India was a land of diversity. It consists of a variety of cultures, religions and ethnicity. It shares the notion of unity among diversity. However, the British sought an attack on this diversity of the nation.
The Partition of India was not just an outcome of a single factor. Rather a series of events led in the culmination of the partition of the country. The communal politics was one of the most important factors which were responsible for the partition of the country.
Communalization refers to the politicization of religious identity. The creation of separate electorates for Muslims by the colonial government in 1909 and its expansion in 1919 fostered divisions among Hindu and Muslims. As per the idea of separate electorates only Muslims were allowed to vote and elect their representatives who would also belong to the same community. Thus, it played the card of identity politics. This created communal division and also encouraged sectarianism. The politicians offered favour only to their own religious groups. Religious identities thus acquired a functional use within a modern political system. The British pursued this policy to break the unity of the nation. It was successful in fostering hostility against members of religious groups. The logic of electorates deepened and hardened their identities.
Along with this, the communal activists build solidarity within their communities and mobilized people against the other community. As a result, communal riots broke out in different parts of the country.
The idea of separate electorates was based on religious identity. The partition of India on a religious basis made leaders and nationalists critical to this idea as it could further lead to the division of the country. The memories of partition were fresh in the minds of nationalists. Thus, they refused any kind of special provision to minorities that could lead to the further breakup of the country.
The demand for continuing with separate electorates was made by B. Pocker Bahadur from Madras. He argued that electorates are important as they create a system for minorities in which they could be well represented and can live in harmony with others. Minorities exist on all lands and they cannot be wiped out. Thus, separate electorates would ensure that Muslims had a meaningful voice in the governance of the country. However, this demand provoked anger and dismay amongst most nationalists. They saw it as a measure to divide the people.
Sardar Patel remarked that separate electorates were a “poison that has entered the body politic of our country. It fostered hostility against other communities, led to violence and caused bloodshed and ultimately divided the nation and led to the tragic partition of the country. He urged to do away with this idea and the British element perpetuated in the Indian Territory.
Govind Ballabh Pant also opposed the demand. He argued that this idea was not only harmful for the nation but also for the minorities. He called it a suicidal demand that would permanently isolate the minorities, make them vulnerable, and deprive them of any effective say within the government.
Even, Muslim leaders such as Begum Aizaas Rasul, felt that separate electorates were self-destructive since they isolated the minorities from the majority.
It was agreed by the members of constituent assembly that in order to forge political unity and nationalism, each individual had to be moulded into a citizen of the state.
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