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Maulana Azad had sensed: Sardar Patel 'instigated' Nehru into accepting partition

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*

The ghost of partition is haunting us even today. Partition is a very complex and complicated jinx to understand. However, it couldn’t be understood unless we go into the details with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, quite a few of which were confided into me by his nephew (and my father), Ghulam Yasin’s son, Nooruddin Ahmed at the time when 30 unpublished pages of Maulana Azad’s “India Wins Freedom” had to be published in 1988 as per his wishes 30 years after his death.
Nooruddin Ahmed was brought up by Maulana like his own son, as Azad had no issue. in fact, Azad loved his nephew of his own son.
Of course, some curtains were raised by Jaswant Singh, the sidelined BJP leader, in his, “Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence”, in which he asserted that the main villain of the vivisection wasn’t Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, but our very own, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. This was embarrassing not only for the Congress but others as well.
Jaswant Singh said that there was a time before the vivisection of the subcontinent when nobody was a bigger nationalist and more faithful advocate of the solidarity of India than Jinnah (whom we term as Qatil-e-Azam), not even Gandhiji. Jinnah dithered because of the Nehru bandwagon, when Jinnah asked for a bigger number of Muslim representatives for the Constituent Assembly.
Jaswant Singh, who called Jinnah a nationalist leader, said that prior to the misunderstanding and bad blood, first created in 1929 on the issue of “separate electorate”, and then in 1946, regarding the Cabinet Mission Plan, Jinnah was heads and shoulders above other nationalists.
“He fought the British for an independent India but also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of Muslims of India... the acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim unity,” Jaswant Singh wrote.
On Nehru’s denial, daggers were drawn. Nehru failed to comprehend that a couple of seats’ sacrifice would have saved the partition. Both were highly brilliant barristers and were huge intellectual rivals. Nehru’s recalcitrant behaviour played the hell, leading the creation of an Islamic nation. However, Jaswant Singh was vilified because he termed Nehru, and not Jinnah, as the true villains for the vivisection.
Somewhat similar allegations have been recorded by Maulana Azad in his last 30 pages of “India Wins Freedom” that were published 30 years after his death (February 22, 1958) in 1988 by Orient Longman.
When I visited Nooruddin in Kolkata at his house (32, Bright Street), he told me about certain glaring realities of the partition that hadn’t seen the light of the day that got published in the major newspapers and magazine of that time, “The Times of India”, “Deccan Chronicle”, “The Illustrated Weekly”, “The Telegraph, Sunday”, besides others. 
Patel was now an even greater supporter of the two nation theory than Jinnah. Jinnah may have raised the flag of partition but now the real flag bearer was Patel
He told me, a lot of Azad’s unpublished work had been thieved or destroyed by some distant relatives of my father living as a recluse in Calcutta during the controversy around “India Wins Freedom”. It was a time when dirty linen was washed by some relatives of Azad to grab the royalty rights of “India Wins Freedom.” Maulana Azad was quite aggravated about partition, I was told. He believed Nehru of being lured into partition by the Mountbattens. 
Azad had also written a book “Jashn-e-Azadi ya Taqseem-e-Hind” that never got published. It is reported to be containing some glaring truths on partition, as per a page 1 report in “The Times of India”, October 10, 1992, by Sakina Yusuf Khan. My father told me that the book was basically a retort against Nehru, Patel and Gandhi regarding their role in partition. 
Since Maulana had a tremendous regard for Patel and Nehru, and he didn’t want to hurt them during their lifetime, he made a will that the last 30 pages of the book should be published only 30 years after his death -- a time when all these people too would be no more.
In these 30 pages, Azad said that Patel was the one who was mainly responsible for partition. Page 201 of the 1988 edition of “India Wins Freedom” states, “I was surprised that Patel was now an even greater supporter of the two nation theory than Jinnah. Jinnah may have raised the flag of partition but now the real flag bearer was Patel.”
The diary of Maniben, Sardar Patel’s daughter, who used to accompany him to almost every place, from June 8, 1936 till Sardar’s death on December 15, 1950, serves to highlight the deep regard Patel held for Gandhi as also his serious differences with Nehru on a host of issues, including Hyderabad, Kashmir, foreign policy, especially with regard to Tibet, Hindu-Muslim problems, etc.
Maniben’s diary also reveals differences between Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad, particularly with regard to Maulana’s “secret” dealings with the Cabinet Mission and later in respect of the Hindu-Muslim problem.
The seeds of discord for the partition were sown in the mismanagement of the Cabinet Mission Plan as per the facts recorded in eminent scholar and editor-in-chief of “Salar”, an Urdu daily from Bangalore, B Sheikh Ali’s book “Maulana Azad: Vision and Action”. He states that according to the Federal system, both Hindus and Muslims were to be given their due and both were satisfied about that.
During 1946, even Maulana Azad was in favour of the Cabinet Mission Plan as the populace was sensibly categorized into three areas, namely, A, B and C.
‘A’ represented the areas with Hindu majority while ‘B’ stood for Muslim dominated areas and ‘C’ stood for areas with Muslim majority in the North East. This was a plan that had eased communal conflagration and aimed at cementing communal concord.
It was all harmonious till the time Maulana Azad sensed that Sardar Patel instigated Nehru to not only make changes into the Cabinet Mission Plan but his intention to completely shelve it. Azad ran to Gandhi at 10 AM on March 31, 1947 to report to him that the danger of partition was lurking and that he must interfere.
He was told by the Father of the Nation that no changes would be effected into the Cabinet Mission Plan and if that happened it would be on his corpse. A panicky Maulana got pacified.
Nevertheless, by 4 PM, the same day, no one knew what had transpired between Nehru and Sardar Patel, and they had finally decided for partition. Azad, a man of unsurpassable intuition, got the feeler that partition was on the cards. Jolted and jarred, Azad again ran to Gandhi, realizing that partition had become inescapable. However, he found that Gandhi also sided with Nehru and Patel on the issue of partition.
According to B Sheikh Ali, Azad had said at that, “What shocked me to the smithereens was the fact that Gandhi too started quoting the same ideology for effecting partition that was Patel’s.” It is time that the reality of partition dawns upon people and the blot from the Muslim community held responsible for the partition is washed.
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*Commentator on social, educational and religious issues; grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad; chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

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