The Realists and the Idealists

The Muslims at that point were divided into two groups. Firstly, there were the Idealists who believed that the Hindus and the Muslims could still work together to achieve their goals. These Idealists joined the Congress. The other group was that of the Realists who were convinced that the Congress was a biased platform which protected only the interests of the Hindus, whichn will ultimately lead to the Hindus ruling the Muslims. Jinnah attended the annual session of the Congress at Calcutta in 1906 along with other similar minded Muslims, Hindus, Parsis and the Christians.This meeting was presided over by Dadabhai Naoroji and M.A Jinnah acted as his secretary.

Dadabhai claimed that by partitioning Bengal, the British had made a grave mistake, which must be remedied for the sake of the people of the subcontinent. Talking about the issue of the mounting distance between the Hindu and the Muslim communities, he said, “Once self-government is attained, then there will be prosperity enough for all, but not till then. The thorough union, therefore, of all the people for their emancipation is an absolute necessity.” At that point Jinnah was a firm believer of this ideology and strongly advocated it. He therefore came to be known as the ‘Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. With this stance in mind, he set out to accomplish the Congress’s mission of uniting the two communities, which would ultimately help the Indians to achieve swaraj (self rule).

There was a split in the Congress led by the Maharashtra’s Lokamanya, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, in the session held at Surat in 1907. Tilak had no confidence in the reforms promised by Morley and in protest his followers first rejected British-made goods and later boycotted their institutions too. They started protesting fervently for swaraj and became popular with the masses. The British government in an attempt to gain control over the situation arrested the prominent leaders of that movement which included Tilak.Tilak chose Jinnah to his case in the High Court and although the British government refused to hear anything on Tilak’s behalf, Jinnah’s exceptional skills as a barrister and orator were obvious in the way he presented his case. Also the depth of his character can be seen in the fact that he was willing to fight, to the best of his ability, for the leader of an oponent party. This earned him the respect and esteem of one of the most conformist leaders of the subcontinent at that time.

Jinnah was one of the few members to participate in the Viceroy’s sixty-man Central Legislative Council in 1910. He represent Bombay. He was 35 at that time and was amongst the youngest members to join this high level council, again verifying his brilliance and standing. This was three years before when he actually joined the Muslim League. King George V annulled the partition of Bengal, in December 1911, leaving the Muslims of India with a feeling of betrayal as the highest officials of the government had assured them of its permanence.

Gandhi and Jinnah - a study in contrasts

An extract from the book that riled India's Bharatiya Janata Party and led to the expulsion of its author Jaswant Singh, one of the foun...