Political Career

Jinnah’s fascination with the world of politics started from his early days in London. He was very impressed by Dadabhai, a Parsi from Bombay. Upon returning to India, Jinnah entered the world of politics as a Liberal nationalist and joined the Congress despite his father’s fury at his abandoning the family business. The 20th annual session of the Congress in December 1904, was the first attended by Jinnah in Bombay. It was presided over by Pherozshah Mehta of whom Jinnah was a great admirer. Mehta suggested that two of his chosen disciples be sent to London as Congress deputies to observe the political arena at that time. His choices for the job were M.A Jinnah and Gopal Krishna Gokhale whose wisdom and moderation the former also admired

"If Jinnah’s stay in London was the sowing time, the first decade in Bombay, after return from England, was the germination season, the next decade (1906-1916) marked the vintage stage; it could also be called a period of idealism, as Jinnah was a romanticist both in personal and political life. Jinnah came out of his shell, political limelight shone on him; he was budding as a lawyer and flowering as a political personality. A political child during the first decade of the century, Jinnah had become a political giant before Gandhi returned to India rom South Africa."

Aziz Beg, Jinnah and his Times
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah
Partition of Bengal 1905

Partition of Bengal

The partition of Bengal shook India in 1905. Lord Curzon, one of the most powerful British rulers gave affect to the partition. With a population of over 80 million, it was difficult to administer the province so a line was drawn between the Hindu dominated West Bengal and the Muslim dominated East Bengal. Dacca became the capital of the new Muslim majority province comprising Eastern Bengal and Assam. West Bengal with Hindu majority was administered from Calcutta. The birth of the Eastern Bengal and Assam province was considered as a blessing and a moment of relief for the Muslims whereas it was an eyesore for the Hindus.

The Hindu community was aghast at the creation of the Muslim majority province and even a movement was launched against the partition. Calcutta’s Bengali Hindu elite protested vehemently against this partition. Large rallies and protests on the streets were carried out frequently all over the country and the British goods were also boycotted.

The impassioned anti-government speeches brought the common man in the streets. Though Jinnah was not very vocal about the issue of the partition of Bengal but its effects were to alter his life and career tremendously in the future. The partition of Bengal gave the Muslims of Bengal adequate representation in the power structure and awakened political consciousness among them which led to the formation of the Muslim League in 1906.

The partition of Bengal gave the Muslims of Bengal adequate representation in the power structure and awakened political consciousness among them which led to the formation of the Muslim League in 1906.

Rise of Muslim Nationalism

The year 1906 was extremely important and eventful in the history of Indian nationalism. On 1st October, 1906, a deputation comprising of 35 Muslim leaders from all parts of India gathered in Simla to meet the new viceroy and place forth their appeal for help against the unconcerned attitude of the Hindus towards the needs and status of the Muslim majority in future political setup. They informed the viceroy about their hopes for the representation of Muslims in every branch of government. They further elaborated that the Muslims should not be regarded merely as a minority but a distinct community with strong historical and political background.

The Viceroy was sympathetic to the demands of the group and applauded their loyal and articulate address. As a result of this meeting, the Muslims were promised separate electorates, which was a recognition of separate Muslim identity and proved a historical milestone in the making of Pakistan.

The year 1906 was extremely important and eventful in the history of Indian nationalism. On 1st October, 1906, a deputation comprising of 35 Muslim leaders from all parts of India gathered in Shimla to meet the new viceroy, Curzon.

Group photo taken at the Annual Mohammaden Educational Conference in Dacca, 1906

All India Muslim League Foundation – 1906

In the year 1906, a leading landlord of Dacca, NawabSalimullah Khan invited the annual Mohammedan Educational Conference to be held in Dacca. The founding meeting of the All India Muslim League was held in Dacca’s Shahbagh on December 30th, 1906. It was presided over by NawabViqar-ul-Mulk. The resolution was moved by the Nawab of Dacca, and was seconded by Hakim Ajmal Khan. NawabViqar-ul-mulk, who was the first president of the infant Muslim League, declared:

“The musalmans are only a fifth in number as compared with the total population of the country, and it is manifest that if at any remote period the British government ceases to exist in India, then the rule of India would pass into the hands of that community which is nearly four times as large as ourselves, our life, our property, our honour, and our faith will all be in great danger, when even now that a powerful British administration is protecting its subjects, we the Musalmans have to face most serious difficulties in safe-guarding our interests from the grasping hands of our neighbors.”

NawabViqar-ul-Mulk, the first president of All India Muslim League
The AIME Conference in 1906, held at the Ahsan Manzil palace of the Dhaka Nawab Family, laid the foundation of the Muslim League

The main cause for the formation of the Muslim League was to safeguard and advance the rights and the welfare of the Muslim community and to convey their needs and problems to the government. The Muslims had realized that it was important for them to have a platform to voice their demands; their meeting with the Viceroy at Shimla had already proved productive and fruitful. Another reason for the formation of the Muslim League was to prevent the rise of any kind of hostility among the Muslims towards other communities. Aga Khan was appointed the first honorary president of the Muslim League. The London branch of the League was also founded by Syed Ameer Ali.

NawabViqar-Ul-Mulk, The first president of All India Muslim League
Dadabhai Naoroji (4 September 1825 – 30 June 1917), known as the Grand Old Man of India

The Realists and the Idealists

The Muslims at that point were divided into two groups. Firstly, there were the Idealists who believed that the Hindus and the Muslims could still work together to achieve their goals. These Idealists joined the Congress. The other group was that of the Realists who were convinced that the Congress was a biased platform which protected only the interests of the Hindus, which will ultimately lead to the Hindus ruling the Muslims. Jinnah attended the annual session of the Congress at Calcutta in 1906 along with other similar minded Muslims, Hindus, Parsis and the Christians.This meeting was presided over by DadabhaiNaoroji and M.A Jinnah acted as his secretary.

Dadabhai claimed that by partitioning Bengal, the British had made a grave mistake, which must be remedied for the sake of the people of the subcontinent. Talking about the issue of the mounting distance between the Hindu and the Muslim communities, he said, once self-government is attained, then there will be prosperity enough for all, but not till then. The thorough union, therefore, of all the people for their emancipation is an absolute necessity. At that point Jinnah was a firm believer of this ideology and strongly advocated it. He therefore came to be known as the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. With this stance in mind, he set out to accomplish the Congress’s mission of uniting the two communities, which would ultimately help the Indians to achieve ‘Swaraj’ (self-rule).

At that point Jinnah was a firm believer of this ideology and strongly advocated it. He therefore came to be known as the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Split in Congress and Boycott Movement

There was a split in the Congress led by the Maharashtra’s Lokamanya, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, in the session held at Surat in 1907. Tilak had no confidence in the reforms promised by Morley and in protest his followers first rejected British-made goods and later boycotted their institutions too. They started protesting fervently for Swaraj and became popular with the masses. The British government in an attempt to gain control over the situation arrested the prominent leaders of that movement which included Tilak.

Tilak chose Jinnah to his case in the High Court, Jinnah’s exceptional skills as a barrister and orator were obvious in the way he presented his case.

Tilak chose Jinnah to his case in the High Court and although the British government refused to hear anything on Tilak’s behalf, Jinnah’s exceptional skills as a barrister and orator were obvious in the way he presented his case. Also the depth of his character can be seen in the fact that he was willing to fight, to the best of his ability, for the leader of an opponent party. This earned him the respect and esteem of one of the most conformist leaders of the subcontinent at that time.

Swadeshi Movement in India - 1905

Jinnah was one of the few members to participate in the Viceroy’s sixty-man Central Legislative Council in 1910. He was 35 at that time and was amongst the youngest members to join this high level council.

Jinnah was one of the few members to participate in the Viceroy’s sixty-man Central Legislative Council in 1910. He represented Bombay. He was 35 at that time and was amongst the youngest members to join this high level council, again verifying his brilliance and standing. This was three years before when he actually joined the Muslim League. King George V annulled the partition of Bengal, in December 1911, leaving the Muslims of India with a feeling of betrayal as the highest officials of the government had assured them of its permanence.

Lucknow Pact 1916

The Muslim League and the Congress held their meetings at Lucknow in the end of December 1916. They accepted unanimously agreed reforms scheme presented by their respective committees. The Congress-League scheme popularly known as the Lucknow Pact pointed out the steps that needed to be taken to gain self-government for India. Jinnah supported the coming together of the two parties to coerce the government to grant India self-rule.

The most significant achievement of this pact for the Muslims was that for the first time the Congress had recognized the Muslim League as a Representative body of the Muslims of the sub-continent and they were granted separate electorates in the provincial as well as in Imperial Legislative Council. The central government was generally to avoid undue intervention in the working of the provincial governments.

Muslim League leaders pose for a group photo at Lucknow, 1916
Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah (Center) was the principal architect of the Lucknow Pact, 1916

The Muslims who feared losing Islamic and cultural identity were assured that: No bill, nor any clause thereof, nor a resolution introduced by a non-official member affecting one or the other community, which question is to be determined by the members of that community in the Legislative Council concerned, shall be proceeded with, if three-fourth of the members of that community in the particular Council, Imperial or provincial, oppose the bill or any Clause thereof or the resolution. The Muslims were Guaranteed more seats than the ratio of their population in the Center and minority provinces but less in Punjab and Bengal. This made the Muslims majority in these two provinces less effective in the days to come.

Act of 1919 (Montagu-Chlemsford Reforms)

Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India visited India in November to review the situation under Lord Chelmsford’s Government. After an interview with Jinnah, Montagu expressed his opinion and found Jinnah:

“Perfectly mannered, impressive looking, armed to the teeth with the dialects. Chelmsford tried to argue with him, and was tied up into knots. Jinnah is a very clever man and it is of course an outrage that such a man should have no chance of running the affairs of his own country.”

Edwin Montagu found Jinnah - “Perfectly mannered, impressive looking, armed to the teeth with the dialects.”

The act of 1919 came into force on January 1, 1921. The reforms introduced in the act were based mainly on the proposals of the Montagu-Chelmsford report published on July 8, 1918. The act substituted the Central Legislative Council by a legislature of two houses, which were the Indian Legislative Assembly and the Council of States. The onus of the power rested with the Governor General who could legislate and impose taxes under his power to certify the bills. The Governor General’s Executive Council was still answerable only to the Secretary of State but the composition of the Council that was previously six British and an Indian member was now three Indian and four British. Communal representation was granted to the minorities and Muslims were given separate electorates as agreed upon in the Lucknow Pact. One of the most important feature of this act was the introduction of the system of diarchy in the provinces. The ministers held office only to enjoy the comforts of the house and had little significant powers.

These reforms received a mixed reaction in India. Jinnah was one of the first to comment on 23rd July 1918. He talked about how different the reforms were from those decided by the Congress and the Muslim League he did not reject them despite the fact that he was not entirely satisfied with them. He was flexible about his reaction to the reforms provided that the powers rested in the government were temporary.

Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India

Rowlatt Act 1919

On 18th of July of the same year, the Rowlatt Act was passed which included three High Court judges would preside over a special court, which could record evidence, which was not permitted under the Indian Evidence Act. The provincial government was permitted to warrant and detain anyone to stop from any particular act. The Quaid was against that Bill on the ground that it was against the law of justice that any man shall be denied his rights without a judicial trial. He sent a letter to the Viceroy in which he resigned from the Imperial Legislative Council,and said: The passing of the Rowlatt Billhas severely shaken the trust reposed by them in British justice.

He sent a letter to the Viceroy in which he resigned from the Imperial Legislative Council, and said: “The passing of the Rowlatt Billhas severely shaken the trust reposed by them in British justice.”

The Khilafat Movement

Lloyd George,the British Prime Minister to pacify the Muslims all over the world, had assured the world that the Allies had no intention to dismember Turkey and after the war Turkish possessions would be made over to Turkey. He said, “nor are we fighting to deprive Turkey of the rich lands of Asia Minor and Thrace, which are predominantly Turkish in race.” But the promise was not honored.

The Jazirat-ul-Arab which includes Mesopotamia, Arabia, Syria and Palestine was being divided among allies in the form of a Mandate. This development raised a war of indignation among the Indian Muslims due to sanctity and respect associated with these lands. They demanded that the pledges given to them during the war should be honored. This demand gave rise to what is generally known as the KhilafatMovement. This cause was initially taken up by Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind founded by Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Malani. Maulana Mohammad Ali and MaulanaShaukat Ali also joined it.

The government of India Act of 1919 fell short of the expectations of the Indian political parties. It introduced diarchy in the provinces, which meant subjects were to be divided into reserved and transferred. The reserved were to be administered by nominated Ministers and then transferred by the elected ones. While at the center, the British Governor General remained sole authority. The people could not accept this after the imposition of unsatisfactory Rowlatt Act and the atrocities inflicted on the people of Punjab. The Muslims were also perturbed over the unfair treatment given to Turkey by the victorious allied powers. During the war, the Muslims had shown concern about the developments in Turkey and the institution of the Khilafat.

Treaty of Sevres - Partitioning of Ottoman Empire

Jinnah’s Stance on the Ottoman Empire

The Muslim League met in Calcutta under Jinnah. At this meeting Jinnah said:

“First came the Rowlatt Bill -- accompanied by the Punjab atrocities -- and then came the spoliation of the Ottoman Empire and the Khilafat. One attacks our liberty and the other our faith.”

Jinnah at Muslim League’s Annual Session 1918, Calcutta

In November 1919, a joint conference of the Muslims and Hindus was called at Delhi in pursuance of the Muslim League President Fazl-ul-Haq in which he said, “we should renounce any lurking spirit of strife and quarrel with other communities and seek their help and assistance in our troubles and difficulties. The question of cow protection was also raised in order to create goodwill between the Muslims and the Hindus. Gandhi suggested to start the non-cooperation movement which was opposed by Jinnah.

In a letter to Ghandi, Jinnah said that the movement was bound to lead to disaster. He said that this kind of a plan has appealed only to the illiterate and the inexperienced youth of the country.

Khilafat Conference and Non-Cooperation Resolution

In December 1919, the Khilafat Conference held its second session in Amritsar where the Muslim League and the Congress also held their annual sessions. But the tensions raised could not be settled and Jinnah could no longer play a leading role in the Khilafat movement and it passed into the hands of Ali brothers, Dr. Kitchlew and the militant segment of the Ulema. Under that leadership it began to overpower the Muslim League. Jinnah took a back seat to all this and did not join the Indian leaders who met the Viceroy on January 19, 1920 to plead for a settlement with Turkey.

The third Khilafat Conference was held in February 1920 at Bombay which passed the resolution for non- cooperation and the Calcutta Provincial Conference decided to cease all relations of loyalties with the British and to assist the Caliph in all possible ways to keep his dominion intact as it was before the war. Jinnah and other fellow moderates did not participate in this Khilafat agitation. In a letter to Ghandi, Jinnah said that the movement was bound to lead to disaster. He said that this kind of a plan has appealed only to the illiterate and the inexperienced youth of the country. He said that though he had no power to remove the cause, he wished to advise his countrymen against the dire consequences of such an extreme act.


The Khilafat Movement and Congress

Thus Jinnah opposed Gandhi’s plan of starting a mass non-violent, non-cooperation movement all over the country. Gandhi became the head of the Khilafat movement and declared that the Indians would boycott all British goods, courts, institutions, elections, etc. He urged that such large scale protest movement would force the British to grant India self-rule. He had envisaged four progressive stages of the movement. First the resignation of titles and offices. Second, with drawl from all government services except police and military. Third, with-drawl from police and military, and fourth, suspension of payment of taxes to the State. The Quaid on the other hand, felt that the Indians should fight Imperialism constitutionally instead. The Nagpur session, which was thirty-fifth Congress, was held in December 1920. Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement had been approved at a special session at Amritsar and during the Nagpur session, Jinnah was the only person who had the courage to openly oppose the resolution proposed by Gandhi, despite strong opposition by the crowd. The Quaid said:

“The weapon will not destroy the British empire. It is neither logical nor is it politically sound or wise, nor practically capable of being put in execution.” – Jinnah on Boycott Movement Led by Gandhi.

The Royal Military Sandhurst Academy, UK

Jinnah's Differences with the Congress

M.A Jinnah differed with Gandhi on the means of achieving self-rule. The League session reassembled at Lahore under Jinnah’s presidency and was attended by a number of Congressmen and leaders of the Khilafat movement. The Quaid, despite his differences with Mahatma Gandhi and the Khilafatists, still enjoyed the trust and admiration of the Muslims of Bombay which can be seen from the fact that he won the Bombay Muslim seat for the Legislative Assembly that he had resigned in protest against the Rowlatt Act.

In February 1924, The Quaid introduced an important resolution in the National Assembly that went to the heart of India’s struggle for economic independence. According to this resolution, tenders would be invited in rupees in India.

The Congress had boycotted the first elections under the Act of 1919, which were held in 1920 and so had Jinnah. A group of twenty-four people along with Jinnah formed a group by the name of Independents. In February 1924, The Quaid introduced an important resolution in the National Assembly that went to the heart of India’s struggle for economic independence. According to this resolution, tenders would be invited in India in rupees, which would be an advantage to the businessmen and manufacturers of the country. In 1925, Jinnah was appointed as a member of a committee, which was to survey the possibilities of more ‘Indianization’ of the army and opening of a military training institute on the lines of Sandhurst. The Quaid was given this privilege in view of his deep interest in the issue of the Indians holding better ranks in the army.

The Delhi-Muslim Proposals

Tension between the Hindus and the Muslims was on the rise from 1922 onwards. The Quaid, seeing that the Hindus had no inclination to cooperate with the Muslims, invited the Muslims leaders of India to meet at Delhi under his presidency. This meeting was held on the 20th of March 1927, and the result was the Delhi-Muslim proposals, which were unanimously accepted by all the Muslim leaders. The proposals were as follows:

  1. Sind should be separated from Bombay and made an independent province
  2. Reforms should be introduced in Baluchistan and NWFP on the same footings as in any other province. In that case, Muslims are prepared to accept a joint electorate in all provinces so constituted, and are
  3. Further willing to make to Hindu minorities in Sind, Baluchistan and the NWFP, the same concessions that Hindu majorities in the other provinces are prepared to make to Muslim minorities
  4. In the Punjab and Bengal the proportion of representation should be in accordance with the population. In the Central Legislature,
  5. Muslim representation shall not be less than a third, and that also, by a mixed electorate.

(cf: Mohammed Ali Jinnah; M.H Sayid; p368-9).

Participants of the Conference held in Delhi, 1927

Jinnah strongly criticized the commission calling it a “butchery of our souls”. The relinquishment of the right to separate electorate was an unprecedented concession by the Muslims and it was a major achievement of Jinnah to have convinced his colleagues to concede this to other communities.

The Hindu community reacted to these proposals by accepting the joint electorates and rejecting the other two. It was the first time that the Muslims had agreed to joint electorates and would not do so ever again. After this the demands of the Muslims increased day-by-day and their stance to safeguard their interests hardened further, finally resulting in the demand for partition.

Simon Commission had no Indian members

The Simon Commission

The British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, announced in the House of Commons in November 1927 that a commission would be sent to India to look into the political situation of India and suggest reforms. This commission would inquire into the working of the Indian constitution and consider the desirability of establishing, extending, modifying or restricting the degree of responsible government. The Simon commission was to be headed by Sir John Simon and would have six other members which included Clement Atlee who was to preside over Indian independence as Prime Minister in 1947.

When the composition of the commission was announced, it was found that it included only British members and no Indian. This was greeted with strong protest from all parts of India and all assurances that the government would consider the Indian viewpoint in all matters was rejected. Complete equality with the British members of the commission was demanded and no one was satisfied with the status of just being petitioners.

Jinnah and many Hindu and Muslim leaders signed a manifesto which declared that unless Indian members were included in the commission, it was not possible for them to conscientiously share in its work or take any part in it. Jinnah felt that by not allowing Indians to participate in the commission, the British have tried to show that Indians are not capable of making any decisions regarding the constitution of India.

Jinnah protested against this commission along with the Congress and other leaders of the subcontinent. He tried to unite the Muslims to see how this commission would not be beneficial for them, but at this point the Muslim League split into two; Jinnah who opposed the Simon Commission headed one faction known as the ‘Jinnah Group’ while Sir Mohammed Shafi who was in favor of cooperating with the Simon Commission headed the other known as the ‘Shafi Group’.

“A constitutional war has been declared on Great Britain. Negotiations for a settlement are not to come from our side. We are denied equal partnership. We will resist the new doctrine to the best of our powers. I welcome PanditMalaviya, and I welcome the hand of fellowship extended to us by Hindu leaders from the platform of the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha. This offer is more valuable than any concession which the British Government can make.”

Jinnah on Simon Commission, 1927

Jinnah strongly criticized the commission calling it a “butchery of our souls”. As president of the Muslim League he said:

“A constitutional war has been declared on Great Britain. Negotiations for a settlement are not to come from our side. We are denied equal partnership. We will resist the new doctrine to the best of our powers. I welcome PanditMalaviya, and I welcome the hand of fellowship extended to us by Hindu leaders from the platform of the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha. This offer is more valuable than any concession which the British Government can make.”

Jinnah Moved a Resolution against Simon Commission

The Quaid moved a resolution that was accepted by the Jinnah Group. The resolution was as follows:

This public meeting of the citizens of Bombay empathetically declare that the statutory commission which has been announced is unacceptable to the people of India as it most flagrantly denies the right of the people of India to participate on equal terms in framing the future constitution of the country. This meeting further resolves that under the circumstances Indians throughout the country should have nothing to do with the commission at any state or in any form.”

Jinnah was distressed at this point. He had worked so hard for Hindu-Muslim unity and then had to face the problem of the Muslims being divided amongst themselves.

The Simon Commission arrived in Bombay on the 3rd of February and was greeted by black flags and loud slogans saying “Simon go back”.

After reading the statements of Sir John Simon and the Viceroy, Jinnah issued a statement in which he said that no equality of status was given to the Indian Committee. Indians were not allowed to vote at the proceedings of the Commission. This made the Jinnah that the Indians were left to play a subordinate role.

Lala Lajput Rai passed a resolution in the Legislative Assembly on the 16th of February 1928, which was strongly supported by Jinnah. This resolution declared that the Indians had no confidence in the Simon Commission. The Simon Commission arrived in Bombay on the 3rd of February and was greeted by black flags and loud slogans saying “Simon go back”. Wherever the Commission went it was meted out hostile treatment. The Simon Commission left India on the 31st of March.

Indians protesting against Simon Commission

Nehru Report

Lord Birkenhead had never disguised his poor opinion of Indian politicians. He felt that they were incapable of handling their own political affairs. His underestimation enraged the Congress which decided to form a committee that would represent the demands of united India. It extended invitations to twenty-nine organizations including the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Central Sikh League

At its second meeting in March there was disagreement between the Muslim League on the one hand and the Hindu Mahasabha and Sikhs on the other. In the third meeting of this committee that a “small committee viewing the communal problems as a wholemight succeed in finding a way out.”

A committee was formed with Motilal Nehru as chairman to consider and determine the principles of the Constitution for India. The report of this committee came to be known as the Nehru report. At the fourth meeting of the conference Motilal Nehru presented the report of his committee.

The report opted for the Dominion Status for India bearing in mind that it was what the majority of the parties in India would prefer. Fundamental rights were guaranteed, rationalizing that if religious and cultural freedom were given to the minority communities, it would resolve the communal problem. There were to be two houses of the Parliament, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate would consist of 200 seats, each province to be represented in proportion to their population whereas the House of Representatives would contain 500 seats and be unicameral. Both the Houses were to be elected by universal suffrage. The Muslims’ demand for one-third of the seats in the Central Legislature was rejected. Separate electorates, which were the aspirations of the Muslims, were also eliminated. The report conceded the demand that Balochistan and NWFP should have the same status as any other province of India and also agreed to the separation of Sind from Bombay despite the protest of the Hindus of Sind.

Nehru Report - Motilal Nehru (1861-1931)
Muslim League Disapproved the Nehru Report

Muslim League’s Instance on Nehru Report

The Muslim League held their 20th session in Calcutta on December 20, 1928. It was decided there that a delegation including Jinnah would attend the conference convened by the Indian National Congress to review the Nehru Report. The report was presented for final approval to an All- Parties National Convention which opened on December 22, 1928.

Jinnah proposed 4 amendments to the report on December 28:

  1. There should be no less than one-third Muslim representation in the Central Legislature.
  2. In event of the adult suffrage not being established, Punjab and Bengal should have seats reserved on population basis for the Mussalmans.
  3. The form of the constitution should be federal with residuary powers vested in the provinces. This question is by far the most important from the constitutional point of view.
  4. With regard to the question of separation of Sind and the NWFP, we cannot wait until the Nehru Constitution is established. The Mussalmans feel that it is shelving the issue and postponing their insistent demand till doomsday and they cannot agree to it.

"A fearless and lucid advocate of the small minority of Muslims whose claim he has put forward in the course of his speech." M.R. Sapru

M.R Sapru who was a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha said that Jinnah was "A fearless and lucid advocate of the small minority of Muslims whose claim he has put forward in the course of his speech."

Jinnah’s proposals were rejected when put to vote. The majority of the Muslims rejected the Nehru Report. Instead of uniting the Indian communities, the report had exposed their divisions. The Nehru Report unknowingly laid the groundwork for the making of Pakistan because it was so clearly against the intrest of Muslims. Muslim leaders like Jinnah and the Ali brothers who had till then supported the Congress to a certain degree were gravely disappointed and since they had great stature among on the Muslim masses, the Muslims in general also started distrusting the Congress and the Indian society was polarized further.

In the December 1929 session of the report one of the resolutions declared that the entire scheme of the Nehru report had lapsed.

Jinnah's Fourteen Points

M.A Jinnah presented his famous fourteen points on March 28, 1929 to the Muslim League Council at their session in Delhi. Since all the Muslims opposed the Nehru Report, these points were to counter the proposals made in the Nehru Report. The points were to recommend the reforms that would defend the rights of the Muslims of the sub-continent. These points were as follows:

  1. The form of the future constitution should be federal, with the residuary powers to be vested in the provinces.
  2. A uniform measure of autonomy shall be granted to all provinces.
  3. All legislatures in the country and other elected bodies shall be constituted on the definite principle of adequate and effective representation of minorities in every province without reducing the majority in any province to a minority or even equality.
  4. In the Central Legislature, Muslim representation shall not be less than one third.
  5. Representation of communal groups shall continue to be by separate electorates: provided that it shall be open to any community, at any time, to abandon its separate electorate in favor of joint electorate.
News paper clip about Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah's 14 points
  1. Any territorial redistribution that might at any time be necessary shall not in any way affect the Muslim majority in the Punjab, Bengal and the NWFP.

  2. Full religious liberty i.e. liberty of belief, worship, and observance, propaganda, association, and education, shall be guaranteed to all communities. (Jinnah’s famous 14 Points, March 28, 1929)

  3. Full religious liberty i.e. liberty of belief, worship, and observance, propaganda, association, and education, shall be guaranteed to all communities
  4. No bill or resolution or any part thereof shall be passed in any legislature or any other elected body if three fourths of the members of any community in that particular body oppose such a bill, resolution or part thereof on the ground that it would be injurious to that community or in the alternative, such other method is devised as may be found feasible practicable to deal with such cases.
  5. Sind should be separated from the Bombay Presidency.
  6. Reforms should be introduced in the NWFP and Balochistan on the same footing as in other provinces.
  7. Provision should be made in the Constitution giving Muslims an adequate share along with the other Indians in all the services of the State and in local self-governing bodies, having due regard to the requirements of efficiency.
  8. The Constitution should embody adequate safeguards for the protection of Muslim culture and for the protection and promotion of Muslim education, language, religion and personal laws and Muslim charitable institutions and for their due share in the grants-in-aid given by the State and by local self-governing bodies
  9. No cabinet, either Central or Provincial, should be formed without there being a proportion of at least one-third Muslim ministers.
  10. No change shall be made in the Constitution by the Central Legislature except with the concurrence of the States constituting the Indian Federation.
First Round Table Conference, London 1930

Round Table conferences

Lord Irwin took over as Viceroy in the beginning of April 1926. His efforts towards the prosperity of India were sincere. It was his integrity and earnestness because of which the Quaid soon developed a strong bond of friendship and respect with him. Lord Irwin made a monumental declaration on the 31st of October 1929, after returning from England from a four-month visit. His declaration made two major points. Firstly, that it was implicit in the declaration of 1917 that the natural issue of India’s constitutional progress, as there contemplated, was the attainment of Dominion Status. And secondly in response to the Indians outrage over the Simon Commission, he said that the representatives of different parties would discuss any further reforms that would be introduced in the subcontinent in the Round Table conferences.

Lord Irwin-Jinnah friendship - Lord Irwin took over as Viceroy in the beginning of April 1926. His efforts towards the prosperity of India were sincere. It was his integrity and earnestness because of which the Quaid soon developed a strong bond of friendship and respect with him.

The Quaid was satisfied by the declaration made by Lord Irwin but Jawaharlal Nehru in his presidential address on the 31st of October 1929 was not as convinced. He said that he appreciated the Viceroy’s good intention but did not trust the British, as they were wary of them. Gandhi passed a resolution stating that he did not expect anything constructive to be achieved by the Round Table conferences; the Congress would therefore boycott them. The All-India Congress Committee also decided to launch a civil-disobedience movement under the leadership of Gandhi.

The First Round Table Conference

The King inaugurated the first Round Table conference in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords on the 12th of November 1930. The total number of members attending this conference was eighty-nine, which included sixteen representatives of the three political parties of Britain and sixteen from the Princely States of India. The remaining fifty-seven were from the political parties of India. The conference was attended by prominent Muslim leaders like Jinnah, Shafi, Aga Khan and Muhammad Ali along with Hindu liberals such as Sastri, Sapru and Jayakar.The Sikhs, the depressed classes, the Anglo-Indians and the Christians were all represented.

All except the Congress were present, but the absence of the Congress representatives created a major obstacle in the way of any substantial progress that could have been made by the conference, as it was the largest and most active party operating in the sub-continent.

Jinnah and other prominent Muslim Leaders e.g., Shafi, Agha Khan, and Muhammad Ali along with representatives of all classes of British India attended the conference, except Congress.

The Quaid persuaded Lord Irwin to attend the conference but he was unable to do so due to his hectic schedule in India. It was confirmed in the conference that the system of government in the Center would be federal. However, the demand of the Indians to give India Dominion status as soon as possible got a somewhat lukewarm response from the British.

Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister of Britain in his concluding statement said: “It is the duty of the communities to come to an agreement” And also,

“Those engaged at present in civil disobedience should also try and cooperate with the government. Jinnah complained about the delay being made in giving India self-rule to which the British responded saying that all the parties in India must be consulted, implying the Congress, which was not present. Jinnah was exasperated by this and said that as far as this issue was concerned the Congress was in agreement with all the other parties of India. He said:

“Seventy million of Muslims-all, barring a few individuals here and there- have kept aloof from the non-cooperation movement. Thirty-five or forty millions of depressed classes have set their face against the non-cooperation movement. Sikhs and Christians have not joined it. Do you want every one of the parties who have still maintained that their proper place is to go to this Conference, and across the table to negotiate and come to a settlement which will satisfy the aspirations of India, to go back and join the rest?”

The Second Round Table Conference and Gandhi-Irwin Pact

Before the second Round Table conference, Lord Irwin released Gandhi unconditionally from prison. Gandhi had been arrested in connection with his non-cooperation movement. Gandhi and Irwin held talks and reached the Gandhi-Irwin Agreement on the 5th of March 1931.In, which it was, decided that the civil disobedience movement would be ended, and the Congress would attend the second round Table Conference. Gandhi was chosen to represent the Congress in the Conference. The Quaid maintained that without resolving the Hindu-Muslim issue, there was nothing to be achieved by the second Round Table Conference.

Lord Willingdon meanwhile succeeded Lord Irwin as the Viceroy. Gandhi claimed at the Conference that the Congress was the only party really representing the whole of India and power over India should be handed over to it. He said that the Congress would solve the minority issue after sovereignty was handed over to it. The Second Round Table Conference was productive for the Muslims for two reasons. Firstly because it was decided that Sind would be separated from Bombay if it could sustain itself financially and secondly, the NWFP was made a Governor’sProvince.

Second Round Table Conference, September 7, 1931
Allama Iqbal during the 2nd round table conference 1931

The third Round Table Conference had no substantial results. The Quaid and Allama Iqbal were not invited to it. The Congress and most of the Princely States did not participate in it either. Only forty-six delegates attended this Conference.

Allama Iqbal's Historical Address at Allahabad - 1930

Allama Mohammad Iqbal,famous poet and philosopher, gave a monumental presidential address at Allahabad on 29th of December 1930 when most of the Muslim leaders were busy in London at Round Table conference.

He Stated:

“I would like to see the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Balochistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-Western Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims at least of north-west India.”

Muhammad Iqbal, 29th December 1930 at Allahbad
Muslim League’s leaders with Allam Muhammad Iqbal at Allahabad. 1930

Indeed, the Muslims of India are the only Indian people who can fitly be described as a nation in the modern sense of the word.” Muhammad Iqbal, 1930

“We are 70 million, and far more homogenous than any other people in India. Indeed, the Muslims of India are the only Indian people who can fitly be described as a nation in the modern sense of the word.”

He also stressed that, “the model of British democracy cannot be of any use in a land of many nations.” The message that he gave through his poetry was that the Muslims should try to revive their past glory and strive as a nation to attain independence. Iqbal was a great friend and supporter of Mohammed Ali Jinnah because he saw in him those very qualities that were needed by the Muslims at the time to lead them to independence.

Jinnah was a great admirer of Iqbal and considered him source of inspiration and spiritual support.

The Quaid was also a great admirer of Allama Iqbal and said about him when he died on the 21th of April 1938 that:

“He was undoubtedly one of the greatest poets, philosophers and seers of humanity of all times,to me he was a personal friend, philosopher and guide and as such the main source of my inspiration and spiritual support.”

London - Party given by Muslim Students to Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah

London - 1931

In January 1931, the Quaid called for his daughter and sister Fatima in London and took up residence there. He was disappointed by the attitude of the British and the Hindus at the Round Table Conferences. He wrote in a letter to his friend Abdul MatinChoudary:

“I have come to the conclusion that I can be more useful here at any rate for the present. The centre of gravity is here and for the next two or three years London will be the most important scene of the Indian drama of constitutional reforms.”

The Quaid addressing the students of the Muslim University Union said:

“I received the shock of my life at the Round Table conference. I began to feel that neither could I help India, nor change the Hindu mentality, nor make the Mussalmans realize their precarious position. I felt so disappointed and so depressed that I decided to settle down in London. Not that I did not love India; but I felt utterly helpless. I kept in touch with India. At the end of four years I found that the Mussalmanswere in the greatest danger. I made up my mind to come back to India, as I could not do any good from London.

When the Indians delegates at the Round Table conference had been unable to agree upon any suitable reforms especially concerning the communal issue, the job was left to the British once again. The British Prime Minister announced the Communal Award on the 16th of April 1932, in which he introduced reforms on the lines of Lucknow Pact, which was the only juncture in history when the Muslims and Hindus had agreed upon any issue. With the introduction of the Award however, the Muslims lost their majority in important provinces like Bengal and Punjab which was a setback for them. The understanding that had been reached between Gandhi and Irwin had been nullified as Nehru was arrested before Gandhi got back from London after the Round Table Conference. Gandhi officially resigned from the Congress in October 1934 but still was a supporter of the Congress.

“I received the shock of my life at the Round Table conference. I began to feel that neither could I help India, nor change the Hindu mentality, nor make the Mussalmans realize their precarious position.”

Jinnah, Address to Muslim University Union, 1931

Disappointed on the political situation of India, Jinnah left for London along with his daughter and sister and took up residence in 1931 for four years.

Reorganization of All India Muslim League

While in England, the Quaid had been watching the events that were happening in India and was saddened to see how Muslim interests were being sacrificed by the chaotic situation within the Muslim League. The Muslim League was in the hands of rich landlords or some middle class intellectuals with limited horizons, while the All India Congress was emerging as the leading party for Indian independence.

In 1933, the "Now or Never" pamphlet by Choudhry Rehmat Ali was published in which the concept of a separate Muslim state was not only highlighted but the name "Pakistan" was also proposed for it. This motivated the young intellectuals of Aligarh and other universities to accelerate the growth of Muslim political consciousness throughout India.

Jinnah realized that organizing the Muslims of India into one powerful and dynamic organization was badly needed and that he would face enormous difficulties in that task.

Chaudhry Rehmat Ali - The Creator of the word 'Pakistan'
1933, Now or Never - Pamphlet suggesting a Muslim State called 'Pakistan'
1935 - Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah with Subhas Chandra Bose after returning from London

Jinnah Returns to India – 1934

On March 4, 1934, in a combined meeting of various factions of the Muslim League, Delhi, the formation of one Muslim League was decided and Jinnah was elected as president of that Muslim League. He was given an enthusiastic welcome on his arrival in Delhi in April 1934.

He called a meeting of the All India Muslim League Council in Delhi in October 1934 and decisions were taken to prepare grounds for the radical transformation of the Muslim League into a mass party representative of all sections of the Muslim community. After two trips to England in that year, Jinnah finally returned for good in December 1934. This was the start of a new era in India's struggle for independence. The All India Congress was not willing to acknowledge the Muslim cause and insisted on portraying only two parties in this regard, the Congress and the British. Jinnah emphasized the fact that the Congress could not win the battle of freedom until it gained the support of all the communities and assurance was not given to the minorities about their rights and protection of interest in an independent India.

This is a moment of life and death for the Muslims. The Muslim League is determined to win freedom, but it should be a freedom not only for the strong and the dominant but equally for the weak and the suppressed."

Jinnah, February 5, 1935 – Muslim Union Meeting at Aligarh

On February 5, 1935 at a meeting of the Muslim Union at Aligarh, Jinnah said, "I am convinced and you will agree with me that the Congress policy is to divide the Muslims among themselves. It is the same old tactics of the British Government. They follow the policy of their masters. Don't fall into the trap. This is a moment of life and death for the Muslims. The Muslim League is determined to win freedom, but it should be a freedom not only for the strong and the dominant but equally for the weak and the suppressed."

He performed two important tasks after his return from England; the first was to unite and activate the Muslim League as the sole representative body of the Muslims of India. The second was to continue the struggle for freedom of India on constitutional lines.

The reorganization of the Muslim League was a difficult task and he was faced with enormous difficulties including opposition from petty politicians with local interests, the propaganda of the Congress-paid nationalist Muslims and open hostility of leaders from different provinces of Muslim majority. He set an example of political and moral rectitude that was unparalleled in India.

Muslim League 1936 Session - Quaid-i-Azam M. Ali Jinnah reorganizing Muslim League

He meant what he said and was extremely honest in his dealings with friends and foes alike. He followed certain well-defined principles and nothing could persuade him to deviate from this path. He exercised his powers as president with due regard to democratic principles, acted according to the constitution of the Muslim League and never exceeded his powers as president.

Acknowledgement

Public Contribution

This site is based on User Generated Content Model or Crowdsource. All users are welcome to contribute and help in expanding Quaid-e-Azam.net. Your contributions will be mentioned by name. You can share:

  • Rare photos of Quaid-i-Azam’s personal, professional, political life,and Pakistan Movement.
  • Documents related to Quaid-i-Azam e.g., letters, messages, etc.
  • Audio-Visual content related to Quaid-i-Azam.
  • You can suggest improvements.

Read More

Share Your Content

CAPTCHA code