THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
August 15, 2022
The Wisdom Fund

Azad Remained Steadfast Against Partition

'it was Azad's vision of composite nationalism which kept India together for several decades after independence'

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a prominent leader of the Indian independence movement and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress (INC), was strongly opposed to the partition of India along religious lines. Azad, a devout Muslim and an advocate for Hindu-Muslim unity, vehemently opposed the idea of creating separate nations based on religion.

Azad believed in a united and secular India where people of different religions could coexist. His opposition to the partition plan proposed by the All-India Muslim League and accepted under the Mountbatten Plan was rooted in his vision of a pluralistic and inclusive Indian society.

Despite being a Muslim leader, Azad chose to remain in India after the partition, unlike some Muslim leaders who opted for Pakistan. He became the first Minister of Education in independent India and played a key role in the establishment of educational institutions.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's stance against partition and his commitment to a united India showcased a dedication to the principles of secularism and religious harmony. His vision of an inclusive nation, where people of different religious backgrounds could live together in harmony, was in contrast to the communal partition that led to the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Excerpts from "India Wins Freedom"

page 77

I had on earlier occasions also differed from Gandhiji on some points but never before had our difference been so complete. Things reached a climax when he sent me a letter to the effect that my stand was so different from his that we could not work together. If Congress wanted Gandhiji to lead the movement, I must resign from the Presidentship and also withdraw from the Working Committee. He said Jawaharlal must do the same. I immediately sent for Jawaharlal and showed him Gandhiji's letter. Sardar Patel had also dropped in and he was shocked when he read the letter. He immediately went to Gandhiji and protested strongly against his action. Patel pointed out that if I resigned from the Presidentship and both Jawaharlal and I left the Working Committee, the repercussions on the country would be disastrous. Not only would the people be confused but Congress would be shaken to its very foundation.

page 121

The upshot was that the list submitted by the Congress contained only two HIndu names. This proved, if proof be needed, that Congress was not a Hindu organisation. It may be said that the Hindus, who constituted the majority community of India would object to such a proposal but be it said to their credit that the Hindus of India stood solidly behind the Congress and did not waver even when they found that in the Congress list of five, three men represented Muslims, the Christians and the Parsees. The Hindu Mahasabha tried to make political capital out of this decision of the Congress, but everyone knows how miserably the Mahasabha failed. It is a strange irony of fate that like the Mahasabha, the Muslim League also opposed that the Congress should include a Muslim name in its list.

Looking back on events after a period of ten years, I cannot still help feeling surprised at the strange situation which developed as a result of the attitude of the Muslim League. The list which Lord Wavell had himself prepared included four names in addition to the five names each of the Congress and the Muslim League. One of these was a representative of the Sikhs, two of the Scheduled Castes and the fourth was Khizir Hayat Khan, then Premier of Punjab. Jinnah reacted violently to the suggestion that there should he two Muslims in the Executive Council who were not his nominees. Khizir Hayat Khan came to see me and I assured him that the Congress would not object to his inclusion. I repeated this to Lard Wavell. If therefore the Conference had not broken down because of Jinnah's opposition, the result would have been that Muslims who constituted only about 25 per cent of the total population of India, would have had seven representatives in a Council of fourteen. This is evidence of the generosity of the Congress and also throws in lurid light the stupidity of the Muslim League. The League was supposed to be the guardian of Muslim interests and yet it was because of its opposition that the Muslims of India were denied a substantial share in the Government of undivided India.

page 162

Taking all facts into consideration, it seemed to me that Jawaharlal should be the new President. Accordingly, on 26 April 1946, I issued a statement proposing his name for the Presidentship and appealing to Congressmen that they should elect Jawaharlal unanimously.

I acted according to my best judgement but the way things have shaped since then has orade me realise that this was perhaps the greatest blunder of my political life. I have regretted no action of mine so much as the decision to withdraw from the Presidentship of the Congress at this critical juncture. It was a mistake which I can describe in Gandhiji's words as one of Himalayan dimension.

My second mistake was that when I decided not to stand myself I did not support Sardar Patel. We differed on many issues but I am convinced that if he had succeeded me as Congress President he would have seen that the Cabinet Mission Plan was successfully implemented. He would have never committed the mistake of Jawaharlal which gave Mr Jinnah the opportunity of sabotaging the plan. I can never forgive myself when I think that if I had not committed these mistakes, perhaps the history of the last ten years would have been different.

My statement caused a commotion among Congressmen all over the country. Several important leaders travelled from Calcutta, Bombay and Madras to persuade me to wilthdraw my statement and allow my name to be put up. Appeals in the press also appeared to the same effect.

Azad did not "withhold publication of 30 pages"



Ambedkar handing India's constitution to Rajendra Prasad while Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajagopalachari, and Maulana Azad look on.

Rishikesh Kumar, "75 Years of Independence: How India Fought for Freedom From The British Raj," sputnikglobe.com, August 15, 2022

After Independence, Azad took over as the minister of education, science, and culture, with the task of reconstructing an India that had suffered severe blows to its cultural and social fabric for over two hundred years under colonial rule. (p.13) . . . Azad was one with Nehru in his faith in the industrial and technological progress of the country. . . . a network of institutions focussing on technological education came up in the 1950s - The Indian Institutes of Tecgnology (IITs) and the diverse laboratories under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) (p.14) . . . Maulana Azad (p.63): "Verily, the vilest of all creatures in the sight of God are those deaf, those dumb ones who do not use their reason." (Quran 8:22) . . . Azad had already begun striving for composite nationalism when V. D. Savarkar composed his essentialist text "Hindutva" in 1923 . . . religion was being transformed into political ideologies, where Hinduism became Hindutva and Islam turned into a political creed. . . . This false image, he said, was created by the genius of the British sixty years ago to counter the new political awakening that was stirring among Indians. (p.155) . . . it was Azad's vision of composite nationalism which kept India together for several decades after independence (p.169) . . . [Bal Gangadhar] Tilak's words provide salience to Azad's defintion of composite nationalism. (p.177)--S Irfan Habib, "Maulana Azad: A Life", Aleph Book Company (February 5, 2023)

[Azad held, "Hindus and Muslims must unite in a manner that they form one "Qaum' and one nation . . . the Prophet said that he extended the hands of friendship to all those who lived in the vicinity of Medina and declared that we should be 'Umma Vahidah', one people." (p.166 and 136). He returned to the theme again and again, indeed it became the leitmotif of his thought process. Drawing attention to India's "composite culture", that, he said, "Hindus and Muslims (have) been shaping for the last one thousand years and more", he stressed that the Muslims have been "proud and active partners" in forging a "syncretic culture which occupies a distinctly distinguished place". (p.166) This, he concluded, had given rise to the two communities sharing "a common nationality" (p.160).
"the practice of love, regardless of the distinction of caste, creed or nationality" constitute "the basic teachings of the Quran"--Mani Shankar Aiyar, "Irfan Habib's 'Maulana Azad: A Life' Is a Voice of Reason and Unity in Times of Hate", thewire.in, August 15, 2023]

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