this Province'. The Congress was condemned for joining the coalition whom it had formerly derided as reactionaries. A coalition which included so small a percentage of Muslims was a strange anomaly in the Province, especially when the party which commanded a majority of the Muslim votes found no place in the government. It did not augur well for the future.

Anita Inder Singh writes in a later chapter, Prelude to Partition:
[After the December 6 1946 statement of the British Government] Jinnah saw Pakistan being presented to him. Taking aside Baldev Singh, the Sikh representative at the London Conference, he offered him any guarantees the Sikhs might require. 'Baldev Singh, you see this matchbox. Even if Pakistan of this size is offered to me I will gladly accept it, but it is here that I need your collaboration. If you persuade the Sikhs to join hands with the Muslim League we will have a glorious Pakistan, the gates of which will be near about Delhi if not in Delhi itself.'[Baldev Singh to Nehru, 18 September 1955, Nehru Correspondence, quoted by Gopal, Nehru, Vol.1, p338]. As Pethick-Lawrence had earlier perceived, what Jinnah wanted was not an assurance of the intentions of the Cabinet Mission but a guarantee that they would be enforced by the British.  He replied to the Statement of 6 December that unless H.M.G. could guarantee that there would be a constitution on the lines recommended by the Cabinet Mission, details about the procedure of the Constituent Assembly were of no interest to him.[Secretary of State to Viceroy, 18 November 1946, L/P&J/10/76, pp.293-4]
(end quotes from Anita Inder Singh)

The veteran Sindhi leader G.M. Syed's account of the aftermath of the 1946 elections in Sind differs slightly from Anita Inder Singh's. In his testimony he related that Muslim League did not in fact win enough seats to form a government in Sind and that the Sind Governor Francis Mudie and European legislators had to help the Muslim League do so. Thanks to Venkatesh Jagannathan for the reference.

G.M. Syed on the 1946 Sind elections
We fielded 16 candidates against the Central League nominees in the elections held on January 21, 1946. The reactionaries used religion against us. People were told that if G.M. Syed and his colleagues succeeded, Islam would be in jeopardy. We were called Hindu agents. We also exposed the misdeeds of the League Ministry in every nook and corner of Sindh, but such was the power of their propaganda and pelf that only four of our candidates could win while Haji Maula Bux’s independent group secured three seats. After an alliance with the latter, I was elected leader and Maula Bux the deputy leader of the enlarged group. The party position was like this:

Muslim League (central) 27
Congress 21
Sindh League plus independents 7
Labor 1

We decided to form a coalition with the Congress and the labor member. This could have given us strength of 29 and we could have formed the government. But for the sake of the larger interests of Sindh, we thought that a Congress League settlement would be more advisable and could lead to the formation of a strong ministry. But Mr. Hashim Gazdar tried for a coalition between the Muslim League and our group. Later, we tried for a League-Congress settlement when Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sardar Patel visited Sindh, so that the communal issue could be resolved. We assured them of all possible help in this regard. This is proved by the speech Mr. Hashim Gazdar made in the Assembly. We were willing to stay out of the Ministry in case there was a settlement between the League and the Congress. Mr. Gazdar lauded this spirit of political accommodation in his speech. However, Sir Ghulam Hussain was not willing for this. He had the support of the Muslim League High Command in the name of the so-called unity of the Muslim nation. Hired propagandists were used against us who declared us anti-Islam. Even the Sindh League President was not spared and goondas were sent to threaten him.

We could have formed a government in coalition with the Congress. The new Governor of Sindh, Sir Francis Mudie, summoned me. I gave him a true picture of all parties but he advised me to join the Central Muslim League. His view was that we were harming Muslim interests by being outside the Muslim League fold. I was amazed at the way the British Governor, instead of performing his duties, decided to become a patron of the Muslim League. I refused to do his bidding but was astonished when the Governor invited Sir Ghulam Hussain to form a government even though his party did not command a majority in the House. He also asked the European members to support the Ghulam Hussain Ministry- Thus gradually we came to understand as to why Mr. Jinnah himself persisted in his preference of time-servers to the progressive elements. We gave notice of a motion of no confidence against the government during the budget session at which the Leaguers retaliated in an unexpected manner.

Qazi Mujtaba was a noted communist but was at the time in the Muslim League under the influence of the Haroon family. He was made to go on a hunger strike unto death at my door. Apart from this, poisonous speeches were made against me and my group at the Eidgaah Maidaan in Karachi every night.

When the Assembly’s budget session began, we moved a no-confidence motion against the Government. Explaining my party’s stance during discussion in the house, I made the following speech:

"No-one can deny that I have always been associated with the Muslim League, In fact I have played a considerable role in strengthening the League in Sindh. The responsibility for my present position into which I have been forced ties with those who tried to throw the progressive group out of the party during the last elections. It was only after my progressive colleagues had been thrown out one after another, that I returned the League ticket. This was considered an unpardonable sin and I was expelled from the party. During the elections, every kind of propaganda was used against us. We were declared enemies of Islam and the Muslim nation. It was charged that we had sold out to the Hindus In spite of all this, we forgave those who had or maligned or otherwise harmed us and said let bygones be bygones. But an unconditional surrender was demanded of us, as if we had committed a big sin because of which we were being reluctantly expelled from the party. It was also claimed that the criticism against us was clean and pure. In spite of this, when I realized that my group leads only four members, I made an appeal, through a statement, to both the Muslim League and the Congress to form a united and honest government committed to the welfare of Sindh. I had also offered to help them in this regard. But the Sarkari (official) Muslim League talked neither with the Congress nor with us on the formation of a Ministry. After this we were left with no option but to negotiate with other parties so that together they should save the Constitution from being Suspended.

"At the time of coalition formation, I had said in a statement that I still subscribed to the basic principles of the Muslim League and I stick to what I had said. The Hon’ble Mr. Gazdar made his attempt when a coalition party had already been formed under my leadership. Only an all-party government could be formed then, provided its leaders had been unanimously elected. But the Muslim Leaguers did not accept any of the several proposals made to them for reasons known only to them in spite of the fact that except for the European members I had, and continue to have, the support of a majority of the Assembly members. It is true that after becoming Prime Minister, Sir Ghulam Hussain did indeed ask only the Congress to nominate two Hindu members to the Cabinet. However, as a seasoned politician, he should have realized that the Congress could not do so because it had already formed a coalition with the nationalist group of the Muslim League and Haji Maula Bux’s independent group In the circumstances now prevailing, neither we nor the Congress can be of any help to the Muslim League Ministry until it is dissolved and then reconstituted in consultation with, and the consent of, all groups.

"In this regard, I wish to inform the House of a fresh development of which I came to know rather late. The day the motion of no confidence was moved, some members of the Treasury Benches and a European member appealed to our party to arrive at some settlement with them in the larger interests of Sindh. Keeping this in view and after consulting my party, I called on Sir Ghulam Hussain at his residence. And I came to know through reliable sources that Sir Ghulam Hussain and the deputy leader of the League, Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro had sent a telegram to the Muslim League High Command, requesting that in the interests of the province and the Muslim masses, the ban on G.M. Syed and his group’s entry into the party should be lifted.

"The response from the High Command reflects its mentality. It is willing to form a coalition with the Congress and the Mahasabha which are against the very creation of Pakistan but will not deal with sincere and principled people who are flesh of their flesh and bone of their bones. These were the telegraphic exchanges, which took place:

From Mr. Jinnah to the Sindh Premier
Received your telegram. In my view the ban on Syed and others cannot be lifted. They should apologize and offer unconditional obedience. For as long as he is with the enemies, there can be no talks with Syed under any conditions.

From Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan to Sir Ghulam Hussain.
Received joint telegram from you and Khuhro. Syed must offer unconditional obedience and apologize for violating party discipline and decisions and offer loyalty in future, Only then can the lifting of the ban on him
                                                                                                                                                Liaquat Ali Khan "This is the policy of the High Command which it thinks will lead to Muslim unity and which it hopes will persuade us to assist the Muslim League Ministry. The Muslim League Press may do whatever it wants to tarnish my spirit or me but the people at least should know that my followers or I do not hanker after office. Pursuit of power is not for me and my past record shows it. I don’t have to say anything more to satisfy the people.

"We shall not oppose the League if it reshuffles its Cabinet-on its own and chooses the best Ministers it can find to serve the people. To subscribe to the League does not mean liberty to play foul in the name of the party. I stand for an end to bureaucratic corruption, for law and order, for communal harmony and for better economic and educational opportunities for the people. I hold these objectives above the party’s mere name. Expulsion from the League and other repressive measures cannot make me leave the path I have chosen for myself. My conscience is clear. I shall never stop from serving Sindh and its people. I have not left the League; I have been forcibly expelled. I can’t help saying that no honest, self-respecting and principled individual can be made to leave the righteous path through bluff and bluster. If there is truth in what the Leaguers say and if they have any respect for their party (for which I struggled so hard), they should make immediate changes in the Ministry and replace incompetent and needless Ministers with honest and able people. After that, I’ll have no dispute with them. However, if their ultimate aim is power, let them stick to it for as long as they can but then let no one expect any help from me. Under these circumstances, I have no option but to support the motion of no-confidence."

The motion failed by 30-29 with the European member making the difference. However, before the session ended, Mir Bande Ali Talpur moved a cut motion in which the Government was defeated. However, instead of asking Sir Ghulam Hussain to resign, the Governor summoned Mr. Bande Ali Talpur, had him made a Minister and thus saved the day for the Government! This was the moral rebuff to the League High Command’s attitude towards us. We were penalized while those who abused the League and kept on shifting loyalties were rewarded with Ministries. Perhaps in the eyes of the League leaders, rules and regulations and principles were only for the Progressives while they and their cabinet could do pretty much as they pleased no matter how wrong or how reprehensible.
(end quotes from G.M.Syed).


CMP(1) -  From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman'

CMP(2) -  Congress and Muslim League positions on 12 May 1946

CMP(3) -  The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946

CMP(4) - Jinnah  and ML  responses to the CMP 22 May  and June 6 1946

CMP(5) -  Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegation on 4 April 1946

CMP(6) -  Jinnah's meeting with Missiion Delegation on 16 April 1946

CMP(7A) - Maulana Azad's meeting with Mission Delegation on 17 April 1946

CMP(7) -  The Congress unease with parity  8-9 May 1946

CMP(7B) - Jinnah and Azad responses to preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946

CMP(8A) - Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union

CMP(8) -  More exchanges on parity, Simla Conference meeting  11 May 1946

CMP(9) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and CMP, 8 Jan. and 25 May 1946

CMP(10) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946

CMP(11) -   Congress opposition to grouping. Gandhi, Patel and Azad, May 1946

CMP(12) - Congress Working Committee resolutions, May-June 1946

CMP(12A) - Arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim, June 1946

CMP(12B) - Behind the scenes-Gandhi, June-July 1946

CMP(12C) - Behind the scenes-Jinnah, June-July 1946

CMP(13) - Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946

CMP(14) - League rejected Plan, called Direct Action,  July-August 1946

CMP(15) - Viceroy strong-arming Nehru, Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick-Lawrence to Attlee, Aug -Sept 1946

CMP(16) - Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, Sept. 1946

CMP(17) - League Boycott of the Constituent Assembly Dec. 1946

CMP(17A) - Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947

CMP (A1) - Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Wavell

CMP(A2) - North West Frontier Province, Oct-Nov 1946 and Feb-March 1947

CMP(A3) - Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946

CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947

CMP (18) - My take

CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?

CMP(20) - Another take -with links to reference material

CMP(21) - Mountbatten discussing CMP with Patel and Jinnah, 24-26 Apr 1947

CMP(22) - A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan

Extra(1) - Jinnah's speech in March 1941 on independent sovereign Pakistan

Extra(1A) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942

Extra(1B) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940

Extra(1C) - Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45

Extra(2) - Gandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan

Extra(3) - BR Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'

Extra(4) - Congress and Muslim parties' on the Communal question 1927-1931

Extra(4A) - Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928

Extra(4B) - Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38

Extra(5) -  BR Ambedkar on Communal Representation 1909-1947

Extra(6) - Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947

Extra(6A) - Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43

Extra (6B) - Apr-Jul 1947 Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah

Extra(7) - M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory

Extra(8) - On Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies

Extra(9) - Links to cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys from the Daily Mail, UK, 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth

Extra(10) -Nehru Report 1928 (10 MB pdf)
Extra(11) -Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, May-June 1937

Extra(12) -Jinnah, Linlithgow, Sikander Hayat, Pakistan rumblings 1942-43

Durga Das (1) 1919-1931, Jallianwala Bagh to Bhagat Singh

Durga Das (2) 1931-1936, Crescent Card: Jinnah in London to Fazli Husain in Punjab

Durga Das(3) 1937-1940, Provincial Autonomy to Jinnah gets the veto

Durga Das(4) 1940-1945, The War Years: India's War Effort-Pakistan on a platter

Durga Das(5) 1945-1947, The Cabinet Mission to Divide and Quit

1937-1940(2)  Congress and Jinnah fall out in U.P., Jinnah's anti-Congress campaign and the Viceroy gives Jinnah a Veto: Ayesha Jalal, Sarvepalli Gopal and Stanley Wolpert

1937: Congress-Jinnah tussle over coalition government in U. P., M.J. Akbar

1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad

1939-1940: India and the War, Anita Inder Singh

1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh

1857-1938 Glimpses of British policy in Punjab: Ian Talbot and David Page

1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher

Glendevon (1) 1937: Congress's Office Acceptance Saga over Governor's Powers

Glendevon (2) 1937-1940: Federation, Jinnah, Congress activism in Princely States

Glendevon (3) 1939-1942: Linlithgow, Congress, Jinnah,War-time Realignments

1939-1947: Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila

1944: Gandhi-Jinnah talks, Jaswant Singh

1830s-1898: British Forward Policy(1)

1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)

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