To judge stature of a personality, it is important to know what the adversaries and competitors say about the qualities of that person.
Mrs. Vijay Lakshmi Pundit, a prominent figure and Nehru’s sister, stated, “If the Muslim League had 100 Gandhis and 200 Azads and Congress had only one Jinnah, then India would not have been divided!”
The statement reflects the bare fact that it was only Jinnah who fought the case of Muslim nationhood in India and won it through the force of arguments.
His steadfastness on the path, which he considered truthful, helped him achieve the desired goal. Jinnah started his political career with the Indian National Congress (INC) and was an active supporter of Hindu Muslim unity for quite some time.
The Lucknow Pact of 1916 points towards success of his endeavours in this respect.
He joined the All India Muslim League (AIML) in 1913 and occupied centre- stage in a short span of time due to his political acumen and hard work.
Jinnah successfully persuaded Muslim Leaguers to forge alliance with those struggling for citizenship rights for the Indians.
By the end of 1910, MK Gandhi had also appeared on the political horizon of India. He joined the Congress after attaining fame for championing the causes of Indians in South Africa. Both Gandhi and Jinnah hailed from Gujrati families of similar stature.
However, similarity ended there. Jinnah was a thorough gentleman in the true Edwardian mould whereas his adversary Gandhi, always attired as a Hindu holy-man.
His entry in the Indian National Congress in late 1910 heralded the gradual ‘Hinduisation’ of the party. As and when his adherents gained ascendancy, liberals like Jinnah and others were sidelined.
Incidentally Gandhi supported the Khilafat movement, launched by leaders of public opinion amongst the Muslims, to save the vanquished Ottoman Empire from victorious allies led by the British.
Gandhi came out in the support of Khilafat movement at the same time sought support for his Non- Cooperation Movement, which was not taking off.
From amongst Muslim leaders, it was only Jinnah who was able to read the obvious. He was aware of the intentions of Gandhi on this episode.
It so happened, that Turks under Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, rebelled against the Ottoman Caliph, who after loss of all Arab lands and other colonial possessions, was virtually a prisoner of Allied forces on the gates of Constantinople.
Ataturk and his supporters successfully defended Anatolia and Thrace. They abolished Caliphate which had become redundant.
Hence the Khilafat Movement lost its locus standi and fi zzled out. Gandhi by then, thanks to his Non-Cooperation Movement with an added boost by Khilafat Leadership, had gained much better position on the horizon of India.
To boost his mass appeal, Gandhi ji, not only adopted toppings of a Hindu Holy Monk, but undertook measures, hitherto, not well known in India. Political leadership prior to him never resorted to such tactics.
His prathna (prayers) session, observing fasts, etc., to press for importance of demands, introduced a new trend in Indian politics.
Besides agitational trends in the form of noncooperation, boycott of foreign goods and ‘dharna’ to press for acceptance of demands became common.
Such measures, for all time to come created a vicious atmosphere, where rule of law became of secondary importance.
Gandhi ji represented a unique personality amongst Hindus, who after a prolonged Muslim rule and British domination, needed an All Indian personage, at a time when they were sensing their dominance of India, after several centuries.
A sharp contrast was Jinnah, who utterly disliked the agitational mode. Even when maintaining a low profi le, he continued his quest to obtain rights for the Muslim community or Indians, in general.
The debates in the Council of States, where along with Motilal Nehru, he formed an independent group, were evidence of it. When the Nehru Report recommendations failed to satisfy Muslim demands, he formulated what became known as ‘Jinnah’s Fourteen Points’.
These demanded certain safeguards for the Muslims of India, but never advised Muslims to resort to undemocratic practices to press for their demands. The difference between the two leaders was their methods to promote their cause. Gandhi ji, not being in an official capacity in the INC over a longer period of time, always remained vague and non-committal as to various options on the road to independence.
Whereas Jinnah stood as a true politician and statesman who never for once deviated from principles for which he toiled, in the best interest of his community.
As time for independence approached especially in the 1940s, the role of Gandhi became increasingly irrelevant, as his own supporters seemed to be in a hurry to attain power, even eschewing desires to keep India united, as Gandhi initially wished. In case of Jinnah the opposite was true.
The fate of entire India depended on what he now stood for. He ultimately succeeded in convincing the world at large that Muslims of India constituted not a minority community but a separate nation entitled for a homeland of its own. However, on a personal level they respected each other.
Gandhi always praised Jinnah’s truthfulness. On January 30, 1948, Jinnah was shocked with dastardly act of a Hindu extremist and paid him glowing tributes as a great Hindu leader.
Besides Gandhi, one of the prominent adversaries of Jinnah was Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. He was a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth and belonged to a highly distinguished family of Kashmiri Pundits.
Being settled in Allahabad, educated at Cambridge and Inns of Court London, socialising with the very best of British society, Nehru was already exposed to the political stalwarts of the time, before starting his political career with the Indian National Congress in the 1920s.
Many believe that such an advantage made him arrogant and not very easily accommodating. During his earlier political career, Nehru came under the spell of Gandhi. This was however, limited to attire and some observance of Hindu rituals. In the company of socialists,
Fabians and other liberals, he represented a forward block in the Congress. Nehru’s and Jinnah’s paths were generally not crossed till movement for Pakistan took off in the 1940s.
However, signs of his nature were evident quite early. Especially during 1937 general election in United Provinces, an arrangement worked out by Maulana Azad on some seats with Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman and others, was sabotaged by Nehru, after favourable results for Congress party.
Similarly sometimes his actions and comments proved detrimental to his cause and that of his party. His comments regarding some agreed points of Cabinet Mission Plan, not only created a furor throughout India, but wrecked efforts to maintain some sort of unity of the subcontinent.
Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British Government representative, tasked with granting Independence to India by June 1948, assumed the role of Jinnah’s adversary.
When he became Viceroy in early 1947, he immediately started interacting with Indian leaders, Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah besides others.
It was generally observed that the Congress leaders, especially Nehru seemed to be more amenable to his views. So far as Jinnah was concerned, the Viceroy found him not best impressed by his credentials, hence not susceptible to his charms.
However, the viceroy was realistic enough to realise that the then prevailing situation of India needed immediate remedial measures including an acceptance of the demand for Pakistan.
Thus the date of granting independence was advanced from June 1948 to August 1947. The viceroy realised that he should somehow convince Congress leadership around the Partition Plan, which he successfully did.
However, against his expectations to be accepted as joint Governor General of both dominions of India and Pakistan, the Muslim League decided to accord this honour to Jinnah.
The general view is that Lord Mountbatten took it as a personal insult, creating hindrances in the smooth transfer of powers, division of assets etc. The interference in the Boundary Commission award and the delay in its announcement is one such example. However, Jinnah gracefully accepted what he referred to as a ‘truncated and moth-eaten Pakistan’.
It is due to this unjust boundary award that India got access to Kashmir, thereby creating a dispute between the two neighbours, which is still a pestering wound. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, referred often as ‘Muslim show-boy of the Congress’, by Jinnah, was also an antagonist. He was Mufassir-e-Quran and well-versed in Arabic, Persian and Urdu.
His weeklies Al-Hilal and Al-Balagh emphasised the ‘unity of ‘Ummah’ concept, perhaps for the fi rst time amongst its readers, generally the emerging Muslim generation for quite sometimes. So much so that Maulana Mahmood-ul-Hasan, acknowledged leader of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, wanted him to take charge of Jamiat, after him.
In one of its sessions, the idea was mooted. However, the move fell through, due to some minor objections. It was in a session held sometimes in early 1920s.
Surprisingly, it resulted in the fundamentalist Maulana Azad to drift from the Jamiat towards becoming a Nationalist Muslim. He not only joined the Hindu dominated Indian National Congress, but shunned his fundamentalist garb.
In sharp contrast, Jinnah, the erstwhile ‘Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity’ a western educated and mostly western attired personality became the ‘Quaid-i-Azam’ of Muslim India. As is evident, all his adversaries occupy prominent places in history.
However, to sum up in the words of Stanley Wolpert, “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three”.