Sundarrajk's Weblog

Minority Against Reservation – Why were they disregarded?

Posted on: August 26, 2015

In trying to blog about the reservation demand by Patels I came across this very interesting arguments posed by Mr. Tajamul Hussain and Mr. R. K. Sidhva during the formation of the Constituent Assembly. It came as a welcome surprise to see such words spoken.

Mr. Tajamul Hussain had this to say during the discussion of if the minorities should be granted special status in terms of electoral and other types of reservations. Please take the trouble to read through. Do not put this in the tl;dr category. It is something every Indian should read. At least pay attention to the highlighted words. It shows how enlightened the person was.

“Mr. President, Sir, reservation of seats in any shape or form and for any community or group of people is, in my opinion, absolutely wrong in principle. Therefore I am strongly of opinion that there should be no reservation of seats for anyone and I, as a Muslim, speak for the Muslims. There should be no reservation of seats for the Muslim community. (Hear, Hear). I would like to tell you that in no civilised country where there is parliamentary system on democratic lines, there is any reservation of seats. Take the case of England. The House of Commons is the mother of parliaments. There is no reservation of seats for community there. No doubt they had reservation of seats for the universities but even that has been abolished. What is reservation, Sir? Reservation is nothing but a concession, a safeguard a protection for the weak. We, Muslims do not want any concession, do not want protection, do not want safeguards. We are not weak. This concession would do more harm than good to the Muslims. Reservation is forcing candidates on unwilling electorates. Whether the electorates want us or not, we thrust ourselves on them. We do not want to thrust ourselves on unwilling electorates. The majority community will naturally think that we are encroaching upon their rights. We do not want them to think that. We must expert ourselves. Separate electorates have been a curse to India, have done incalculable harm to this country. It was invented by the British. Reservation is the offspring of separate electorates. Do not bring in reservation in the place of separate electorates. Separate electorates have barred our progress. Separate electorates have gone for ever. We desire neither reservation nor separate electorates. We want to merge in the nation. We desire to stand on our own legs. We do not want the support of anyone. We are not weak. We are strong. We are Indians first and we are Indians last. (Hear, Hear). We know of no other country, no other nation. We are all Indians and will remain Indians. We shall fight for the honour and glory of India and we shall die for it. (Applause). We shall stand united. There will be no divisions amongst Indians. United we stand; divided we fall. Therefore we do not want reservation. It means division. I ask the members of the majority community who are present here today: Will you allow us to march shoulder to shoulder with you? Will you allow us to share your sorrows grief and joy? If you do, then for god’s sake keep your hands off reservation for the Muslim community. We do not want statutory safeguard. As I said before, we must stand on our own legs. If we do that, we will have no inferiority complex. We are not inferior to you in any way there is no difference between you and me. Because we worship the same God by different names, in a different way, that is no reason why we should be considered a minority. We are not a minorities. The term `minority’ is a British creation. The British created minorities. The British have gone and minorities have gone with them. Remove the term `minority’ from your dictionary. (Hear, Hear). There is no minority in India. Only so long as there were separate electorates and reservation of seats there was a majority community and a minority community.
I ask the majority community not to distrust the minorities now. The minorities have adjusted themselves. I will give you a concrete example. You remember the Hyderabad incident; you remember that before you took police action against Hyderabad, what happened. The majority community were afraid that there would be rioting of the Muslims if action was taken against Hyderabad. I was first man to speak about it about a year and half ago in the Central Legislature. I criticised the Government of India. I am sorry Sardar Patel was not present at that time when I was dealing with his portfolio, but my honourable Friend Mr. Gadgil was in charge. I criticised their action of the Government, I told them that they were absolutely mistaken in thinking that the Muslims would rise; they would adjust themselves. I said to them: “You march an army against Hyderabad and with in couple of days, you would take the whole of Hyderabad.” I made a long speech and after my speech was over, there was a reply by the Honourable Minister in charge, Mr. Gadgil. He never spoke a single word about it and he never replied to my criticism, but I asked him: “You have replied to everybody’s criticism. Why not mine? I asked you to march an army against Hyderabad; you would take Hyderabad within a couple of days and there would be no rioting.” Mr. Gadgil said: ” You are perfectly right and we will do it.”
I appeal to all minorities to join the majority in creating a secular State. In the new state of things, I want that every citizen in India should be able to rise to the fullest stature and that is why I say that reservation would be suicidal to the minority. I want the minorities to forget that they are minorities in politics. If they think they are minorities in politics, they will be isolated. If they are isolated, the feeling of frustration will cripple them. I do not want to remain minority. Do the minorities, I ask, expect to form part of the great nation and have a hand in the control of its destinies. Can they achieve that aspiration if they are isolated from the rest of India? The minorities if they are returned as minorities, i.e., by reservation of seats can never have an effective voice in the affairs of the country. They can never form a Government. Disraeli could never have formed a Government and could never have become the Prime Minister of England had there been reservation of seats for the Jews in England. I want the minorities to have an honourable place in the Union of India. National interests must always be placed over group interests. The minorities should look forward to the time when they could take their place not under communal or racial labels, but as part and parcel of the whole Indian community.
Now, Sir, with your permission, I want to say a few words with regard to the speeches made against the motion of Sardar Patel. I take first Mr. Muhammad Ismail of Madras. He wants separate electorate. I appeal to him not to ask the charity. Asking for separate electorates is nothing but asking for charity. I tell him that the consequences will be terrible. The majority community will never trust you then. You will never be able to exert yourself. You will be isolated, you will be treated as an alien and your position will be the same as that of the Scheduled Caste. You are not poor like the Scheduled Castes, you are not weak, you are not uneducated; you are not uncultured; you can always support yourself. You have produced brilliant men. So do not ask for protection or safeguard. You must get into the Assembly by open competition. The times have changed. Adjust yourself. You admitted yesterday in your speech that the atmosphere is better now. I appeal to you, do not spoil that atmosphere. Improve it, but do not spoil it an if you insist on separate electorate, you will spoil atmosphere very badly. If you get separate electorates, it will again become as bad as before. Say to yourself, Mr. Ismail, that you are an Indian first and an Indian last. Then you will forget all about separate electorates. You will never think of it again.
I will tell you, Sir, that when I had sent in my amendment to clause 292 that it should be deleted, that there should be not reservation of seats, then several Muslim friends to mine, who were for reservation of seats asked me. “Do you realize that the mentality of the Hindus is such at present that if there were no reservation of seats for the Muslims, the Muslims can never succeed?” That honourable gentleman for whom I have got great esteem told me: “Look at us. We have always been with the Congress; we have been to jail and all that. No doubt we will get a ticket from the Congress; many Muslims will get tickets from Socialists and Communists and from other organisations, but what about the electorates? They will never elect you and they will never elect us. So, if there is no reservation, no Muslims will get in because of the mentality of the Hindus.” I told him, Sir, what I am telling you now. I said that I entirely agreed with him that the mentality of the Hindus is such at present. I say to Mr. Ismail also that as long as there is reservation of seats or separate electorate the mentality of the Hindus will never change. You do away with these two things and the mentality will automatically change. I do not want to go into the history of this mentality. I am not going to apportion blame as that will take a long time and you have allotted me a short time and I want to be brief and finish my speech within the time. You all know how the mentality of the Hindus became such, but we have to live in this country, we must change their mentality and it is our duty to change their mentality and the only way the mentality can be changed is to become a part and parcel of the Indian Union. You should say that they are no longer our enemies and then they will be like brothers to us.
Now, Sir, with regard to Mr. Lari, he does not want separate electorates; he does not want reservation of seats; he has condemned both the systems and he says that both the systems are dangerous. He has said that, and I entirely agree with him. He has always opposed separate electorates, reservation of seats and the partition of the country. He is right. But he wants cumulative voting, that is, proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote, or something like that. My honourable Friend, Mr. Saksena has told us that it is a very cumbrous system of mathematical calculations; I am not dealing with that now. The only thing I want to say is that Mr. Lari wants to get into the Assembly by the back door. For example suppose there is a constituency that has to elect four candidates for the House or the People, and there are five candidates. One will be defeated and four will be elected. Out of these five, four are Hindus and one is a Muslim. The votes of the Hindus will be divided among the Hindus and there will get elected. The Muslim will get in on the Muslim votes. Again separate electorates, again reservation of seats. I should like to say to my honourable Friend Mr. Lari if I may say so, that is worse than separate electorate, as the method is not clean. It is not straightforward. I quite understand Mr. Mohamed Ismail’s view when he asks for separate electorates. That is a straightforward method. What is this back-door method of Mr. Lari. I do not understand. I am sure the Muslims do not like these crooked methods they want a straight, honourable fight. In spite of the fact that Mr. Lari has always openly opposed Pakistan, separate electorates and reservation of seats he still inferiority complex. I would ask his to shed this inferiority complex. The country will change for the better.
Last of all, I come to the speech of my honourable and esteemed friend, for whom I have very great regard, Sir Saadulla, the Ex-Premier of Assam. He complains before us that the majority of the Muslim members of the Advisory Committee on Minorities Fundamental Rights etc., did not support the resolution that there should be no reservation of seats for the Muslims. I have already told you, Sir, that I have very great esteem and regard for the Ex-premier of Assam, but I am afraid I must differ from him on this point. I sent my resolution to the Committee to the effect that there should be no reservation of seats. My resolution was discussed under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Sardar Patel. I spoke on my resolution. Begum Aizaz Rasul supported me. Maulana Azad was present there; he did not oppose me. The only person who opposed me was my honourable friend Jafar Imam, from Bihar. There too, I had a majority: Begum Aizaz Rasul. Maulana Azad and myself as against one. The meeting could not be finished and was adjourned sine die. Then it was held on the 11th of this month. I wanted to attend that meeting, particularly because my resolution was there I wanted to move it again. But I never received notice of the meeting. The notice was lying in Delhi; it never reached me. If I had got notice of the meeting. I would have attended it. When I came to Delhi, I learnt that there was the meeting that day. I was happy to learn that the substance of my resolution had been accepted though I was absent. I sent a statement to the Press why I could not attend the meeting that day and it was published in all the papers. Sir Saadulla could not attend the meeting; I do not know why. That meeting was attended by four honourable members: Maulana Azad, Maulana Hifizur Rahman, Begum Aizaz Rasul and Mr. Jaffar Imam. Maulana Azad and Maulana Hifizur Rehman did not oppose my resolution that there should be no reservation of seats. Every member of this House does not speak. If he opposes, he opposes. If he does not speak, but says “I vote for it”, then he is with it. Maulana Azad was present. If he wanted to oppose, he would have opposed. The two Maulanas did not oppose Begum Aizaz Rasul supported my resolution in substance. It was the same as my own. Begum Aizaz Rasul supported it. My honourable Friend Mr. Jaffar Imam opposed it. If the Maulana were not with my resolution, they would have sided with Jafar Imam. They said nothing. Votes were taken. There was a clear majority. The Honourable Sardar Patel, I understand, declared that the Muslims were in favour of the motion in spite of the two Maulanas remaining silent. It means that they were with me: three to one voting: there was a majority.
I have here a list of all the members. Briefly it shows that there are 31 members from the Provinces and 2 from the States, making a total of 33 Muslims. Out of these, 4 are from Madras and I must say that many of the members are permanently absent. As they have migrated to Pakistan, especially all the members from the Punjab, they have gone, and out of the 5 from Bengal 3 have migrated. Now, coming to the list, 4 from Madras are for separate electorates. There are only 23 member on the roll of the Constituent Assembly. 4 are of separate electorates, 4 for reservation of seats, 1 for cumulative voting, 1 unknown and 13 entirely for joint electorate, with no reservation of seats. If you add those who are not with me, they will come to only 10 and we are 13, and if I add Mr. Lari who too is not for reservation of seats or separate electorates, our number would be 14. Actually today there are 15 members present. And of them, 4 are for reservation of seats, 3 for separate electorates and the rest 8 are with me. Even then I have a majority.
Sir, I am finishing now. I only want to add this, I would ask the majority community, not to thrust reservation on the Muslims. If you honestly and sincerely believe that it is a wrong thing, for god’s sake, do not give us reservation. You knew that separate electorate was a wrong thing for the Muslims and for India, and you never consulted the Muslims. Sir Saadulla did not raise the objection that the Muslims were not consulted, and he accepted it, and why? Because honestly it was believed to be a bad thing for the country. We now say,”do not make us a minority community. Make us your equal partners, then there will be no majority or communities in India.”
Now, finally I may be permitted to say one thing and that is a very serious thing which I have not spoken yet on the floor of this House. But I feel there are some people strongly and vehemently opposed to me, and therefore I must give a warning. As you know, Sir, among Muslims there are two sections, call them sub-communities if you like, they are Shias and Sunnis. Out of the 31 members from the Provinces, I have the honour to be the sole Shia in this House. Out of the 2 members from the States, it is fifty, fifty, as one comes from one State and he is Shia and the other is a Sunni. And I would like to tell you that throughout the Shias have been opposing separate electorates, and have been opposing reservation of seats. They have always been nationalists. I was president of the Bihar Provincial Shia Conference for ten years, and throughout we have consistently said that we want joint electorate, pure and simple. Recently on 31st December 1948, there was the All India Shia Conference, the 35th session in Muzaffarnagar in U.P. which was presided over by Sir Sultan Ahmed, whom everybody knows. And the resolution was unanimously passed there that there should be no separate electorates and no reservation of seats. I went from her to attend the conference, and I will read out just a portion from the Presidential Address :- “The Draft Constitution provides that Reservations of Seats for Minorities will continue for ten years from now, by way of allowing handicap. It has been conceded in a kindly spirit of tolerance and fellow feeling and according to current principle of safeguarding the rights of minorities.” From this point of view is it perfectly intelligible. But to my mind it appears that the disease of separation is thereby suffered to be prolonged and the germ will continue to be at work for these ten years, with all its after-effects, however mildly it may operate. This reservation in a sense is a measure of dealing softly with a long standing prejudice and curing a trouble as imperceptibly as possible and avoid creating any impression of lack of sympathy on the part of the majority legislators. Could we however not take courage in both hands and abolish even separation of seats along with its greater evil the separation of electorates? Let no separation linger in any form, however innocent. Let us grow into a full bloom of trustfulness and oneness, allowing no speak of, no suggestion whatever of separatism and uncompromising in the past. We should wake up once for all in the glowing dawn of a great living and the historic atmosphere of a new freedom and fellowship may well be expected to give us the boldness to accept a complete code of co-operative life.
There is another ground why this speck of separatism should not be perpetuated. Other minorities will also be encouraged to demand it. Minority within a minority must be logically entitled to it and thus, far from adding and aiding unity, it will only serve to promote separatism and create sectional strife, leading to untold religious, social and political complications. Reservation carries with it as a corollary the maintenance of a communal political organisation and this must be avoided at all costs.

What a brilliant foresight. We can see that happening today. Mr. Tajamul Hussain was from Bihar, and today from the state of Bihar, we have Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Yadav and the likes. What contrast. What a fall it has been for our country.

It is unfortunate that our leaders chose to ignore such sensible talk and made reservation part of our constituent assembly. It has now stuck like a barnacle and is spreading its tentacles like a multi-headed hydra out to destroy the very fabric of our nation. To use a medical term is has de-differentiated and threatens to destroy our country. Time to wake up and fight against this demon.

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