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Congress Ministries (1937-1939)

Congress Ministries (1937-1939)

Even though Muslim League and Congress were against the Government of India Act 1935, yet it was implemented in the winter of 1937. Now, what lay before them was the task of persuading their concerned masses to support them in the upcoming elections. But Muslim League, which stood for separate electorates, was unfortunately divided in several factions owing to personal and ideological differences. Congress, on the other hand, was raising slogans of joint electorates. Congress also wanted Hindi to be declared as the official language in the Deva Nagri script, while Muslims were in favour of Urdu in Persian script to be officially declared as the national language of the Indian sub-continent.

 

The result of elections came as a huge shock to both the parties. Congress, who claimed to be representing 95% of the total Indian population, could not even secure 40% of the seats. It won almost 750 seats out of 1,771 in 8 out of 11 provinces. Its success was restricted to Hindu-majority provinces only. As for the results for the Muslim League, they were greatly disappointing. Out of 491 Muslim seats, it could only capture 106 and 26 of them were taken by Congress. Hence, the final success of the elections was named in the favour of Congress, which gained majority in Bihar, Orissa, Madras and U.P and other regions.

 

The Congress didn’t set up ministries for about four months demanding British government to not interfere in its legislative affairs. Discussions between them took place, and at last, the British agreed without making any formal amendment to the Government of India Act 1935. As a result of which, Congress ministries were formed in July 1937 but with bitter policy against Muslims: Hindi became the national language, Congress flag became the national flag, and Bande Matram became the national anthem. A strict prohibition was laid on cow slaughter and singing of Bande Matram, taken from the novel of Chandra Chatterji, was started in schools. Construction of new mosques was banned and Muslims were harassed while they offered prayers.

 

Twenty-seven months of Congress rule were characterized by rising political Hinduism, which seemed to be working only for the welfare of Hindu community and revenging the previous 700-year Muslim rule over them, as stated by some Congress leaders. Educational reforms were introduced that were purely anti-Muslim in spirit. The purpose of Warda Taleemi Scheme was to displace the idea of two nation theory from minds of Muslim children, while Vidya Mandar Scheme aimed at promoting Hindu culture by making Mandar education necessary at elementary level. Muslims were also kept back in economic circle. They were expelled from government offices and career opportunities were closed for them. Their trade and agriculture was a target of Hindu’s harm, and they couldn’t appeal justice which already had Hindu imprints upon it. As a result, and to nobody’s surprise but huge dismay, massive Hindu-Muslim riots took place.

 

Several reports such as “Pirpur Report”, “Muslim Sufferings under Congress Rule”, and “The Sharif Report” were issued by Muslims leaders to give word and voice to the injustice and cruelty they were receiving under Congress reign, and they found expression in newspapers.

 

When World War II started in 1939, the British were fighting against the Axis Powers. The Viceroy of India announced India’s involvement without consulting its representative political leaders. Congress asked for transfer of power in repayment of their cooperation in war, which the British government denied. As a result, Congress ministries resigned. Thus came to an end the nightmarish rule which had terrorized Muslim community beyond imagination. Quaid-i-Azam asked the Muslims to observe it as a ‘Day of Deliverance’ with peace and without any harmful intent towards any other nation. Prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude were offered and Muslims took a sigh of relief from the atrocities committed against them in the two-year Congress rule.

 

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