“For me religion is one in essence, but it has many branches and if I, the Hindu branch, fail in my duty to the parent trunk, I am an unworthy follower of that one indivisible, visible religion…. My nationalism and my religion are not exclusive, but inclusive and they must be so consistently with the welfare of life.” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wrote to Sir Samuel Hoare, the Secretary of State for India, in September 1932, on the eve of his fast to death against granting separate electorates for the untouchables. Earlier, on March 11, 1932, he had warned Hoare: “So far as Hinduism is concerned, separate electorates would simply vivisect and disrupt it. For me the question of these classes is predominantly moral and religious. The political aspect, important though it is, dwindles into insignificance compared to the moral and religious issues.” In a letter to Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald in September 1932, Gandhi wrote: “In the establishment of separate electorates at all for the ‘depressed classes’, I sense the injection of poison that is calculated to destroy Hinduism.”
To William Shirer, the famous American writer, Gandhi wrote on September 23, 1932: “Americans should know that my politics are derived from my religion.” (See William Gould; “The U.P. Congress and ‘Hindu Unity’: Untouchables and the Minority Question in the 1930s”; Modern Asian Studies; Volume 39, 2005; pages 845-860.)
With such an outlook, a clash with Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was inevitable. Clash they did, directly, sharply and in person at the Round Table Conference in London. Back in India, they arrived at a compromise on reservation of seats and signed the famous Poona Pact on September 24, 1932, to enable Gandhi to call off his fast.
Ambedkar was under great pressure and was none too happy about his climbdown. As if this and the clash in London were not enough, there came to light a singularly sordid stratagem by Gandhi in London—he offered to concede the demands of the Muslim Delegation, led by the Aga Khan, if it supported him in his opposition to Ambedkar’s demand for separate electorates for the untouchables. The Muslims refused. The offer was made in writing in a document dated October 6, 1931.
The clash is well recorded in the proceedings of the Committees of the Round Table Conference reproduced in Volume 2 of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches (compiled and edited by Vasant Moon, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra) and in Ambedkar’s work What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables (Bombay 1945). It has the added advantage of Ambedkar’s personal testimony about the proceedings of the conference, which was inaugurated on November 12, 1930, by King George V. Nine committees were set up, including the Minorities Committee (Chapter III, “A Mean Deal”). Another was the Federal Structure Committee.
The Congress boycotted the first session of the conference. As a result of the pact between Lord Irwin and Gandhi on March 5, 1931, Gandhi participated in the second session as the sole representative of the Congress. The first session had agreed on representation of “the Depressed Classes”.
Ambedkar is scathing about Gandhi’s performance. “Everybody was therefore looking forward to the Congress to lead the Conference [at the second session] to success. Unfortunately, the Congress chose Mr Gandhi as its representative. A worse person could not have been chosen to guide India’s destiny. As a unifying force he was a failure. Mr Gandhi presents himself as a man full of humility. But his behaviour at the Round Table Conference showed that in the flush of victory, Mr Gandhi can be very petty, indeed. As a result of his successful compromise with the Government just before he came, Mr Gandhi treated the whole non-Congress delegation with contempt. He insulted them whenever an occasion furnished him with an excuse by openly telling them that they were nobodies and that he alone, as the delegate of the Congress, represented the country. Instead of unifying the Indian delegation, Mr Gandhi widened the breach. From the point of view of knowledge, Mr Gandhi proved himself to be a very ill-equipped person. On the many constitutional and communal questions with which the Conference was confronted, Mr Gandhi had many platitudes to utter but no views or suggestions of a constructive character to offer. He presented a curious complex of a man who in some cases would threaten to resist in every possible way any compromise on what he regarded as a principle though others regarded it as a pure prejudice but in other cases would not mind making the worst compromises on issues which appeared to others as matters of fundamental principle on which no compromise should be made. Mr Gandhi’s attitude to the demands of the Untouchables at the second session of the Round Table Conference furnishes the best illustration of this rather queer trait in his character.”
In the meeting of the Federal Structure Committee held on the September 17, 1931, Gandhi said: “The Congress has reconciled itself to special treatment of the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh tangle. There are sound historical reasons for it but the Congress will not extend that doctrine in any shape or form…. Therefore I would most strongly resist any further special representation.”
Ambedkar remarks: “This was nothing but a declaration of a War by Mr Gandhi and the Congress against the Untouchables. In any case, it resulted in a war between the two. After this declaration by Mr Gandhi, I knew what he would do in the Minorities Committee which was the main forum for the discussion of this question. Mr Gandhi was making his plans to bypass the Untouchables and to close the communal problem by bringing about a settlement among the three parties, the Hindus, the Muslims and the Sikhs. He had been carrying on negotiations privately with the Muslims before the Minorities Committee met” (emphasis added, throughout).
There was a proposal to adjourn for talks outside. Ambedkar objected: “Those who are negotiating ought to understand that they are not plenipotentiaries appointed by the Committee to negotiate a settlement; that whatever may be the representative character of Mr Gandhi or of the other parties with whom he wishes to negotiate, they certainly are not in a position to bind us—certainly not.”
The Chairman said: “Do not let there be any misunderstanding. This is the body before which the final settlement must come, and the suggestion is merely that if there are minorities or communities that hitherto have been in conflict with each other they should use a short time for the purpose of trying to overcome their difficulties. Dr Ambedkar’s position has been made absolutely clear; in his usual splendid way he has left no doubt at all about it, and that will come up when this body resumes its discussion.”
Gandhi told Ambedkar when they met in India before the conference that he was opposed to separate recognition for the untouchables and stuck to this position in London. Ambedkar, therefore, refused to acquiesce in an adjournment for talks or join a committee unless that recognition was granted. “I do want to say this, that if I am to be left out in the cold and if this interval is going to be utilised for the purposes of solving the Hindu-Muslim question, I would press that the Minorities Committee should itself grapple with the question and consider it, rather than allow the question to be dealt with by some other informal Committee for arriving at a solution of the communal question in respect of some minorities only.”
Gandhi replied: “Who am I to deny political status to any single interest or class or even individual in India? As a representative of the Congress I should be unworthy of the trust that has been reposed in me by the Congress if I were guilty of sacrificing a single national interest. I have undoubtedly given expression to my own views on these points.”
The meeting held outside the conference, presided over by Gandhi, was a fiasco. He dissolved it before discussing Ambedkar’s case. On October 8, 1931, when the Minorities Committee met, Gandhi said that a solution would follow independence. Ambedkar replied in anguish: “What disturbs me after hearing Mr Gandhi is that instead of confining himself to his proposition, namely, that the Minorities Committee should adjourn sine die, he started casting certain reflections upon the representatives of the different communities who are sitting round this table. He said that the Delegates were nominees of the Government, and that they did not represent the views of their respective communities for whom they stood. We cannot deny the allegation that we are nominees of the Government, but, speaking for myself, I have not the slightest doubt that even if the Depressed Classes of India were given the chance of electing their representatives to this Conference, I would, all the same, find a place here. I say therefore that whether I am a nominee or not, I fully represent the claims of my community. Let no man be under the mistaken impression as regards that.
“The Mahatma has been always claiming that the Congress stands for the Depressed Classes, and that the Congress represents the Depressed Classes more than I or my colleague can do. To that claim I can only say that it is one of the many false claims which irresponsible people keep on making, although the persons concerned with regard to those claims have been invariably denying them.”
Meanwhile, the minorities had arrived at a pact. “Mr Gandhi was furious. He attacked everybody who had taken part in producing the Minorities Pact. He was particularly furious for the recognition given to the Untouchables as a separate political entity. This is what Mr Gandhi said: I would like to repeat what I have said before, that, while the Congress will always accept any solution that may be acceptable to the Hindus, the Muhammadans and the Sikhs, Congress will be no party to the special electorates for any other minorities. … One word more as to the so-called Untouchables. I can understand the claims advanced by other minorities, but the claims advanced on behalf of the Untouchables, that time is the unkindest cut of all.… It will create a division in Hinduism which I cannot possibly look forward to with any satisfaction whatsoever. I do not mind Untouchables, if they so desire, being converted to Islam or Christianity. I should tolerate that, but I cannot possibly tolerate what is in store for Hinduism if there are two divisions set forth in the villages.’”
Now about Gandhi’s offer to the Muslims. The first to reveal it was the great poet Iqbal who had attended the conference. Provoked by Nehru’s remarks on the Muslims’ attitude at the conference, Iqbal said in a statement on December 6, 1933: “I have never had the pleasure of meeting Pandit Jawaharlal, though I have always admired his sincerity and outspokenness. His latest statement in reply to his Mahasabhite critics has a ring of sincerity which is rare in the pronouncements of present-day politicians in India. It seems, however, that he is not in full possession of the facts regarding the behaviour of Muslim delegates to the Round Table Conference held in London during the past three years.…
“The truth, however, is that it was the Aga Khan himself who assured Mr Gandhi in the presence of several Indian delegates, including myself, that if the Hindus or the Congress agreed to Muslim demands, the entire Muslim community would be ready to serve as his (Mr Gandhi’s) camp-followers in the political struggle.
“Mr Gandhi weighed the Aga Khan’s words and his offer to accept Muslim demands came later and was hedged around with two conditions. The first condition was that Mr Gandhi would accept the Muslim demands in his personal capacity and would try to secure, but not guarantee, the acceptance of his position by the Congress.…
“Mr Gandhi’s second and most unrighteous condition was that Muslims should not support the special claims of Untouchables, particularly their claim to special representation. It was pointed out to him that it did not lie in the mouth of Muslims to oppose those very claim on the part of the Untouchables which they were advancing for themselves and that if Mr Gandhi could arrive at a mutual understanding with the Untouchables the Muslims would certainly not stand in their way. Mr Gandhi, however, insisted on this condition. I should like to know how far Pandit Jawaharlal with his well-known socialist views would sympathise with such an inhuman condition. This is the inner history of the negotiations between Mr Gandhi and Muslim delegates.” (Speeches and Statements of Iqbal; ed. Shamloo; Al-Manav Academy, Lahore; 1944; pages 190-192.)
Settlement with Muslims
Ambedkar published the full text of the document in 1940 in his seminal work Thoughts on Pakistan (1941), Appendix X (pages 364-365), with a footnote. “This document is coming to light for the first time. It embodies the efforts made by Mr Gandhi at the Second R.T.C. to bring about a communal settlement with the Muslims. It was circulated among the Muslim delegates. The author was able to secure a copy from a Hindu delegate who was acting with the Muslim Delegates at the R.T.C. Mr Gandhi failed to reach an agreement with the Muslims. All the same the document is both interesting and instructive. It reveals the ways and means adopted by Mr Gandhi to reach an agreement with the Muslims. Proposal No. 2 of Mr Gandhi is very significant. It shows that Mr Gandhi was prepared to give everything to the Muslims on condition that the Muslims agreed to side with him in opposing the claims of the Depressed Classes, the Indian Christians and the Anglo-Indians for special representation. Heretofore people only knew of the Minorities Pact tendered to the R.T.C. which was decried as being antinational. They did not know that Mr Gandhi was also engaged in forging a pact the object of which was to defeat with the help of the Muslims the just claims of the smaller minorities.”
In a statement issued in New Delhi on December 13, 1933, Gandhi gave his version: “What Sir Mohammed Iqbal calls two conditions attended to my personal acceptance of the Muslim demands were no conditions but the necessary consequence of my acceptance. Political unity was desired for political end which for me as for any Indian be a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian or any other, could only be complete national independence in the fullest sense of the term. The Muslim demands were presented for arriving at common action. The Muslim friends in London were playing other minorities against vital national interest. If they accepted me as their ally, as I offered to be in uttermost sincerity, my alliance could only be for combating every force that was inimical to India’s freedom. It was, therefore, necessary to fight the spirit of separateness no matter from what source it arose. No Muslim had defended separate electorates as a thing good in itself. Even in their case the Muslim friends had admitted it as a necessary evil to be tolerated for a temporary period.
“The doctrine, therefore, did not admit of indefinite extension. The demand put forth on behalf of the so-called untouchables was clearly anti-national” (The Tribune; December 15, 1933).
Gandhi did not contest the fact of his condition; nor the genuineness of the document published by Ambedkar in 1940 and again in 1945 in his book What Congress And Gandhi Have Done To The Untouchables. The text is as follows:
MUSLIM DELEGATION TO THE ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE
Tel. Victoria 2360
Telegrams: “Courtlike” London.
57, St. James’ Court,
LONDON, S.W. I.
6th October, 1931.
The following proposals were discussed by Mr Gandhi and the Muslim Delegation at 10 p.m. last night. They are divided into two parts—the proposals made by the Muslims for safeguarding their rights, and the proposals made by Mr Gandhi regarding the Congress policy. They are given herewith as approved by Mr Gandhi, and placed for submission to the Muslim Delegation for their opinion.
1. In the Punjab and Bengal bare majority of one per cent of Musalmans, but the question of whether it should be by means of joint electorates and reservation of 51 per cent of the whole house, or separate electorates with 51 per cent seats in the whole house should be referred to the Musalman voters before the new constitution comes into force and their verdict should be accepted.
2. In other provinces where the Musalmans are in a minority the present weightage enjoyed by them to continue, but whether the seats should be reserved to a joint electorate, or whether they should have separate electorates should be determined by the Musalman voters by a referendum under the new constitution, and their verdict should be accepted.
3. That the Musalman representatives to the Central Legislature in both the houses should be 26 per cent of the total number of the British India representatives, and 7 per cent at least by convention should be Musalmans, out of the quota that may be assigned to Indian States, that is to say, one-third of the whole house when taken together.
4. That the residency power should vest in the federating Provinces of British India.
5. That the other points as follows being agreed to: (1) Sindh, (2) N.W.F.P. [North-West Frontier Province], (3) Services, (4) Cabinet, (5) Fundamental rights and safeguards for religion and culture, (6) Safeguards against legislation affecting any community.
MR GANDHI’S PROPOSALS
1. That the Franchise should be on the basis of adult suffrage.
2. No special reservations to any other community save Sikhs and Hindu minorities.
3. The Congress demands: (A) Complete independence, (B) Complete control over the defence immediately, (C) Complete control over external affairs, (D) Complete control over finance, (E) Investigation of public debts and other obligations by an independent tribunal, (F) As in the case of a partnership, right of either party to terminate it.”
Gandhi was an unforgiving man. On August 1, 1946, he wrote to Vallabhbhai Patel from Poona: “I have not been able to answer your letter fully. The main problem is about Ambedkar. I see a risk in coming to any sort of understanding with him, for he has told me in so many words that for him there is no distinction between violence and non-violence. He follows one single principle, viz. to adopt any means which will serve his purpose. One has to be very careful indeed when dealing with a man who would become a Christian, Muslim or Sikh and then be reconverted according to his convenience. There is much more I could write in the same strain. To my mind it is all a snare. It is a ‘catch’. Besides, it is not necessary for him at present to insist on 20 p.c. If India becomes independent in the real sense—the provinces to some extent are—and if the caste Hindus are true to themselves, all will be well. If we negotiate with Ambedkar out of fear of the [Muslim] League we are likely to lose on both the fronts” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; Volume 85, page 102). It is unthinkable that Ambedkar would have uttered those words—and to a political adversary. Gandhi’s imagination played havoc with him. Maulana Azad received the same treatment. In a letter to Nehru on July 24, 1947, Gandhi wrote: “I did not say anything yesterday about the Maulana Saheb. But my objection stands. His retiring from the Cabinet should not affect our connection with him. There are many positions which he can occupy in public life without any harm to any cause. Sardar [Patel] is decidedly against his membership in the Cabinet and so is Rajkumari [Amrit Kaur]. Your Cabinet must be strong and effective at the present juncture. It should not be difficult to name another Muslim for the Cabinet” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; Volume 88; page 408). Thus, if Gandhi had had his way, Azad would have been excluded from independent India’s first Cabinet—a reward for life-long support to the Congress. Nehru rejected the advice.
Ambedkar on Gandhi and Jinnah
Mohammad Ali Jinnah cited Thoughts on Pakistan to Gandhi, during their talks in Bombay in September 1944, and in his letter to Gandhi of September 17, 1944. Ambedkar spared neither of the two in the lectures he delivered in January 18, 1943, which were published under the title Ranade, Gandhi & Jinnah. “It would be difficult to find two persons who would rival them for their colossal egotism, to whom personal ascendency is everything and the cause of the country a mere counter on the table. They have made Indian politics a matter of personal feud. Consequences have no terror for them; indeed they do not occur to them until they happen. When they do happen they either forget the cause, or if they remember it, they overlook it with a complacency which saves them from any remorse. They choose to stand on a pedestal of splendid isolation. They wall themselves off from their equals. They prefer to open themselves to their inferiors. They are very unhappy at and impatient of criticism, but are very happy to be fawned upon by flunkeys. Both have developed a wonderful stagecraft and arrange things in such a way that they are always in the limelight wherever they go. Each of course claims to be supreme. If supremacy was their only claim, it would be a small wonder. In addition to supremacy, each claims infallibility for himself. Pius IX during whose sacred regime as Pope the issue of infallibility was raging said–‘Before I was Pope I believed in Papal infallibility, now I feel it.’ This is exactly the attitude of the two leaders whom Providence—may I say in his unguarded moments— has appointed to lead us.”
What Ambedkar called “this rather queer trait” in Gandhi’s character surfaced repeatedly. The Viceroy Lord Irwin with whom he concluded the famous pact that enabled him to attend the Round Table Conference, notified it. So did others like the writer Patrick French and the Viceroys, Wavell and Mountbatten.
So did M.C. Setalvad in his biography of Bhulabhai Desai. Citing Gandhi’s letter to Bhulabhai, Setalvad remarked: “The saint politician exhibits himself in this letter as possessed of all the arts of politics and of sweet reasonableness. … It is amply clear that the action of the Working Committee in excluding Bhulabhai from the legislature had Gandhi’s complete support. Indeed the letter seems to have been a skilful attempt at persuading Bhulabhai to make a public statement that he did not desire to enter the Assembly so that the pressure of public opinion which was being brought to bear upon the Sardar and Gandhi to make him a Congress candidate may cease.” Setalvad published photocopies of Desai’s pact with Liaquat Ali Khan which proved that it had Gandhi’s full support. Bhulabhai was wronged by Gandhi (Bhulabhai Desai, Publications Division, 1968, p. 291).
Setalvad rendered a service by publishing Stafford Cripps’ letter to Bhulabhai dated March 27, 1945. It contained a truth which Ambedkar had repeatedly pressed the Congress to accept. “I am more than ever convinced that we have got to use a great deal of inventiveness as regards to the new Constitution for India, since our methods of Western democracy are not I believe suitable to so large and densely populated a country as India, or to the communal situation which tends to make permanent the majority and the minority. The consent of the minority in our form of democracy depends upon the hope that one day it will become the majority through change of political views. Where, however, the differences are social or religious there is not that same reason for consent by the minority and I believe that we must invent some new means by which we can assure it.”
K.M. Munshi’s memoirs Pilgrimage to Freedom establish that Gandhi and Patel expected Britain to lose the war. Before the “Quit India” resolution was adopted on August 8, 1942, Gandhi sent Miraben (Madeleine Slade) to the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow, no doubt to explain matters. He refused to meet her. Gandhi was shocked at his arrest. On August 9, he told Mahadev Desai: “After my last night’s speech they will never arrest me” (ibid; page 2,356). The gamble failed. By August 1942, it was evident that the Axis would be defeated by Britain, the Soviet Union and the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” the United States.
Ambedkar traced his folly and that of Jinnah in his book Pakistan or the Partition of India (1946). In the earlier work Thoughts on Pakistan he had stated the case for both sides. He now expressed his own views with a wealth of learning. Let Ambedkar speak for himself.
“Mr Gandhi, instead of negotiating with Mr Jinnah and the Muslim League with a view to a settlement, took a different turn. He got the Congress to pass the famous Quit India Resolution on the 8th August 1942. This Quit India Resolution was primarily a challenge to the British Government. But it was also an attempt to do away with the intervention of the British Government in the discussion of the Minority question and thereby securing for the Congress a free hand to settle it on its own terms and according to its own lights. It was in effect, if not in intention, an attempt to win independence by bypassing the Muslims and the other minorities. The Quit India Campaign turned out to be a complete failure. It was a mad venture and took the most diabolical form. It was a scorch-earth campaign in which the victims of looting, arson and murder were Indians and the perpetrators were Congressmen.”
From prison, Gandhi began correspondence with Linlithgow and got nowhere. He next sought talks with Jinnah on the basis of Rajaji’s [C. Rajagopalachari] formula after his release in 1944. Ambedkar called the formula “a snare and not a solution”.
Jinnah rejected it after publicly subjecting it to a close textual analysis. But he escaped such an analysis of the Pakistan resolution because, during the talks, Gandhi asked some inane questions on September 15, 1944: “Is the goal of Pakistan Pan-Islam?” and “what is your definition of minorities”. Jinnah disposed of them with ease. Ambedkar was sorry about it. “What one feels sorry for is that the talks failed without giving us a clear idea of some of the questions about which Mr Jinnah has been observing discreet silence in his public utterances, though he has been quite outspoken about them in his private talks. These questions are (1) Is Pakistan to be conceded because of the Resolution of the Muslim League? (2) Are the Muslims, as distinguished from the Muslim League, to have no say in the matter? (3) What will be the boundaries of Pakistan? Whether the boundaries will be the present administrative boundaries of the Punjab and Bengal or whether the boundaries of Pakistan will be ethnological boundaries? (4) What do the words ‘subject to such territorial adjustments as may be necessary’ (in the Provinces’ boundaries) which occur in the Lahore Resolution mean? What are the territorial adjustments the League had in mind? (5) What does the word ‘finally’ which occurs in the last part of the Lahore Resolution mean? Did the League contemplate a transition period in which Pakistan will not be an independent and sovereign State? (6) If Mr Jinnah’s proposal is that the boundaries of Eastern and Western Pakistan are to be the present administrative boundaries, will he allow the Scheduled Castes, or, if I may say so, the non-Muslims in the Punjab and Bengal to determine by a plebiscite whether they wish to be included in Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan and whether Mr Jinnah would be prepared to abide by the results of the plebiscite of the non-Muslim elements in the Punjab and Bengal? (7) Does Mr Jinnah want a corridor running through U.P. and Bihar to connect up eastern Pakistan to western Pakistan? It would have been a great gain if straight questions had been put to Mr Jinnah and unequivocal answers obtained. But instead of coming to grips with Mr Jinnah on these questions, Mr Gandhi spent his whole time proving that the C.R. formula is substantially the same as the League’s Lahore Resolution—which was ingenious if not nonsensical— and thereby lost the best opportunity he had of having these questions clarified.”
Ambedkar trained his gun on Jinnah. “Unfortunately Muslims do not realise what disservice Mr Jinnah has done to them by this policy. But let Muslims consider what Mr Jinnah has achieved by making the Muslim League the only organisation for the Musalmans. It may be that it has helped him to avoid the possibility of having to play the second fiddle. For inside the Muslim camp he can always be sure of the first place for himself. But how does the League hope to save by this plan of isolation the Muslims from Hindu Raj? Will Pakistan obviate the establishment of Hindu Raj in provinces in which the Musalmans are in a minority? Obviously it cannot. This is what would happen in the Muslim-minority Provinces if Pakistan came. Take an all-India view. Can Pakistan prevent the establishment of Hindu Raj at the centre over Muslim minorities that will remain in Hindustan? It is plain that it cannot. What good is Pakistan then? Only to prevent Hindu Raj in Provinces in which the Muslims are in a majority and in which there could never be Hindu Raj!! To put it differently Pakistan is unnecessary to Muslims where they are in a majority because there, there is no fear of Hindu Raj. It is worse than useless to Muslims where they are in a minority, because Pakistan or no Pakistan they will have to face a Hindu Raj. Can politics be more futile than the politics of the Muslim League? The Muslim League started to help minority Muslims and has ended by espousing the cause of majority Muslims. What a perversion in the original aim of the Muslims League! What a fall from the sublime to the ridiculous! Partition as a remedy against Hindu Raj is worse than useless.”
He also established that partition of Punjab and Bengal was inevitable if India was to be partitioned. Even in 2015 this book brings home to Indians and Pakistanis alike the egregious follies committed by their leaders at a crucial phase in their history with lasting harm to the entire subcontinent. It only remains to add that unlike the Congress leaders, especially the Mahatma, who denounced Jinnah in private in intemperate language—notably to Louis Fisher. “He believes he is a prophet.” As for Subhas Chandra Bose, “I do not encourage the Bose legend. I did not agree with him. I do not now believe he is alive. Instinct made me believe to the contrary at one time, because he had made himself into a legendary Robin Hood. … You have a high opinion of statesmen. Most of them are stupid” (The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, pages 472-474). This was said on July 18, 1946. However, at a prayer meeting on May 31, 1947, Gandhi said, “God Willing, Jinnah Saheb too will come and sit here one day and say that he is not, and never has been, our enemy” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; Volume 88; page 45). Three days later, the Partition Plan was announced. It was accepted by both the Congress and the Muslim League.
Ambedkar criticised Jinnah but also admired and respected him. “Mr Jinnah, who represents this ideological transformation, can never be suspected of being a tool in the hands of the British even by the worst of his enemies. He may be too self-opinionated, an egotist without the mask and has perhaps a degree of arrogance which is not compensated by any extraordinary intellect or equipment. It may be on that account he is unable to reconcile himself to a second place and work with others in that capacity for a public cause. He may not be overflowing with ideas although he is not, as his critics make him out to be, an empty-headed dandy living upon the ideas of others. It may be that his fame is built up more upon art and less on substance. At the same time, it is doubtful if there is a politician in India to whom the adjective incorruptible can be more fittingly applied. Anyone who knows what his relations with the British government have been will admit that he has always been their critic, if indeed, he has not been their adversary. No one can buy him. For it must be said to his credit that he has never been a soldier of fortune.” Ambedkar continued to criticise Jinnah. But when Ambedkar sought Jinnah’s help to build a college it was readily given.