– Jalal’s Thesis Essay, Research Paper
“A nationalist who preferred constitutional methods, Jinnah’s moderation in politics was tactical, not strategic; he recognized the need to keep inarticulate, but potentially disruptive communal passions at bay. There was nothing mendicant about his approach. Proud, with an assurance painfully constructed in difficult circumstances, he was never prepared to compromise over principles and had little liking for India’s white masters with whom he never felt wholly at ease. A pragmatic politician, he realistically gauged how much the British were ready to concede at this juncture and reluctantly accepted separate electorates as a fact of political life for the time being, but not necessarily for all time.” (Jalal, 1985)
Jinnah always asserted that he was a nationalist at heart, that he only had the interests of his community at heart. Jinnah’s politics were tactical, he knew that he wanted to be a leader and he wouldn’t let anyone get in his way. Jinnah had the idea of a two-nations theory, one for Hindus and one for Muslims, in every speech he tried to subtly express the differences between the two groups. He also believed in communalism and during the Congress days he tried to spread his influence within Congress. Jinnah was a tall man compared to most Indians and his ego was just as big. He had spent his whole life fighting for his principles. Even when the British tried to bribe him with appointments he turned those down.
In order to provide sufficient evidence to support Ayesha Jalal’s assertion of Jinnah, he must first, explain “Jinnah” and what made him the person he was. Also, prove how Jinnah was tactical instead of strategic in his methods. Next, he must give evidence of Jinnah’s unwillingness to compromise with the “white masters.” Last, what kind of politician was Jinnah and what made him that way.
Ayesha Jalal argues some of these points in his thesis to support his claim of Jinnah as a tactical person. “By the late nineteen-twenties the demands of the Muslim provinces, the Punjab in particular, had swamped Jinnah’s centralist strategy. Jinnah, the nationalist concerned with securing a share of power for Muslims at a strong center, had to recognize the forces of provincialism and appear to come out in favor of a weak federal structure. But this was a tactical concession, not a modification of his ultimate objective. A confirmed centralist, Jinnah was merely seeking a way of uniting the Muslims behind a common line and then negotiating a joint front with the Congress against the British.”
Another quote, “In October 1934, Jinnah was re-elected to the central assembly. There he attempted to win support among Congress members to strengthen his claim to be a national leader in his won right, the Muslim Members to strengthen his claim to be a national leader in his own right, and a spokesman of Muslim interests with a standing greater than that of the Muslim Conference. By broadening the basis of the League and following his old tactic of coming to terms with the Congress agreement to the fact of Muslim majorities in the Punjab and Bengal, but to do so without losing his position as the voice of minority Muslim interests.” This quote shows that Jinnah was in fact “proud” and “he was never prepared to compromise over principles.”
Jinnah was for communalism; this quote proves his beliefs for this. “The first elections under the 1935 Act with an extended franchise would make it possible to test British assumptions and the claims of the Muslim leadership about communal unity against the irrefutable evidence of the polls- irrefutable because Muslims had their separate electorates and did not have to face any competition from the non-Muslims.” Further evidence of his struggle for communalism was found in this statement. “Jinnah’s Central Parliamentary Board set up to nominate Muslim candidates throughout India was another challenge to the Muslim leaders in the majority provinces. Declaring that all Muslim candidates must run on communal tickets alone was throwing the gauntlet down to the old parties, particularly the Unionists in the Punjab, and also such cross-communal groups as the Prajas in Bengal and the Agriculturist “party” in the League’s home base.”
“In Fazl-I-Husain’s opinion, Jinnah’s tactics were an “utter failure”. A mere handful of “miscellaneous urbanites like Iqbal, Shuja, Barkat Ali, have naturally been trying to make something out of this’; Jinnah simply could “talk and talk and talk”; he had done nothing to revive the provincial League in the Punjab, or taken even the most elementary steps that any ‘ordinary practical man’ would have done if he wanted a base in the districts.” Even though this statement was made by Fazi-I-Husain, it was only to persuade a group to don the League cap in the Central Parliamentary Board. But it should be noticed that he was a good talker and excelled at saying what the people wanted to hear.
This is as far as Jalal went on proving his argument. He supported most of his claims effectively, but there were some points that were excluded that I thought should have been there. He did not speak much of the British and what their relationship was like. He could of expanded a little more on that point. He should have also gone further in depth when explaining Jinnah’s personality. More of his characteristics and how he became that type of person are also necessary to understand his thesis.
In my conclusion of this thesis, I believe the author provides evidence on most of his claims, but he should have elaborated on the others as well. Jinnah was a multi-faceted, multi-talented intellectual mind of his time. He just wasn’t sincere in communicating his true desires, which was to be a dictator. He once remarked, “Make me the dictator, put matters into my hand and I shall show you whether I cannot fill every high post in the land with efficient Muslims.” His fascist views ring through in these words. This is one-way Jalal failed, it is not just important to know what he accomplished in his life, but who he was, is of concern as well.
Here is more evidence that I found to support my conclusion. You will find evidence of Jinnah’s personality both negative and positive. Jinnah’s greatest drawback has been his craving to be in the forefront of all activities. He is not the type of person to climb to the top by hard work. The waiting is intolerable for him, and he lacks the modesty that comes naturally from great leaders. He was egotistical, for him there is nobody and nothing dearer to him than his personal vanity. People become carried away, momentarily, under the brilliance of the clever lawyer, but they soon recognize that every thing he said was false. In speaking, he holds the power of convincing his audience, of focusing their attention on the force of his assertions, but there is the sensation of hearing a brilliant advocate giving truth and plausibility to arguments, which are obviously incorrect. Through all this the one thing that is missing in Jinnah is “the personal touch.” Caring about the people genuinely.
Jinnah’s role as a politician appears to be spectacular. People associate Jinnah, quite unconsciously, with something stupendous, whether constructive or destructive. He sets out to dazzle his audience and can’t stand to work in obscurity. “It is the implication of his own superiority, greater intellect, and better knowledge that lurks behind his conversations. He imbuses one with the idea that the only comment worth hearing is Jinnah’s, the only sound argument advanced is by Jinnah, and the best conclusions arrived at are by Jinnah.” This quote further emphasizes Jinnah’s personality and would be necessary in the above argument.
His frank expressions of his policy are refreshing I their absolute freedom; he conceals nothing of what he has set out to do and declares freely that he thinks the Congress is responsible for all the evils in India. He tries to convince his audience, and perhaps himself too, that he has made a vast and comprehensive study of the problems in this country, and that they cannot be compared with those of any other nation. This is true, but these difficulties must be dealt with by collaboration, not by one single person. This he will not concede. “Equality and fraternity” came glibly to his lips; he insinuates that his is the creed of tolerance, but even while he speaks there runs through his words a thread of insincerity, for he can speak only in terms of Hindu and Muslim, not of India and Indians. While speaking, at the psychological moment, he inserts his poison of “two vast groups utterly different in everything.” This was what Jinnah wanted, two separate nations.
The British Government never took Jinnah seriously enough to consider restricting his activities. His violent criticisms, his elocution and thundering speeches were a bit of a nuisance to them, but that was all; he was too constitutional to be ever dangerous to the interest of Imperialism. Even having said that the British knew that it would be beneficial to have such a man on their side, but Jinnah would never give in to the British. This quote shows Jinnah’s beliefs and his convictions to his principles. “For, to his eternal credit, be it said that through his entire public life and career he has never sold his principles in return for favors done to him. The British government determined that every man has his price, if only one is willing to pay it. With an eye to harnessing Jinnah to the cause of bureaucracy he was offered a judgeship in the Bombay High Court, which he refused. Thinking it to be not a big enough bribe, they offered him the post of Advocate-General, with private practice. But they were mistaken; Jinnah refused this also, and made them understand that he scorned to sacrifice his beliefs for such rewards.” (Sen 1939) This statement gives the view the British had of Jinnah as a formidable opponent to the rule and should have been included in Jalal argument when writing about how Jinnah hated the British.
I agree with Jalal’s thesis as a whole. As stated in my conclusion he lacks a few important details that might have given the reader more insight into the mind and attitude of Jinnah. Once again, this is what was necessary to provide sufficient evidence to support Ayesha Jalal’s assertion of Jinnah, he must first, explain “Jinnah” and what made him the person he was. Also, prove how Jinnah was tactical instead of strategic in his methods. Next, he must give evidence of Jinnah’s unwillingness to compromise with the “white masters.” Last, what kind of politician was Jinnah and what made him that way. This is as far as Jalal went on proving his argument. He supported most of his claims effectively, but there were some points that were excluded that I thought should have been there. He did not speak much of the British and what their relationship was like. He could of expanded a little more on that point. He should have also gone further in depth when explaining Jinnah’s personality. A better understanding of his characteristics and how he became that type of person are also necessary to interpret his thesis.
1. Jalal, Ayesha. The Sole Spokesman, Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, 1985.
2. Sen, Ela. Testament of India, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1939