Mohammed Ali Jinnah may be the most despised name and is considered deplorable in India for his Pakistan movement and for playing a pivotal role in bifurcating the erstwhile British India into two states — a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority Pakistan — using the notorious “Two-nation Theory”, which claimed that Hindus and Muslims are two nations rather than two heterogeneous communities and can’t live peacefully together.
Since 1947, when millions of Punjabis, Sindhis, Bengalis and different tribal groups were rendered refugees, following a very bloody communal riot instigated by the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha-RSS, Jinnah became a scorn in the eyes of those who became part of the newly-constituted Indian state and those who entered it as refugees, losing everything they had in a land that turned into a foreign country overnight. The refugees also despised the Congress for its compromise over the bifurcation deal and for instigating the refugee crisis itself.
Jinnah was held dear by the Pakistani ruling classes, the elite Ashrafi Muslims, the Punjabi Muslim feudal landlords and the comprador capitalists who got a chance to rule a territory of their own and exploit the labour without competing with the Hindu elites from Brahmanical upper-castes. In India too, the mass migration of Muslims allowed a section of the usurers and elites to seize control of their properties and land as well as exploit the cheap labour of the refugees. Being supportive of the Congress party, they thanked Jinnah for their fortune, although in silence. The economy of the partition helped in creating a new usurer class at both ends of what was called British India. They prospered at the cost of the agony of others. Some of them usurped properties, land and estate of those who fled, while the others usurped the political vacuum created by the exit of one dominant section at each end.
Though the Indian education system had taught students that Jinnah was pure evil and the “Two-nation Theory” is anti-secular, Indian Hindus and Muslims form a United nation, etc, during the Congress era, especially before the neo-liberal economic regime was established, the content changed, although quite subtly, over the years with the advent of the Hindutva fascism as a formidable political force. With the Congress and its so-called secularism, which was actually a branch of Hindutva fascism itself, waning under a severe existential crisis, the once-notorious “Two-nation Theory” found a new lease of oxygen in a changed circumstance. Now it’s the dominant theme in the education system that Muslims are evil and the Hindus are pious and entitled to rule India as they own it.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s rule, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is Hindutva fascism’s highest ideological body and paternal organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is building up a narrative in favour of the “Two-nation Theory”, which is now considered a very sacrosanct doctrine. Jinnah is proved right on each step by the RSS and the BJP through their extreme bigotry, promotion of Brahminical hegemony, violence against Muslims, Christians and other marginalised communities like Dalits, backward classes and tribal people. There is a reason behind them doing so.
Jinnah didn’t innovate the “Two-nation Theory” and was against any communal division of India until he enjoyed power and position within the Congress’s ruling elite. It was the advent of MK Gandhi, who was imported from South Africa by a lobby led by the Hindu arch-reactionary leaders, which threatened Jinnah’s position in the Congress and later, after much internal strife, pushed him to the Muslim League, an organisation he didn’t like before. Even though he was a man who had little to do with Islam or Muslims, Jinnah played the identity politics card at the height of anti-colonial sentiments to ensure that the thrust of people’s struggle against the British colonial rule, which was slowly moving away from the Congress towards the left, is disarrayed with communal bestiality.
Jinnah’s political moves were reflections of the comprador capitalist and the feudal landlord class’s fast-changing alignment during the great political upheaval in the pre and post Second World War period. The same could be said about the Congress, which also baked the bread in the oven of international contradictions and even experienced a split within the organisation over whether to support the Axis Power or the Allied Power in the Second World War. However, the Congress was the party of the Hindu feudal landlords and comprador capitalists, who had interests in a unified political entity like the British Indian territory, which would allow them an unbridled access to resources, labour and market for their products, and also provide them a greater bargaining power with the foreign monopoly-finance capital that would seek control of such resources and labour. The contradiction between two groups of the bourgeoisie, over the question of hegemony and influence, acted as a catalyst in the division of the country.
The Indian comprador capitalists and the feudal landlords couldn’t forgive Jinnah for what he took away from them, so they have vilified him through a one-sided assessment. Yet, one section of the Indian bourgeoisie, the arch-reactionary and exclusionist ones, with their feudal allies, always hailed Jinnah for what he did. They are today in power, with Modi and his BJP as their chief representatives.
What makes these bourgeoisie and feudal landlords happy about British India’s partition?
Unlike the mainstream comprador capitalists who were born out of the womb of the British colonial rule and transformed under British patronage from mercantile to industrial capitalists, that too to support the British imperialism with raw materials and ancillaries, a section of the comprador bourgeoisie, who were earlier mere “interest earners” and also acted as hoarders and black marketers, got a lot to usurp during the partition. In the post-partition era, they adopted cronyism to grow their enterprise, especially after the Indian economy was liberalised in 1992.
The likes of Reliance, Adani Group, Vedanta, Sun Pharmaceuticals, etc, grew during the post-liberalisation era. Most of them, especially the Adani Group, grew in direct proportion with the fate of the BJP in Gujarat and national politics. The Reliance Group and other such pro-Hindutva forces had been staunch enemies of the Congress party-led government under Indira Gandhi during the 1960s and the 1970s when India was mortgaged to the Soviet Union and turned into a satellite state of Moscow. While the big barons like Tatas, Birlas, etc, stood strongly with the Congress and became major beneficiaries of the so-called Nehruvian socialism, the Reliance and other groups wanted a liberalised economy since the 1970s and were supported by the US and its big corporations for the same reason.
No wonder, the late Dhirubhai Ambani, who founded the Reliance Group, was close to the Janata Party that won power riding on the anti-emergency protests and the RSS’s support in 1977. Now the Modi regime works to serve the cause of these selected crony-comprador capitalists instead of all comprador capitalist blocks, which creates a situation where a lot of political opposition is raised over Modi’s fascism, which is more crude and obnoxious than the Congress’s is called out because it leaves the interests of the majority of the comprador capitalists for a handful of arch-reactionary crony-comprador allies.
Now, back to Jinnah, he didn’t innovate the “Two-nation Theory”. Actually, it was Hindu revivalists of the Arya Samaj movement and the Bengali upper-caste Hindu elitists who had invented the presence of two distinct nations in Hindus and Muslims, though both being non-homogenous entities in colonial India. In an article published in Sabrang India, Shamsul Islam has shown the genesis of the notorious “Two-nation Theory”, which led to the partition of British India. Citing historical references, he showed that the “Two-nation Theory” had Hindu roots.
Yet, it’s a taboo for the Sangh Parivar under the RSS, whose ideologue VD Savarkar — an accused in the assassination of Gandhi — had proposed the same doctrine in the Hindu Mahasabha’s meeting in 1937. Though Savarkar didn’t explicitly ask for a partition in his writings and speeches, he did support the case of Pakistan and made his Hindu Mahasabha an alliance partner of the Muslim League in the provincial of assemblies of Bengal, Sindh, etc and opposed the Quit India Movement of the Congress party. Savarkar’s crypto support to the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan was seen in the vociferous advocation of Bengal’s partition on communal grounds done by Syama Prosad Mookerjee, the founder of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, which was the precursor of the BJP, during his Hindu Mahasabha days.
Savarkar strongly believed in Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s declaration that the Hindus and Muslims can’t rule the country together and one must subjugate the other to become the dominant ruler. His ideology spoke about degrading the status of the Muslims, turning them into second-class citizens after the Hindus, ie the Brahminical upper-castes of the Sanatan Dharma, to receive the power baton from the British colonial rulers. This indeed fuelled the demand for a separate Pakistan, as the Muslim fanatics used such statements to instil fear of a Hindu theocracy in the minds of the Muslims. It helped them in advocating for the cause of a separate Pakistan, of which Jinnah became the mask.
Today, the ideology of Jinnah and Savarkar has returned as the mainstream one in India. By calling out the Muslims as enemies and allowing the Hindutva-incensed fanatics to run a mob lynching show targeting hapless Muslims, the Indian Hindutva fascist Modi regime has been trying to prove Jinnah right on the question of Muslim persecution and backwardness in a Hindu-dominated India. By flushing out the secular characteristics of the Indian Constitution and laws to allow a free reign to the Hindutva fascists, the Modi regime is trying to make the Muslims feel utmost insecure in their homeland. Even though the Congress party’s repression on the Muslims was never less, yet, with the unapologetic standpoint on Hindutva fascism and Islamophobia, the Modi regime and the BJP has crossed all previous threshold of persecution and repression of the Muslims and other marginalised communities like the Christians, Dalits and tribal people.
The sole reason behind the Modi regime’s endorsement towards this hyper-fanaticism and extremism is to force the Indian Muslims to believe the “Two-nation Theory” and force many of them to leave their land, assets and livelihood, which can become spoils of war for many Hindutva fascist champions. If another repatriation can be triggered in the present times, it will serve the political optics in a big way, as well as, provide the BJP with a means to motivate and encourage the grassroots communal mobsters. It will give them the right to usurp the properties of the uprooted Muslims on the one hand, while on the other hand, it will give their theory a morale booster that the Muslims have no affinity towards the Indian nationhood, which will snowball against the Muslims of other regions of the country as well.
No wonder, Lal Krishna Advani, the Hindutva fascist mastermind of the Babri Masjid demolition, went to Pakistan and praised Jinnah as “secular” leader. Ironically, Advani was accused in an FIR in Karachi for an attempt to assassinate Jinnah! The praises from the RSS’s devout soldier Advani are also the content embedded in the hearts of all other Hindutva fascist politicians including Modi and his coterie, who have gained immensely due to the creation of Pakistan, which helped the Hindutva camp to survive and rally the Hindu upper-caste elites and middle class under its banner peddling xenophobia by linking Indian Muslims with Pakistan and Jinnah.
As Pakistan will pay homage to Jinnah on 14th August, and also claim its right over the slice of Kashmir that India occupies by citing the “Two-nation Theory” an emboldened BJP and the RSS will continue to persecute the Indian Muslims and dehumanise them continuously for their identity in an increasingly Brahminised state. The existence of Pakistan and the boisterous mob of Hindutva fascists rampaging on the streets of India with anti-Muslim slurs as their war-cry, each of them are dependent on each other. Without Hindutva, the existence of the Muslim League wasn’t possible, and without the doctrine of a separate Muslim homeland, the doctrine of Hindutva fascism can’t rally the entire upper-caste, privileged, elite and urban middle-class communities under its flag. So Jinnah, despite being a much-despised name in the common parlance, remains the beloved soul of Hindutva fascists, who can’t thank him, as well as the likes of Savarkar, enough for their contribution towards the growth of Hindutva fascism in India along with Islamophobia.