Maulana As President of Congress and Indian National Movement

The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.

Maulana As President of Congress and Indian National Movement

As President of Congress

Do we not realize that self respect comes with self reliance?

Maulana Azad was elected president of the Indian National Congress twice first in 1923 and then in 1940. Both these years were full of hectic political activity and needed statesman of great vision, able to carry diverse section of opnion with him, to be a pilot of the ship.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad As President of Congress 1
Maulana Azad proved his mettle as the leader of the Nation. Any one else in his position might not have been able to demonstrate the courage and determination with which he bore the responsibility of the great office for six long years.

In 1923, the main problem was to maintain the unity of Indian National Congress while in 1940 it was to maintain the unity of the country. The Congress of the 1923 was divided over the issue of council entry. Maulana presented the compromise formula for the two conflicting schools of thought Those who believed in the council entry programme were permitted to do it in order to capture those bodies and non-co-operate from within. Those who did not believe in the council entry programme were permitted to do it in order to capture those bodies and non-co-operate from within. Those who did not believe in the programme of council entry were asked to devote themselves to carrying out the constructive programme of the Congress. It saved the Congress from the division and split.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, another towering personality, and Maulana’s contemporary wrote “he deeply impressed his colleagues by his capacity to reconcile conflicting view points and bringing about amity in the midst of diversity.”

Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Pt. Nehru, Ansari Brothers and Mani Ben Patel liked and respected Maulana for his tremendous personal abilities of organizing, resolving conflicts and advancing in his mission undeterred.

Maulana himself believed that “either develop a temperament which adopts to every situation in the world or muster courage to overlook or pass over the world aound, and Maulana adopted the second course in all his missions from personal to political.

Maulana Azad believed in persuading Indian Muslims to give up the political aloofness and take active part in national movement and politics. He was a great protagonist of Muslims claiming their due participation in politics and being part of the independent India contrary to the seclusionist and segregating as was been advocated by Muslim league. Which was out to divide India.

In August 1942, as son as the Quit India Movement began, the government arrested the top leaders of the country. Abul Kalam was also put under house arrest in Ahmedanagar fort.

When Maulana Azad was in jail, his wife and his sister died. Had he desired, he could have begged the British government for pardon and came out of jail on parole. But it was beyond his dignity.

In June 1945, when Round table conference was held in Shimla, Maulana Azad had been released by then. He explicitly stated India’s position in the conference organised by Lord Wavell on the advice of the British government.

In 1946, the Cabinet Mission, which came to India from England, spoke to Indian leaders again. In this meeting, Maulana Azad stated that the Congress wanted ‘Poorna Swaraj’. In order to prepare the nation for complete freedom, the government announced a general election.

Congress had a complete sway in the elections. Barring two or three provinces, the Congress government was formed all over India. Maulana Azad also won the election.

On the demand of the Muslim League, on August 14, 1947, India was divided and Pakistan was formed. At the same time, communal riots broke out. Maulana Azad was deeply pained by the division of India. His dream of Hindu-Muslim unity was finally shattered.

Maulana Azad became Education Minister in Nehru’s cabinet in independent India. He undertook several measures for the educational and cultural development of the nation. He laid the foundation for the education of children and adults. The constitution of the University Grants Commission and the development of technical and practical education are his great contribution to education. The constitution of All India Council of Technical Education for the comprehensive development of technical education became possible due to his efforts.

It was Maulana Azad’s efforts due to which the Hindi words for scientific and technical subjects were developed and compiled. The Ministry of Education completed this task under his leadership. He actively contributed to the formation of Sahitya Akademi, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Lalit Kala Academy for literary and cultural development of the nation.

In 1951, 1952 and 1955, Maulana Azad was the deputy leader of the Congress parry in the Parliament. He consistently had his influence in the Congress.

Indian National Movement

If we are not Free, no one will respect us.

The Congress gave British government one year notice to fulfill its demands. The British refused to comply and Congress in 1930 declared to launch the Salt Satyagraha. Mahatma Gandhi and stalwart Congress leaders unanimously decided to violate the salt law. The movement gathered momentum and the British government declared Congress party as an unlawful organization and ordered the arrest of its office bearers and workers. But before the arrest all Congressmen decided to nominate a member each so that movement could be carried out by the second rung of leadership. Maulana Azad appointed Dr. Ansari before his arrest. He was put in Meerut jail for a period of one and half years.

Lord Irwin released Gandhiji and other members of the working committee who met first at Allahabad then at Delhi and finally a Gandhi-lrwin Pact was signed which led to the release of all Congressmen and grant participation of Congress in the round table conference.

Mahatma Gandhi was sent as India’s ambassador to the round table conference. But he returned from London empty- handed. The British launched a policy of fresh repression thereafter.

In the meanwhile Lord Willingdon was appointed as new Viceroy. He took very strong action against Congressmen. All Congress leaders were re-arrested and detained where ever they were in the country. Maulana was detained at Delhi and sent to jail for one year. In Modern India’s political History this perhaps was the most significant turning point. Around 1935 government of India act was passed, which provided provincial autonomy and federal government.

The first ever election held after the introduction of provincial autonomy, the Congress won an overwhelming victory. It almost secured absolute majority in five major provinces and was the single largest party in four provinces.

But Congress was reluctant to join the power as British had vested powers with the governors. The governors were empowered to suspend the constitution and assume all powers themselves. This gave Congress leadership to understand that as long as the governor wished he would allow the government to function and he would disband it any time he wish. This issue concerned Congress and forced its members not to join the government. The princes and other vested groups were some how with the British.

Congress was fighting for complete independence and condemned outrightly the type of federation that British had proposed. The accession of the congress party was of the opinion that Congressmen should not join the government and some even went to an extent to boycott the election. A section of Congress leaders were of the view that if Congress leadership did not join the government, less desirable elements would capture central and provincial leadership, and thus Congress would lose an opportunity of having to be on the forefront. Differences within Congress leadership were apparent and Maulana argued that if “Special powers were reserved to the governor, provincial autonomy was a mockery”.

Congress was keen to strengthen its hold on popular public imagination. There were two views of having to join the government or not to join the government. The opinion tilted in favour of having to join the government and if for some reason or dispute the Congress ministry go out on a popular issue, the popular mass imagination will find strength. While this debate was going ori, interim ministries were formed in all provinces by non-Congress men and at times by anti-Congress elements.

The Congress indecision to join the government led to a division of opinion within its rank. It allowed reactionary forces and opportunity to get over the shock and retrieve the lost ground. Prolonged negotiations with the Viceroy led to an assurance that governors would not interfere with the work of ministries and Congress ultimately joined the government.

This was the first occasion that the Congress was entrusted with the responsibility of the administration.

The Muslim League’s propaganda against the Congress had been that the Congress was national only for names sake and it discriminated against minorities. Maulana kept refuting time and again that this was merely a propaganda, and there was no truth about it.

The Congress suffered another setback. It got vertically divided between rightist and leftist. The Swaraj party and the Congress though see igly two wings of the same stem— Congress party and Swaraj party were now different. Swaraj party had larger following both in the central as well as the provincial legislature. The Swaraj party was founded by C.R. Das. Pt. Moti Lai and Hakim Ajmal Khan. In all the provincial and central assembly elections the Swaraj party had won a very large majority. Its most remarkable achievement had been its success in achieving seats reserved for Muslims.

Muslim league had been able to play upon the fears and apprehensions of Muslims of Bengal that Muslims would be left behind. This claim was refuted by the Swaraj party move of having Muslim candidates return to legislature. Thus the communal problem of Bengal was solved.

Maulana Azad strongly advocated that the Provincial Congress Committee of Bihar and Bombay had erred in denying local leadership to Mr. Nanman and Sayed Mehmud. He also pointed out that so long as Muslims were not properly represented in public life. There could not be a true democracy but his convictions were all belied.

A parliamentary board was constituted immediately after Congress accepted office. The board consisted of Sardar Patel. Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Maulana Abul Kaiam Azad. This was perhaps the first time that Maulana was made incharge of parliamentary affairs in several provinces viz Bengal, Bihar, UP, Punjab, Sindh and the Frontier province. Every issue came up before Maulana Azad for review and he examined all charges levelled by Mr Jinnah and Muslim league about injustice to Muslims and other minorities. Maulana found all such charges as false and even admitted that even if there had been an iota of truth in anyone of these charges he would have rectified the injustice and was even prepared to resign his position.

Maulana never identified himself with any particular section of the Congress. On the contrary he tried to bring together the pro-changers and no-changers in Congress. In early twenties and during the thirties when Congress was divided between left and the right ideology. The rightist were champions of vested interest while leftist were of revolutionary zeal who wanted to work for the welfare of the masses. Maulana had the sympathy for the leftist. He was able to mediate between the right and the left and worked his way towards planning program for Congress elections of 1939. But he could not achieve much as the war broke in Europe.

The Congress totally disassociated itself with the British foreign policy which supported the fascist Germany and helped destruction of democratic countries. Maulana even commented that Congress was opposed to imperialism and fascism and believed that world peace and progress would be possible only by ending the war. Mahatma Gandhi wanted that Congress working committee in India must declare its stand on the international crises. His view was that India must not participate in war to any circumstances even if such participation meant achievement of Indian freedom.

Maulana Azad was in conflict with Gandhi’s view. He believed that Europe was divided in two camps—Naziism and Fasism on the one hand and democratic forces on the other. He wanted India to participate with democratic Europe and not be a silent expectator of the war. India ought to fight for her own democracy as well as the democracy of all other nations.

United Kingdom declared war against Germany on 3rd September 1939 and appealed to all members of common wealth to do so. In the case of India the Viceroy on his own declared war against Germany without having the approval of the Central legislature. Gandhiji was in a state of mental stress. The Congress faced the dilemma of having to be quiet or aligning with democratic forces in the war.

This was just about the time that question of Congress presidentship assumed a new importance. Since Maulana had refused to accept this position on an earlier occasion a year before due to his differences with Gandhiji on India’s participation in war. Maulana Azad felt that India should have no hesitation in aligning herself with democratic powers.

Maulana Azad never identified himself with any group in Congress. He, on the contrary, had been an efficient mediator among them. His major discontent had been India’s stand on war as enunciated by Gandhiji who stressed that Congress was not to participate in the war under any condition. Maulana was rather of the view that as a political organization Congress should not just sit quiet while tremendous events are taking place throughout the world. Gandhiji was opposed to any movement as it could be only on the issue of Indian freedom and would carry the implications that once freedom was gained, India would participate in war.

After the meeting at Delhi and Poona when British refused the Congress offer of co-operation Gandhiji thought of limited civil disobedience movement. He proposed that men and women in India should individually oppose and protest against dragging India into the war. They should court arrest. Thus an extensive anti-war movement could begin. Maulana did not agree to this proposal of Mahatma Gandhi but finally he conceded and agreed that Individual Satyagraha movement should start. Vinoba Bhave was selected as first individual Satyagrahi. A number of others followed soon and a nation wide movement of Individual Satyagrah began.

Maulana Azad radically differed from Gandhiji in his attitude towards non-violence. The actual programme followed was one on which both Gandhiji and Maulana Azad had agreement. While traveling to Punjab in order to save a Satyagrahi, Maulana was arrested by a British Superintendent of police as he was going from his compartment to the dining car in order to have his morning tea. Maulana quipped to the British superintendent of police, “You have arrested me before I could do the Satyagraha”. Maulana Azad was imprisoned for two years and detained at Naini Jail. Dr. Kailash Nath Katju joined him later at Naini.

Two events changed the character of war—First, Germany attacked Russia in June 1941; and within six months Japan struck Pearl Harbour. These two events made the war truly global. Japan’s astonishing success brought United States into turmoil and in turn brought the war night to door steps of India. Japan had over-run Malaya and Singapore. Soon Burma, which before 1937 had been part of India was occupied. Situations seemed imminent that India herself would be attacked. Japanese ships had already moved to Bay of Bengal and soon the Andaman and Nicobar Island fell to the Japanese Navy.

Japan’s entry in war forced USA to face direct responsibility of war. President Roosevelt immediately after attack on Pearl Harbour requested the British Government that Indian leaders should be conciliated. The Government of India could not altogether ignore these requests. In December, 1941 Viceroy decided to release Maulana Azad and Jawahar Lal Nehru. The move was intended to test the Congress reaction to the changed situation of war. The government wanted to watch the reactions of Indian Congress leaders as well.

So long as Nehru and Maulana Azad were under arrest, no meeting of the working committee could be held. Immediately on the release, Maulana Azad convened a meeting of working committee at Bardoli. He reached Bardoli to find out that differences between him and Gandhiji had widened.

In Maulana’s opinion the British were keen to seek India’s cooperation in war and they were not yet ready to recognize India as free. Gandhiji and Congress leadership had differences on this issue. He held unchangeable attitudes towards war which left no room for further negotiations. Gandhiji kept maintaining that non-violence was a creed and in no circumstance it should be given up and therefore India must not enter into the war.

Maulana Azad repeatedly stressed that Congress must place greater emphasis on freedom of India than on non¬violence as a creed. Such diametrically opposed opinion within Congress caused simmering. Subhash Chandra Bose had started a campaign for active opposition to the war effort. The political situation of India changed. Bose was arrested and released when he undertook a fast on January 26, 1941. It became known that Bose had left India. For a year nobody heard of him. There was no trace whether he was alive or dead.

In March, 1942 surprise struck, Subhash Chandra Bose had reached Germany and made a speech which was broadcast from Berlin Radio. Bose was attempting to organize anti- British front from there. The Japanese propaganda against British occupation of India gained intensity. The German and Japanese stand on India’s freedom was clear. Japanese promised and believed that it was working for Indian freedom and Asian solidarity. The Japanese attacks weakned British power and helped India’s Freedom Struggle.