The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on 9 December 1946, in the Constitution Hall (now the Central Hall of Parliament). Dr Rajendra Prasad and H. C. Mukherjee were elected as assembly president and vice-president, respectively.
The Assembly completed the task of drafting a constitution in two years, 11 months and 18 days, at a total expenditure of Rs 64 lakh.
Exactly 66 years ago, on 26 November 1949, the Assembly finalized the Preamble to the Constitution.
On 27 August 1947, even as horrific communal riots engulfed Punjab, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel presented the Report of the Advisory Committee on Minorities before the Assembly. A debate raged for two days, ranging from separate electorates for Muslims and tribal rights to special provisions for the “Backward Classes”.
Over the next few days, Swarajya will be presenting an excerpted version of this fascinating and illuminating debate that has had—and still continues to have—far-reaching impact on India as a nation, a State and a democracy.
Wednesday, 27th August 1947
The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi at Ten of the Clock, Mr President (The Honourable Dr. Rajendra Prasad) in the Chair.
Mr. President: I propose that the House should now take up the Report of the Advisory Committee on Minorities.
Mr. B. V. Kamath (CP & Berar: General): The loud speaker must be out of order because we have not heard a word over here.
Mr. President: In that case I shall. have to repeat…I propose to take up the consideration of the Report of the Advisory Committee on Minorities…I will now request Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to move the, consideration of the Report.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel (Bombay: General) Sir, on behalf of the Advisory Committee I beg leave to place this Report on Minority Rights before the House. It has been drafted after considering the report of the Minority Committee and after considering all the points raised with regard to the safeguards for different minorities in this country. You all know that the question of safeguards for minorities has been discussed several times and considered in various committees, and there is no new point to be discussed. In one committee or other for several years past this question has been discussed, sometimes very minutely, sometimes generally.
Sometimes its discussion has taken an acute form and sometimes it has resulted in a bitter controversy. But I am happy to say that this report has been the result of a general consensus of opinion between the minorities themselves and the majority. Therefore, although it is not possible to satisfy all, you will see that this report has been the result of agreement on many points; and wherever there has been disagreement the recommendations have been carried by a very large majority, that except perhaps on one point the report is practically an agreed report.
It may be that there are some who are not satisfied on some points, but we have to take into consideration all points of view and feelings and sentiments of the minorities, big and small. We have tried as far as possible to meet the wishes of all the minorities. The minorities among themselves are also divided; there are conflicting interests among them. We have not tried to take advantage of these differences among the minorities themselves; we have tried to see that the minorities also instead of being divided among themselves try to present a united front in order-to safeguard their interests.
But there are certain points on which the minorities cannot be united because there are minorities within minorities. So it is a difficult proposition. We have tried to solve this difficult problem without any bitterness and without any controversy which would create any ill-feeling or hitch; and I hope that this House also will be able to dispose of this question in a friendly spirit and in an atmosphere of goodwill. Let us hope that we will leave the legacy of bitterness behind and forget the past and begin with a clean slate. There is much that is happening round us which requires us to dispose of our business as quickly as possible; and we should do nothing in this House which will add to our difficulties or to the difficulties of our neighbours who are at present involved in bitter strife and when our hearts are bleeding with the wounds that are being inflicted on one of our best provinces in India. Therefore I trust that in this House in considering this question which affects all the minorities we will introduce no heat or argument which may lead to such controversy as would have a repercussion outside.
You will remember that we. passed the Fundamental Rights Committee’s Report which was sent by the Advisory Committee; the major part of those rights has been disposed, of and accepted by this House. They cover a very wide range of the rights of minorities which give them ample protection; and yet there are certain political safeguards which have got to be specifically considered. An attempt has been made in this report to enumerate those safeguards which are matters of common knowledge, such as representation in legislatures, that is, joint versus separate electorates. This is the question which has raised controversy for almost a decade and we have suffered and paid heavily for it. But fortunately we have been able to deal with this question in such a manner that there has been unanimity on the point that there should be no more separate electorates and we should have joint electorates hereafter. So that is a great gain.
Then again on the question of weightage we have agreed that there should be no weightage and with joint electorates the communities should be representated according to the proportion of their population. Then we have thought fit to agree to reservation in proportion to the population of the minorities. Some of the minorities gladly surrendered that right, and said that they wanted neither weightage nor separate electorates but in the general upheaval that is taking place they want to merge themselves in the nation and stand on their own legs. I congratulate those who have taken that stand but I also sympathise with those who still want some help to come up to the standard which we all expect of the nation.
We have now also decided that in the public services a certain amount of reservation for certain communities is necessary-particularly the Anglo-Indian community and the scheduled castes in certain respects deserve special consideration. We have made recommendations in this respect I am glad to say that in this matter also there is unanimity between us and the communities whose interests are affected.
Then we have also provided for some sort of administrative machinery to see that whatever safeguards are provided are given effect to, so that it may not be felt by the communities concerned that these are paper safeguards. There should be continuous vigilance and watch kept over the safeguards that have been provided in the working of the Government machinery in different provinces, and it shall be the business of the officer or administrative machinery concerned to bring to the notice of the legislatures or the Government; the defects or drawbacks in the protection of the rights of minority communities.
We have divided the minorities according to their strength or according to their population. In the Schedule the three parts are set out and dealt with separately because they require separate consideration in proportion to their strength.
…The Parsis…have themselves voluntarily abandoned any concessions that may be given to them and wisely they have done so. Besides, it is well-known that though small, it is a very powerful community and perhaps very wise. They know that any concessions that they may get would perhaps do more harm to them than any good, because they can make their way anywhere, and make their way in such a manner that they would get more than they would get by any reservation or by any separate process of elections. Either in the legislature or in the services, they stand so high in the general standard of the nation that they have disclaimed any concessions and I congratulate them on their decision
Then comes the Christian community. This community is more populous in two or three Provinces;. and in other Provinces they are not so located as to have any direct representation by the process of election. Still they have agreed to have reservation according to their population and to abandon the claim for separate electorate; there is no other safeguard that they have claimed.
We have, so far as the Cabinet representation is concerned, also adopted the formula that exists today in the 1935 Act which is considered constitutionally proper and, therefore, it has also been accepted unanimosly.
Then comes representation in the services. The general standard that we have accepted is that ordinarily competitive posts must go by merit and if we are to depart from this, the general administration would suffer immensely. It is well-known that since this departure has been introduced in the matter of services, our administration has suffered considerably. Now that we begin afresh, we must see that where we have to fill some administrative posts of a higher level, these posts have to be filled by competition, i.e. by competitive examination and competitive tests. We have made some concessions in the matter of certain communities. which require a little help.
On the whole, this report is the result of careful sifting of facts on both sides.
One thing I wish to point out. Apart from representation in the Legislature and the reservation of seats according to population, a provision has been made allowing the minorities to contest any general seat also. There was much controversy about it, both in the Advisory Committee and in the Minorities Committee; but it has been passed by a majority. There was also another point which was a matter of controversy, and that was on behalf of the Muslim League and a section of the Scheduled Castes. The point was raised that a certain percentage of votes should be considered necessary for a successful candidate. This was a matter of controversy and amongst the Scheduled Castes themselves a very large majority sent me a representation yesterday saying they were against this. But in the Advisory Committee it was discussed and it was thrown out by a large majority.
Now, this is in substance the Report. But it is possible that when we take the Schedule item by item, it may be necessary to modify the Report ,as and when the items are considered and passed. Therefore, as the President has urged, we may take the Schedule item by item and the Report may be modified accordingly as and when the items are passed.
Mr. President: There are two motions, of which I have notice, which are for adjourning the discussion of this Resolution. I would ask those Honourable members to move their motions.
Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib Bahadur (Madras: Muslim): Not moving,
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad (East Bengal: Muslim): Also not moving.
Mr. President: Then the general motion that the report be taken into consideration is open for discussion.
Dr. P. S. Deshmukh (CP & Berar: General):…In my opinion, there is no more monstrous word in the history of Indian politics than the word ” minority”. Even since India emerged out of its political infancy, the demon of the interests of minorities and their protection stood before us and appeared to bar the progress of the country. It is a matter of history that this was a creation of the British policy, but it succeeded so well that It is, in my view, essentially the work of the Satan of minority that our beloved country united for over a century has been divided into more parts than one. That this monster should at long last have been shorn of its terrors is an achievement worthy of note. I believe, Sir, that the Members of the Advisory Committee have in this respect a great achievement to their credit. I therefore offer them my hearty congratulations.
First and foremost, they have discontinued separate electorates. Secondly the none too just system of weightages has been given up. The composition of Cabinets is not going to be hampered by insurmountable difficulties of taking minority representatives as of legal and constitutional right nor are our percentages of recruitment going to be worked up to the second decimal as would certainly have been the case had the various representatives of the minorities insisted upon reservation in those spheres also. I believe I voice the feeling of a large section of this House when I say that the representatives of these minorities have taken a long and nationalistic view of the whole matter and provided they do not do anything to spoil the good effect, I would like to assure them on behalf of us all that they will never have any occasion to repent what they have conceded. It should always be remembered that we are, speaking the bare truth, a highly charitable and liberal-minded people.
Some of our Muslim friends, mostly as a result of the British policy, painted us as tyrants and majority-made oppressors. I have never found any justification for such an accusation. but an unjust and untrue charge was repeated ad nauseum and somehow sustained throughout the last so many years. It is upon those false foundations that Pakistan was demanded and conceded. Very few showed patience to analyse the facts. Rather than tyrannize the minorities, the fact was that in most places the minorities tyrannized the majority. The Muslims have almost everywhere enjoyed privileges far in excess of what may be called Just or fair. In my own curious Province. Muslims still enjoy a position which is even today denied to over 60 per cent of the peasants and workers by our own Hindu rulers.
This is not an occasion on which I would like to go further into the matter than this. I am content that no minority is going to try any more to deprive others of what legitimately belongs to them. For many years past, it was the majority that has been tyrannized. Unfortunately, the so-called majority is dumb and deaf and although many of us try always to speak in their name, I have no hesitation in stating that we have completely failed in translating our words into action. May I ask, Sir. what place has been given to the millions of Jats, million of Ahirs, Gujars, Kurmis, Kunbis, the Adibasis and millions of others. Have we not been a little too engrossed in our own exploits and have given inadequate thought to the thousands of these poor peope who have sacrificed their lives to give us the present freedom. What place have we assigned to them except to visualize that they will as heretofore blindly, meekly and religiously vote for any one we will choose for them.
From this point of view, the situation is gloomy even today. It is up to our present rulers to examine and consider, if they are so inclined and to understand all that I mean If they do not do this, nothing but trouble and destruction will lie ahead. I therefore urge that at least when the minorities are content to have only their fair share of power in the Cabinets and a reasonable proportion in Government services, our rulers will pay some attention to the oppressed and neglected rural population which has even under the sacred name of the Congress been more undone than assisted. Pressed by political considerations, microscopic minority interests have been advocated by the greatest of democrats. They enjoyed posts and privileges which they-had no right to enjoy. It is self-evident that if anybody enjoys more than he deserves, he must of necessity deprive someone else of his legitimate share. Let this be borne in mind in distributing power and posts among the various Hindu communities and let the policy of the Devil take the hindmost cease, at least from now.
Shri V. I. Muniswami Pillai (Madras : General): Mr. President, Sir, I feel today is a red letter day for the welfare of the minority communities that inhabit this great land…Sir, as has been previously said by my friend, it-was due to the third man residing in this country that brought out several minority communities…Now, Sir, coming to the very proposition of the consideration of this Report, I may say that any constitution that is made for the 300 millions of this country must have proper safeguards. Some may be thinking in their hearts whether they are not a minority of this land. Specially, Sir, the Untouchables who form one-sixth of the population of this subcontinent are a minority community, because their social, political and educational advancement is in a very low state.
Sir, after Poona Pact, we are coming to the second stage. Actually this is the second stage because the untouchables, the scheduled castes are given certain facilities according to this report that has been presented in this House. One great point, Sir, which I would like to tell this House is that we got rid of the harmful mode of election by separate electorates. It has been buried seven fathom deep, never more to rise in our country. The conditions that were obtaining in the various provinces were the real cause for introducing the system of separate electorates.
…It is hoped. Sir, that, in the great Union that we are all envisaging that this country will become in the years to come,-joint electorates will give equal opportunity. for the Caste Hindus and the Minority communities to come together and work together and produce a better India. Sir, now there, is a reservation of seats on population basis. This is a rightful claim, Sir, of the Depressed Classes who form the tillers of the soil and hewers of wood that they must have equal voice, in the administration of the land. Moreover, due to their economic condition it is not possible for them to contest the unreserved seats and it is a good augury on the part of the Advisory Committee to come with this important recommendation that all the minority communities besides their having the reservation in the various provincial legislatures, will also have the right to contest seats in the unreserved seats. This forms a very good augury that hereafter both the Caste Hindus and the Harijans, that is the Scheduled Castes will go hand in hand so that whatever reform that may be brought to this land or in the Acts that may be brought before the Assembly and for the welfare of the country will be one accepted by all communities. Moreover this clause, allowing the minorities to contest the unreserved seats, shows the goodwill the majority communities are having towards the minority communities.
Much has been said about the representation of minorities in the Cabinet. I am one of those, Sir, who believe in political power for the elevation of the weaker sections of our land. It is by holding offices that these people are bound to come in contact with these unfortunate minority communities and see for themselves what should be done to elevate them. if I plead that there ought to be proper representation of these minorities in the Cabinet, I do not mean, Sir, that the Cabinets will become polluted or it will become inefficient but equal opportunity must be given. Once you give reservation an population basis, I also claim, Sir, that representation in the Cabinet also must be in that proportion. Sir, events have shown in this country that the members that have been drawn from Scheduled Castes to various offices as Ministers and Speakers of the Assembly have proved equally good in the discharge of their duties. Let there be nothing in the minds of the majority communities that those who were chosen from these communities for high offices will not be efficient. I feel that a convention has to be created according to the 1935 Act, as recommended in the Report. I am sure that the goodwill of the majority communities will always be there to see that those weaklings,-the minority communities, are well represented in the Cabinets.
Sir, in the matter of services, I earnestly request that everything must be done to these minority communities so that they may have their quota in the services of this great land. Often it is said, though the Depressed Classes have the required qualification, under some pretext or other they are not given chances in the services. I wish, Sir, after this report has been accepted by the Constituent Assembly, those majority communities who will have the ruling say in the matter will see that the claims of the Scheduled Castes will not be forgotten. I know-as a matter of fact to start with, the present Dominion Cabinet have already issued an executive order setting aside 12 1/2 per cent and 16 1/2 per cent for the Scheduled Castes both in the competitive and non-competitive services. This is a very good augury and I am sure the change of heart will be followed further and proper quota for the representation of the Scheduled Castes in the services will be maintained.
Coming to the conclusion, Sir, the report envisages creation of a Statutory Commission and also Officers in the provinces to investigate and see what are the real things that are keeping these people backward in all the social, economic and educational spheres and I welcome this because this will go a long way for this Commission and also the Officers to know for themselves what are the difficulties of the Scheduled Castes and during the next 10 years do such things, so that after the 10th year we, the Scheduled Castes may not ask for reservations either in the provincial legislatures or in any of these things. It is up to the majority community to see that justice is done so that these minorities may rise in the educational and social sphere so that they may take equal share in the administration of this great land.
Sir, there is a fear in the minds of some of my friends, especially the Scheduled Castes. that the Hindus are getting into power and that Hindu Raj is coming into force and they may introduce the Varnashrama that was obtaining years back, again to’ harass the Harijans. I may tell such friends, as we see things, the Varnashrama Dharma may be applied in a different sense–not in a sense that was obtaining years before–and I am sure this report will be accepted unanimously in this House and any amendments that may be brought may not disfigure the very good report that has been produced by my Honourable friend Sardar Vallabhbhai Patelji.
Srivut Rohini Kumar Chaudhury (Assam: General):…I am glad to observe ample provision has been made (for minorities). There have been seats reserved for them for a period of 10 years. They will have an opportunity of contesting the unreserved seats. With the reserved seats they will continue in their own communal party and secure also the unreserved seats through the benevolence of the Congress party. I believe that it will not take 10 years, by this means, to make the minority community a majority community. From that time onwards there will be no minority communities. That is all as it should be, because we have adopted this policy and have divided our duty and our responsibility.
In the area which is known as Pakistan, the Government of that country would look after the interests of the majority and, in the area which is known as India we shall devote ourselves to the Protection of the minority. We have been doing so and we will go on merrily doing so.
Sir, while, thinking of the minorities in the different provinces of this country, let not this House forget certain provinces which are absolutely backward, e.g., Assam and Orissa, where not a single man can be found to fill up a seat in the Indian Government, where not single man has been found to fill up the position of a Governor, where not a single man has been found. fit to hold the high offices in the Railways or Posts and Telegraphs or even in the Imperial Secretariat.
It is easy to call the Province a Cinderella province after keeping dust and ashes there and it is very easy to call in that way the people of a province who are suffering from an inferiority complex after having done all that you could possibly do to deny them the opportunity given to the people of other provinces. Sir, I notice that there are some frowns on the faces of certain Honourable Members of this House and I think for the sake of safety I must run back to my seat now.
Shri S. Nagappa (Madras: General): Mr. President, Sir,…I have to bring to your notice, that these minorities stood in our way of being free long long ago. The Britisher pleaded with these minorities all these days in order to delay to give us independence. It is only on the 15th of August we got independence and today it is only the 27th and within 12 days these minorities have come to an agreement. So, Sir, you can see how much unity there is in India. There was a kind of pose. They began to play with us, so that we seemed to be disunited for all times to come. Now within a few months we have come to understand each other and are able to present a Minority Committee Report, and that too an agreed report, though these were all the majority of the members from the minority communities. Does this not show the hollowness of our friends’ sincerity when they pleaded to set apart our independence question all these days?
But anyhow I do not want to go into the past. Now, I am glad today we have been able. to undo the mischief that was done 15 years ago by Ramsay Macdonald. It is he who was responsible for the destruction of today. He is the man who is responsible for the loss of life and lots of property in this country. If I have any power, I would have called him to answer these questions. It is he who sowed the seed of disunity and destruction about 15 years ago by giving the communal award.
Now, I particularly congratulate the Sardar for having been able to allow all the minorities to contest even the unreserved seats. It is a great thing. We have also to congratulate the Sardar for having been stiff when there was need, to be so. It is statesmanship having sat tight in places where he ought to be. He has not conceded some of the demands, especially the percentage of votes. The qualities of statesmanship require generosity where generosity is to be shown and stiffness where it is needed.
Under the instrument of Instruction of the 1935 Act there is a provision for inclusion in the Cabinets. But it would have been better if there is an assurance for a minority community Member to be included in the Cabinet, and it would have been more satisfactory if there had been a statutory provision…The quota must be statutorily reserved. I feel that we should not be at the beck and call of the Premier. Let the Premier select the Ministers according to his choice. Why should we think that he has done us a great favour? It is out due share. We are not asking for anything gratis. So, Sir, this. is how injustice will be done.
…Sir, it is not possible to make a minority community man to be the Dominion Premier but at the same time it is easy to make, say, for instance, out of 12 times, six will go to the general community and 3 times will go to the Scheduled Castes, 2 times will go to Muslims and I to other smaller minorities and out of a rotation of 12 one will be the share of the Dominion Presidentship, Governorship and Deputy Governorship, Deputy Presidentship etc. These things would have gone a long way to assure minority communities that the majority is in favour of the.minorities, and sincere towards minorities. As regards services I am glad very recently the Dominion Government has come’ out with its policy. I congratulate there also the Dominion Government. It has done justice to some communities and it has done more than justice, especially to the Christian Community or some such community. It has been fair there. I would suggest that it would have been better if it has been provided in the Report itself, for instance, a particular community will have its share according to its population. I do not want to rob Peter to pay Paul. It is very bad policy. I want my due share; though I am innocent, ignorant dumb, yet I want you to recognise my claim. Do not take advantage of my being dumb. Do not take advantage of my being innocent. I only want my due share and I do not want anything more. I do not want, like others, weightage or a separate state. Nobody has a better claim than us for a separate state. We are the aboriginals of this country.
…Now, as regards the population, Sir, according to 1931 Census we are about 7 crores. We see that. there had been an increase of 14 per cent. average increase. As poverty breeds population our minority might have increased by not less than 20 per cent…There is no surprise when Malthus says that poverty breeds population. If we were more than six crores in 1931, Sir, how is it that we have been reduced to five and half crores in 1941? There is something behind it. Especially in Bihar and the Punjab, I am sorry, in Bengal, some mischief has been done by somebody. There was controversy between Hindus and Muslims. Both these people thought it safe to fall upon these poor and Innocent Harijans and these people were converted or were added to the Hindu population as our people happen to be Hindu. Instead of increasing to seven, we have come down to five and a half crores.
Therefore, I would request that in order to give seats to the Harijans, you should take the 1931 Census. That Census was not prepared by the Harijans. It was prepared by the Government. machinery and we had no hand in it. There is not even a single Harijan that can do any mischief. After all, it is a Government record. You know there is a general increase in the population. You give us the average representation. I do not want any special provision. According to that Census, please work it out. I am afraid because future representation. is assured on the population basis. If that is the case, in course of time, within 10 years, two crores have been diminished; if it is left at this rate, within 10 or 20 years, I am afraid there may not be a Harijan at all, Harijan in the real sense. As the honourable Premier of Bombay says, I would even prefer one seat if I am economically as good, if not better, at least equal, on a par with him. It is left to the constitution. It remains to be seen how much speed you will put in the matter of this community.
Mr. President: We have had a long discussion on this motion. Although I do not wish to stop speakers, I would expect them to conclude discussion on this within the next ten minutes. There are two or three speakers still to speak and I would request members to confine their speeches to three minutes each. Mr. Sidhwa.
Mr. R. K. Sidhwa: (CP & Berar: General) : Sir, I am proud to state that my community have all along, notwithstanding the opposition of a section of my community, never advocated separate electorate or separate or special representation either in the legislature or in the services…Sir, in the Minorities Sub-Committee, my friend and colleague Sir Homi Mody was in favour of special representation in the legislature and it was I who advocated very strongly against it. But I had only three votes against nearly 22, not because the members felt that I was not right, but the members felt that I was taking rather a rational view point and a more advanced view point. Let me tell you, the following day, without my approaching Sir Homi Mody, he realised that what I had said on the previous day was right, absolutely right and he himself changed his view point and on the following day. he said that he was not asking for any special representation for the Parsi community because he felt that if he did so, it was harmful to the community Itself. From this point of view, you can see, as Sardar Patel said, that we have to adjust among ourselves. Without my approaching Sir Homi Modi privately or openly, he had to change his view.
I would only impress upon the other minorities that if they really assimilated their view points now onwards with the majority view point, I can assure them, that in the period of 10 years that has been given to them, they will have no grievance, they will have no complaint to make against the majority community. It is only the heart that is wanted on behalf of the minority to, adjust themselves. I am of opinion that the 10 years that have been given to them is a sufficiently long period. Within that period, I would appeal to the small minorities to adjust themselves so that at the end of 10 years, they should not have to go to the majority and say “give this or give that”, they must, on the contrary demand that we “are entitled to this. They must carry it out just as our community have been doing.
…I only, wish, Sir, that the phrase “minorities” should be wiped out from the history. The 10 years that have been given to them is a sufficiently long period and I hope that when we meet in the shortest period within 10 years, these minorities will come and say “we are happy, we do not want anything”.
Mr. Jaipal Singh (Bihar: General): Mr. President,…I have come to say a few words on behalf of the Adbasis of India in so far as they are affected by the recommendations of the Minorities Sub-Committee…Our stand point is that there is a tremendous disparity in our social, economic and educational standards, and it is only by some statutory compulsion that we can come up to the general population level: I do not consider the Adibasis are a minority. I have always held that a group of people who are the original owners of this country, even if they are only a few, can never be considered a minority. They have prescriptive rights which no one can deny. We are not however asking for those prescriptive rights. We want to be treated like anybody else.
In the past, thanks to the major political parties, thanks to the British Government and thanks to every enlightened Indian citizen, we have been isolated and kept, as it were, in a zoo. That has been the attitude, of all people in the past. Our point now is that you have got to mix with us. We are willing to mix with you, and it is for that reason, because we shall compel you to come near us, because we must get near you, that we have insisted on a reservation of seats as far as the Legislatures are concerned. We have not aked and, in fact, we have never had separate electorates; only a small portion of the Adibasis, that part of it which was converted to various religious and particularly to the Christian religions of the West, had a separate electorate…So, as far as the Adibasis are concerned there is no change whatever. But numerically there is a very big change. Under he 1935 Act, throughout the Legislatures In India, there were altogether only 24 Adibasi MLAs. out of a total of 1.585, as far as the Provincial Legislatures were concerned and not a single representative at the Centre. Now in this adult franchise system of one member for one lakh population you can see the big jump. It will be 10 times that figure. When I speak of Indian India may I also make my appeal to Princely India. In Princely India nowhere have Adibasis found any representation. I hope the spirit of Indian India, will duly permeate there.
Mr. M. S. Aney (Deccan States): There is no non-Indian India now.
Mr. Jaipal Singh: I would explain to Mr. Aney that I was using a new phrase instead of ‘British India’ by calling it Indian India and calling the States Princely India. He may use some other expression if he so likes, but what I mean by Indian India is non-Princely India. I hope this spirit of trying to give a push to the most backward section of Indian society will permeate Indian States also.
Sir, a good deal has been said by my friends, the Scheduled Castes leaders in gratitude in regard to the reservation that has been made for appointments. Only a few days ago the Government of India made announcement. that a certain policy would be followed so that the scheduled castes would find a place in the central Government. I deeply regret that the most needy, the most deserving group of Adibasis. has been completely left out of the picture. I do hope that what I say here will reach the Government of India and that they will pay some attention to this particular item. We do not want reservation on any unequal terms. We desire that so long as we come up to the standards which are required for appointment we should not be kept out of the picture at all.
Mr. President: I think, I should now close the discussion…We shall now take up the items in the Appendix to the Report.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: The first item refers to electorates. It reads: “All elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures will be held on the basis of joint electorates.”. I assume that the House is unanimous on this point and therefore do not propose to make any speech Sir, I move.
Mr. President: Is there any amendment to this?
Mr. B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur: …My amendment runs as follows: “That on a consideration of the report of the Advisory Committee on minorities, fundamental right etc., on minority rights this meeting of the Constituent Assembly resolves that all elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures should, as far as Muslims are concerned, be held on the basis of separate electorates.”
In making this motion, Sir, I am fully aware that there is a very strong section who feel differently from me and who not only feel that separate electorates are not desirable, but who also feel that it is the separate electorates that have been responsible for so many ills which have attacked this country and which are responsible for so much of misunderstanding that has caused so much harm to the country. Now, Sir, I would submit that in considering this question Honourable Members of his House should comply with the request of the Honourable the Mover and forget the past and begin with a clean slate. They ought not to apply their minds to this question with any pre-conceived notions which they might have entertained during recent years. They should forget all that has happened in the past and look at the question only with the view as to how far this provision which I am proposing will be useful in developing a better understanding between the communities. and how far it will contribute to the happiness of all the communities concerned…I hope, Sir, that the House will agree with me in saying that if important communities are left discontented and if they are left to get on with the feeling that they have not got an adequate voice in the governance of the country, that is an evil which we will have to avoid at any cost.
…In some of the speeches I found that regret was expressed about the existence of what are called the minorities or perhaps minority communities. As a matter of fact there is no use in our going against human nature and having before us ideologies which are impossible or realization. Human nature being what it is, there are bound to be minorities and minority communities in every land; and particularly in such a vast sub continent as India they are bound to exist. and it is humanly impossible to erase them entirely out of existence. What we can do is to minimize differences between them and to do things is such a way that all minorities are satisfied and feel they are contented. In this matter there are two principles which have to be kept in view.
There must be a spirit of give and take on the part of various communities and particularly on the part of the majority community there must be a spirit of generosity. They should not measure things on an arithmetical or mathematical scale and try to argue points. When some minorities are working under great disabilities and feel that they have not had their share in the governance of the country, adequate provision should be made so as to satisfy them. Even if the majority feel that any particular minority is not right in claiming a particular method of achieving their end, even there I would say there must be a spirit of give and take and the majority community should be generous, and I appeal through you, Sir, to Hon’ble Members of this House to keep this particularly in view, and also remember that after all, if this generosity is exercised by the majority community, they are not going to suffer. The majority is a majority and the minorities are minorities.
If by some special measure which may be proposed, some particular minority community gets a little more than what it deserves, according to their population or some such thing, even the majority community should act in a spirit of give and take and display a generous spirit. It is in this spirit that I appeal to the House to look at this question.
…I submit, Sir, that so long as it is recognised that the minorities should be kept satisfied, that their views and their grievances should be given an effective voice in the deliberations of the Legislature, I do say that the only way is to get at that man in that community who really represents that community. On the other hand, if you say that community has: no right to exist as a community, and that it should be effaced by one stroke of the pen, then, Sir, I am certainly out of court. But you have to recognise, and it, is absolutely necessary to recognise, that there are communities with vital differences among themselves, whether on grounds of religion. or other differences. There are such communities, and it is our duty to provide for them constitutionally, that they are all adequately represented and the best and only effective way in which any particular community can be represented is by laying down a procedure by which the best man who can represent that community, who can voice forth the feelings of that community is elected to the legislature. That is the sole criterion on the basis of which we have to look at this question.
The question now is whether in order to achieve that end, it is necessary to have separate electorates or not. That the interests of the communities should have a representation in the legislature is conceded even by the Report of the Committee. The only difference is that they want to achieve that purpose by some other means and I say by that means the end will not be achieved at all. What the Minorities committee says is, “Reserve a certain number of seats to candidates belonging to that particular community but on the basis of the joint electorate”. Then, it is that person whom the majority community backs that will be elected. Perhaps that man may be a man liked by the majority under the guise of belonging to the minority community.
There have been instances in which Muslims and Hindus joined together, in the old days of Non-Cooperation, and boycotted all legislatures, and simply for the sake of fun, some illiterate sweeper or scavenger, or some such person, was put up as a candidate as coming from a particular community in order to make a mockery of the whole show. If that could be done in those days, what I am asking is, whether such things will not reoccur. Of course it all depends on the spirit in which the question is viewed, but I say the mere fact that a particular member belongs co a particular community is not a guarantee that his views represent the views of that particular community.
If at all it is to be represented, it has got to elect the right man from among the members of that community. That is my appeal to you. If a worthless man or a man who is not capable of even understanding the needs of the community is elected from a particular community, he cannot be expected to represent that community simply because he is labelled as one belonging to that community. I submit, Sir, this is the criterion which should decide whether this report has given effect to the principle which they have accepted, namely, that the minority communities should be represented on the legislature. If, on the other hand the existence of the minorities and their right for representation are denied, well, then I have nothing more to say. But I would request you to approach this question in a generous spirit.
…I have to emphasise one point. The legislature is intended to make laws for the whole country and for all communities, and it is necessary that in that legislature the needs of all communities should be ventilated. I would submit that as matters stand at present in this country, it will be very difficult for members of particular communities, say the non-Muslims to realise the actual needs and requirements of the Muslim community. I say that even if a non-Muslim does his best to do what he can for the Muslim community, to represent their views, he will find it impossible to do so because he is not in a position to realise, understand and appreciate the actual needs of the members of that particular community, so long as he does not belong to that community. They will find it practically impossible to know, exactly what the needs are.
There are ever so many questions, particularly hereafter, which the communities will require to be ventilated in the legislatures. There may be legislation concerning wakfs, marriage, divorce and so many other things of social importance, I request the House to consider this matter from the reverse point of view. How would the Hindus feel if the Muslims were to represent their grievances in the legislature and provide effective remedies as regards say, temple entry, marriage customs etc? I do admit that there may be efficient men on either side possessing knowledge of the needs of both Hindus and Muslims, but they will not be many. Therefore it is that I say that the principle should be, that the best man in the particular community should represent the views of that community and this purpose cannot be served except by means of separate electorates.
One more point I wish to place before you is this.. This institution of separate electorates was being enjoyed by the Muslim Community from the first decade of this country, i.e, for over 40 years and now the moment independence has been obtained it is being. abolished. It would be a very sad thing, I submit, to give rise to the feeling among Muslims that at this critical stage they are being deprived of the benefit of this institution now and that they are being ignored and their voice stifled. I request Honourable Members to avoid such a contingency and the creation of such a feeling among the Muslim community of India.
One other point I would like to mention is this. The Muslim community is well-organised. It is very necessary in the interests of the country as a whole that each of the important communities should be well-organised, so that all and come together and arrive at an understanding for the future governance the country. At present the Muslims are strong and well-organised. Now, if they, are made to feel that their voice cannot even be heard in the Legislature, they will become desperate. I would request you not to create that contingency. You are fully aware that at present there is very little difference between the Congress and the Muslim League as regards their objectives. No doubt, till recently they had wide differences, but somehow or other, wisely, or unwisely, rightly or wrongly, they have been solved and an agreement ha’s been reached between these two great organisations.
The fundamental point on which they differed has been resolved and there is no difference really now. At this stage they must join hands and destroy the subversive elements in the country. I am sure you will agree with me that there are a large number of elements in the land which are subversive and which act against law and order. Provincial Governments have taken full power in their hands to pass Ordinances in order to put a stop to these elements. Now, I appeal to the Honourable gentlemen of this House, both Congressmen and Muslims and other communities, to join hands and act together so that these subversive elements which have raised their head at this critical juncture of the history of this great land may be put down, and in order to do that, I say inspite of the great difference of opinion that exists today, granting of separate electorates to the Muslims and allowing Muslims to have their voice heard in the Legislature so as to enable them to act hand in hand with the Congress will be the best method. Otherwise, these elements will be a very great danger to the safety of the people of the land, not only internally but also externally. I do not want to be more explicit on the point because I know that Hon’ble Members understand me when I say this. With these few words. Sir, I move my amendment.
Mr. President: The amendment and the motion are now open to discussion.
Shri M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar (Madras: General): Sir, I am extremely disappointed at the speech made by the previous speaker. I thought that after having obtained Pakistan my friends in India would change their attitude. I really wonder what more can be done, We are going too far and are trying to placate them in every possible way…I ask any of the protagonists of this amendment, to show me a single. instance where in any part of the country, in any part of the world a political right has been conceded in the manner in which it has been conceded here.
…There is no doubt that difference between the Hindus and Muslims do exist. One prays towards the East and the other toward the West. But there is also a common bond. Mohammad started his religion to bring the various warring elements together under a common banner. Religion in ancient days was an integrating power. There must be a common platform on which all could stand. I look forward to that day when humanity will be one, when all castes and creeds will disappear, (Cheer), when children are asked as to what religion they belonged,, they may-say, “I do not belong to any religion but I am an Indian and do take pride in being one.” I look forward to the day when there will be no difference. Even a child knows that the sex of the mother is different from that of the father. Though one electric bulb may be white and the other red, the current that is running through is one and the same. A philosopher is necessary to come and say amidst all these happenings, ‘Let us bring millenium on earth’.
In my part of the world, the Madras Presidency, though the Muslims are in a minority, they also joined in this move for separating the country. Have you a parallel to this carnage that is going on in the Punjab whoever may be responsible for it? It is a disgrace to our ancient religion and the religion of the Prophet. Neither the Seers nor Maharishis, if they will be looking on, will be satisfied with what is going on in the country. Is it not time for us wisely to consider what is responsible for this? We are all brothers. Can it be said that Mr. Pocker is different from myself ? He speaks Tamil and I also speak Tamil. He cannot speak in Hindustani whereas I am able to understand and speak Hindustani in a smattering way. If tomorrow I become a Muslim do you think I will become less of a Madrasi? Unfortunately the country has been cut up and those people who may be responsible for it may be proud of it. After all it is like a fight between two brothers. I am a lawyer and I know of cases where a younger brother files a suit against the elder brother and where the elder brother says that the younger brother was not born to his father. After the case is over if there was marriage in elder brother’s house the younger brother refuses to attend the same and the eider brother says ‘It is no doubt true that we fought, but I am not going to celebrate the marriage if my younger brother does not attend it.’
Similarly some day Pakistan also may come back to us. What will be the effect of my friend Mr. Pocker’s amendment? You go in the morning to the mosque and I go to the temple. But there will have to be a common platform’ where we have to join together on many matters. If there is famine we will all have to fight it. We expect if there is to be joint electorates, we will come together some time. Under the joint electorate system a Hindu can represent the Muslims and a Muslim the Hindus. I will represent much more than you do because I know I am not a Muslim and as such I will always have an inferiority complex and so look after your interests well. So why not take advantage of that?
My friend Mr. Pocker says “I want a good, honest representative”. What is the definition of goodness ? Goodness does not come by being a Muslim or a Hindu. I believe he wants a man who effectively supports the Muslim cause. When there was carnage in Bengal, we did not bother to enquire how many were Hindus and how many were Muslims and we do not know even to this day. Unfortunately Hindus also sometimes feel “We are still human beings; when the country has been divided, why should they be protected still? Let this business be done away with”. For Heaven’s sake, avoid all this. These are not the things that will bring us together…I am a Hindu and if you allow me to represent you, I will come to you at least every, 4 years. Similarly a Muslim can come to the Hindus. Ultimately we will come together. This is possible only if we have joint electorates. If I do not come on his vote, if I am not his representative, what on earth is there to bind me to him?
From the practical point of view, I ask my friend who moved this amendment if he is, one or five or twenty in a House of two hundred, what is it that he can do without the cooperation of the others? Is he going to preach here Islam or read the Quran ? Will I be allowed to read the Vedas here? In this House, what is it one can do without the help of the majority? I expect very soon a secular State will arise here. Are you going to stand between us and the establishment of a secular State?
I am not prepared to call a single individual a minority. I do not like the word ‘minority’ at all. Therefore I am saying that I am opposed to this amendment.
Mr. B. Das (Orissa: General) : Mr. President, may I ask whether we are to be allowed to discuss the things we have discussed for years again here on the floor of this House ?
Mr. President: I appreciate the point of order raised by Mr. B. Das. I expect Members to confine themselves to the subject matter of the motion which it is true is such that we can talk interminably on many points. I expect Members to have an eye on the clock also. Mr. Ayyangar has already taken more than 20 minutes.
Shri M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar: Yes, Sir, but this is the first time I am speaking on this subject which is uppermost in our minds. It is not easy not to refer to certain happenings. In the Punjab, of the 165 civilian officers who were sent from here to Karachi by train, only two have returned. They have come back to India. That is the news in the “Hindustan Times” yesterday. What has become of the 163 civil servants, belonging to the Secretariat at Delhi ? Their fate is not yet known. I would spend not 20 minutes but even 20 years weeping and crying over happenings such as this I am trying to find a solution. I am trying to request my friend Mr. Pocker and appeal to him once again to develop a secular State. Ample provision for cultural, linguistic and educational matters has been made. And if there is any difficulty, jet us sit together and surmount it. Let not the interest of any single community or Individual be sacrificed for the cause of the rest.
As regards political matters, let us sit together and solve our problems. We have patched up our differences : if now we can build up a secular State, we can rear up our heads as the foremost, nation in the world. We have nowadays been thinking of the culture of the West. The sun of wisdom that rose in the East has set in the West unfortunately. Let us revive that Sun. Let us make him rise gloriously in the East. With these few words I request my friend Mr. Pocker and the other gentleman who has joined him in tabling this amendment to withdraw it and stand unanimously for joint electorate. (Cheers)
Shri T. Prakasam (Madras: General) : Sir, many of the leaders of the so called minorities offered thanks and congratulations to the Honourable Members of the Committee and its Chairman, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for the generosity shown by the majority in this direction. I should say, Sir, they should be congratulated not for the generosity shown, but for discharging their duty as they have done now. There is nothing of generosity which has been shown by the members of the Committee or by you, Sir, as Chairman of the Committee. It is a duty that has been cast upon the majority which has not been discharged for such a long time. All these minorities have been allowed to be formed and developed to this stage, until we are choked with the poison of communalism that has been there for such a long time.
All this could have been checked in the past. We have been paying now, Sir, for all the sins of omissions and commissions of the majority, itself. It was the duty of the majority, Sir, to see that all these separatist tendencies had not developed, separate communities had not been formed. Now they have been put together just as they had been at one time. This is a country. as every one knows, where in the beginning there was only one religion, one God and one form of worship. All these later things had come UP gradually. Look into the sequence of dates of all these religions that have been started. Take the Christian religion and mark the period when it came into existence. Take ‘the Muslim religion and mark the period when it came into existence. What was the state of affairs before these religions came into existence ? Before two thousand years and one thousand and three hundred, years, there were no such things as these that prevail today.
But these religions are not and should not have been responsible for all the troubles that we witness today….If today in the Punjab ail these massacres and crimes are going on, it is not exclusively due to difference in religion. On the top of this so-called religion, what has come about is the desire, desire for profit, desire for office and desire for encroachment on others’ properties. It is that thing that has come on the top of these things….I must congratulate this Committee and Sardar Patel for the manner in which all these communities which had been statutorily separated for such a long time, have been brought together and made to feel as one and made to agree. That is the highest point that has been gained. Even among the Muslims, Sir, after the so-called Pakistan or partition, friends who are sitting here, who are from almost every province, they are all agreed on the ‘need for joint electorates. We should have had joint electorates for the last 25 years and there would have been no trouble in this country at all.
…This is an occasion on which we are framing a constitution, a Union constitution, to have all the people put together. Let them not disagree; let them be treated as part of the majority. That is the way in which things are being forged and I agree that these are things which have gone wrong for ages together and for centuries together and that they could not be brought together in one moment and made to go together: That is why this committee has made this report in this careful manner and it is to the credit and honour of this committee that this great result has been achieved. I therefore congratulate this Committee and its Chairman Sardar Patel.
Chaudhuri Khaliquzzaman (UP: Muslim): Sir,…I feel that it is my duty to point out one very serious objection which was urged against separate electorates. The objection was that it has helped a third party. Fortunately for us all that third Party is no more here. Should we really visualise the situation as it stands today in its true perspective, much of the suspicion that hangs round this system of separate electorates will disappear. After all, if they are conceded to us, what will happen to this great majority? Today there is no third party to whom we can appeals have been witnessing things here. If anything happens in East Punjab or if there is any untoward incident in Delhi itself we cannot go to the Governor-General or to any one else. We have to go to Sardar Patel, because he has become the final arbiter of the fate of the minorities.
What use is then that people should cite history. which ‘history is as dead as bones’? Surely, there were very serious objections. Rightly or wrongly the Muslims did not realise that separate electorates were the cause of dividing communities. But today those arguments do not hold. If you conceded separate electorates, the Muslim community feels that they will help in returning their true representatives. representatives who will lay before you–not to any other power, not to any other Government, not even to Pakistan–our grievances and our claims. therefore I beg of you and beg of this House to consider the new situation in which this question is being discussed.
…The question is: will the majority community here take into account the new situation in which this demand is made ? Cast away your suspicions. I know that there is a large body of opinion both outside and inside this House which is not prepared to cast away these suspicions which have been created in the past against the Muslims. I would beg of you to realise that when we here accepted the citizenship of this state, we meant to be honest, we meant to be sincere. We have got to live here as a minority but living as a minority and as a citizen does not mean that we have not got any rights to urge for our own community or we should desist from doing it. But if we do that, I hope the old suspicions will not be revived, because whatever happens, whatever the decision of the majority might be, take it from me that the Muslims will accept it. But it is up to you to see whether you should not consider this demand of the Muslims which they feel is likely to give them greater protection than otherwise, and see that, it is accepted by this House. Therefore without giving any other argument, because I have no arguments to advance, I only appeal to you to consider the situation in the light of the changed circumstances and believing that it is the majority alone on whom we are going to rely for our demand, I hope you will accept it.
The Honourable Pandit Govind Ballabh. Pant (UP – General): Mr. President, I regret that the mover of the resolution should have considered it necessary to introduce this subject at this stage and in the existing circumstances. I had thought that we had outgrown the stage when sentiment instead of reason used to overpower us. My friend the leader of the Muslim League Party asked us to take note of the changed circumstances, That is exactly what I ask him to do.
I regret very much that the magnitude of the great change that has come over this country has not been adequately appraised or appreciated. The mover does not seem to realise that since 15th August the administration of this country has been made over lock stock and barrel to the People of this country. I may also assure him and those associated with him that I am trying to look at the question exclusively from the point of view of the minorities. I am one of those who feel that the success of democracy is to be measured by the amount of confidence that it generates in different sections of the community. I believe that every citizen in a free State should be treated in such a manner that not only his material wants but also his spiritual sense of self-respect may be fully satisfied. I also believe that the majority community should, while considering these questions, not only try to do justice, but throughout it should be informed and inspired by genuine feelings of regard for the minorities and all its decisions should be actuated by a real sense of understanding and sympathy.
So when I am opposing this motion, it is because I am convinced that it would be suicidal for the minorities themselves if the system of separate electorates were countenanced and upheld now. In fact, we seem to forget the great change. as I said which has come over the political status of our country. In the olden days, whatever be the name under which our Legislatures functioned, in reality they were no more than advisory bodies. The ultimate power was vested in the British and the British Parliament was the ultimate arbiter of our destiny. So long as the power was vested in the foreigners, I could understand the utility of separate electorates. Then perhaps the representatives of different communities could pose as the full-fledged advocates of their respective communities) and as the decision did not rest with the people of the country they could satisfy themselves with that position.
But it is not merely a question of advocacy now. It is a question of having an effective decisive voice in the affairs and in the deliberations of the Legislatures and the Parliament of this free country…In the new status that we have now secured, every citizen in this country should in my opinion be able to rise to the fullest stature and always have the opportunity of influencing the decisions effectively; so I believe separate electorates will be suicidal to the minorities and will do them tremendous harm. If they are isolated for ever, they can never convert themselves into a majority and the feeling of frustration will cripple them even from the very beginning.
What is it that you desire and what is our ultimate objective? Do the minorities always want to remain as minorities or do they ever expect to form an integral part of a great nation and as such to guide and control its destinies? If they do, can they ever achieve that aspiration and that ideal if they are isolated from the rest of the community? I think it would be extremely dangerous for them if they were segregated from the rest of the community and kept aloof in an airtight compartment where they would have to rely on others even for the air they breathed. I want them to have a position in which their voice may cease to be discordant and shrill but may become powerful. The minorities if they are returned by separate electorates can never have any effective voice.
…Do they want to have any share in the Government of the country and in its administration? I tell you, you cannot have a genuine seat in the Cabinet if you segregate yourself from the rest of the community, for the Cabinet can only act as a team in a harmonious manner and unless every member of the Cabinet is answerable to a common electorate the Cabinet cannot function in a fruitful manner. Are you prepared to give up your right of representation in the Government? And will you be satisfied with the pitiable position of being no more than advocates–if advocates alone you wish to be-when your advocacy will be treated, if not with scorn and ridicule, but in any case with utter disregard and unconcern, which is bound to be the case when those who are judges are not in any way answerable to your electorate? Your safety lies in making yourselves an integral Dart of the organic whole which forms the real genuine State.
Do you want a real national secular State or a theocratic State? If the latter, then in this Union of India a theocratic State can be only a Hindu State. Will it be to your interest to isolate yourself in such a manner? Will this State care for those who have no share or voice in the election of the representatives who will have real control of the affairs of the State? Will anything be more dangerous than that? Then you have also to consider, if such a system is introduced, how it will react on you now and hereafter. If you have separate electorates for the minorities, the inevitable result is that the majority becomes isolated from the minorities, and being thus cut off from the minorities, it can ride rough-shod upon them.
So I ask you whether you want the majority to be cut off in such a way that the majority will not be answerable to anybody belonging to your community and no one in the majority will have to care for your sentiments or for the reactions of his acts on you and your associates? Nothing will be more harmful than that. And do you not see the signs today? Do you not see the upsurge of communal passions even in quarters which had remained uncontaminated in the past? I have no doubt that from whichever point of view you may look at it, it will be extremely detrimental to your interests if you now clamour for separate electorates. Apart from other things it is an obsolete anachronism today. In a free country nobody has ever heard of separate electorates. After all, what is the essence of democracy? For the success of democracy one must train himself in the art of self-discipline. In democracies one should care less for himself and more for others. There cannot be any divided loyalty. All loyalties must exclusively be centered round the State. If in a democracy, you create rival loyalties, or you create a system in which any individual or group, instead of suppressing his extravagance, cares nought for larger or other interests, then democracy is doomed. So, separate electorates are not only dangerous to the State and to society as a whole, but they are particularly harmful to the minorities.
We all have had enough of this experience, and it is somewhat tragic to find that all that experience should be lost and still people should hug the exploded shibboleths and slogans. In the olden days one could have shouted like that; but now, especially these days when we are seeing all the orgies of violence before our very eyes when we are every hour hearing the harrowing tales of massacres, of rapine, of plunder, of rape and what not, which make everyone of us hang his head in shame if not to hang himself by the neck, then I say, does it not occur to you that we have paid amply for this abominable cult of separation and we must grow wise?
We are now going to be free and we have paid a price for this freedom; we have Pakistan on the one side and the Union of India or Hindustan on the other side. There has been too much talk of treating the Muslims as aliens in Hindustan or the Hindus as aliens in Pakistan. Will this institution of separate electorates encourage the disruptive tendencies or will it bring about that cohesion without which neither state can exist? Do you want the citizens of one State to look to their co-religionists in the other State for their protection, or do you want them to be treated as equal citizens of their own free sovereign State? I want all minorities to have an honourable place in this Union of India. I want them to have full opportunities for self-realisation and self-fulfilment. I want this synthesis of cultures to go on so that we may have a State in which all will live as brothers and enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices of those who gave their all for the achievement of this freedom, fully maintaining and observing and following the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity. (Loud cheers).
Mr. President: We shall rise now and meet again at 3 O’clock.
Some Members: The question may be put.
Mr. President: If that is the wish of the Assembly, I shall put the closure. The question is: that the question be now put.
Mr. President: I call upon the Honourable Sardar Patel to reply, if he wishes to say any thing.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: Sir, I will not take much time I was sorry to learn that this question was taken seriously because when this question came before the Advisory Committee there was not so much debate as I heard here today. My friends of the Muslim League here who moved this amendment and supported it took it for granted that they had a duty to perform in a sense. They had been pressing for separate electorates and enjoying it for a long time and felt that they should not leave it all of a sudden, but just move the motion and have the vote of the House. But when I heard the elaborate speeches I thought that I was living in the ages in which the communal question was first mooted.
I had not the occasion to hear the speeches which were made in the initial stages when this question of communal electorates was introduced in the Congress; but there are many eminent Muslims who have recorded their views that the greatest evil in this country which has been brought to pass is the communal electorate. The introduction of the system of communal electorates is a poison which has entered into the body politic of our country. Many Englishmen who were responsible for this also admitted that. But today, after agreeing to the separation of the country as a result of this communal electorate, I never thought that that proposition was going to be moved seriously, and even if it was moved seriously, that it would be taken seriously.
Well, when Pakistan was conceded, at least it was assumed that there would be one nation in the rest of India–the 80 per cent India–and there would be no attempt to talk of two nations here also. It is no use saying that we ask for separate electorates, because it is good for us. We have heard it long enough. We have heard it for years, and as a result of this agitation we are now a separate nation. The agitation was that “we are a separate nation, we cannot have either separate electorates or weightage or any other concessions or consideration sufficient for our protection. Therefore, give us a separate State”. We said, “All right, take your separate State”. But in the rest of India, in the 80 per cent of India, do you agree that there shall be one nation? Or do you still want the two-nations talk to be brought here also?
I am against separate electorates. Can you show me one free country where there are separate electorates? If so, I shall be prepared to accept it. But in this unfortunate country if this separate electorate is going to be persisted in, even after the division of the country, woe betide the country; it is not worth living in. Therefore, I say, it is not for my good alone, it is for your own good that I say it, forget the past. One day, we may be united. I wish well to Pakistan. Let it succeed. Let them build in their own way, Let them prosper. Let us enter into a rivalry of prosperity, but let us not enter into that rivalry that is going on today in the land of Pakistan.
You do not know that we are sitting in Delhi on a volcano. You do not know the strain that is being put on us because of what is happening near about. My friend the Mover of the amendment says the Muslim community today is a strong-knit community, Very good; I am glad to hear that, and therefore I say you have no business to ask for any props, (Cheers). Because there are other minorities who are not well-organised, and deserve special consideration and some safeguards, we want to be generous tothem.
But at the same time, as you have enjoyed this to a certain extent for a long time and you may not feel that there is discrimination, we agree to reservation according to population basis. Where is that kind of reservation in any other free country in the world? Will you show me? I ask you. You are a very well-organised community. Tell me, why do you behave like a lame man? Be a bold and a strong man, as you are well-organised and stand up. Think of the nation that is being built on this side. We have laid the foundation of a nation. From now, under this new constitution, Chaudhuri Khaliquzzaman says the British element is gone, and therefore forget the suspicious. The British element is gone, but they have left the mischief behind. We do not want to perpetuate that mischief. (Hear, hear). When the British introduced this element they had not expected that they will have to go so soon. They wanted it for their easy administration. That is all right. But they have left the legacy behind. Are we to get out of it or not ?
Therefore I say, and appeal to you. What are you doing? Think about it. Do you expect any one man in this country outside the Muslim League who will say ‘Let us now also agree to separate electorates’? Why do you do this If you say “We want now to have loyalty” on this side to this nation”, may I ask you “Is this loyalty Are you provoking response of loyalty from the other side?” I have no intention to speak on this, but when the Mover of this amendment talked such a long time and it was supported by the Leader, then I felt that there is something wrong again still is this land. Therefore, my dear friends, I ask you “Do you want now peace in this land? If so do away with it; you can do no harm either to Pakistan or India or anything, but only you will have all over the country what is happening in this country near about us; if you do want it, you can have it.” But I appeal to you “Let us at least on this side show that everything is forgotten” and if we want to forget, then let us forget what has been done in the past and also what is responsible for all that is happening today. Therefore, I once more appeal to you to withdraw the amendment and let us pass this unanimously. so that the world outside will also understand that we are united. (Cheers).
Honourable Members: Withdraw
Mr. President: I have to put the amendment first to vote.
The motion was negatived.
Mr. President: I now put the original motion to vote. It reads:
“All elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures will be held on the basis of joint electorates.”
The House then adjourned till 3 of the Clock in the afternoon.
Tomorrow: Afternoon Session, 27 August 1947