Congress Rule 1937
Congress Rule 1937
Government of India Act, 1935:
The Government of India Act, 1935 was formulated after long deliberations but was not fully promulgated but the only provincial part was introduced in the country, the central part was not introduced. The British govt deliberated on it and then the British parliament passed this law and then the king signed this law and this became the govt of India Act of 1935, under which the elections of 1937 would be held elections were held. The Muslim League criticized this law for a number of reasons and the same was the case with the Congress party but agreed to contest provincial elections to make advantage of the opportunities being provided under the govt of India Act.
The 1937 Elections:
Provincial elections were held in British India in the winter of 1936-37 as mandated by the Government of India Act 1935. Elections were held in eleven provinces – Madras, Central Provinces, Bihar, Orissa,United Provinces, Bombay Presidency, Assam, NWFP, Bengal,Punjab and Sindh. The final results of the elections were declared in February 1937. TheIndian National Congress emerged in power in all the provinces except for three – Bengal, Punjab, and Sindh. The All-India Muslim Leaguefailed to form the government in any province. The Congress ministries resigned in October and November 1939, in protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow’s action of declaring India to be a belligerent in the Second World War without consulting the Indian people.
The 1937 election was the first in which large masses of Indians were eligible to participate. An estimated 30.1 million persons, including 4.25 million women, had acquired the right to vote (14% of the total population), and 15.5 million of these, including 917,000 women, actually did exercise their franchise. The results were in favour of the Indian National Congress. Of the total of 1,585 seats, it won 707 (44.6%). Among the 864 seats assigned “general” constituencies, it contested 739 and won 617. Of the 125 non-general constituencies contested by Congress, 59 were reserved for Muslims and in those the Congress won 25 seats, 15 of them in the entirely-Muslim North-West Frontier Province. The All-India Muslim League won 106 seats (6.7% of the total), placing it as second-ranking party. The only other party to win more than 5 percent of all the assembly seats was the Unionist Party (Punjab), with 101 seats.
Main articles: Madras Presidency legislative assembly election, 1937 and Madras Presidency legislative council election, 1937 In Madras, the Congress won 74% of all seats, eclipsing the incumbent Justice Party (21 seats). 
Main article: Sind legislative assembly election, 1937
The Sind Legislative Assembly had 60 members. The Sind United Party emerged the leader with 22 seats, and the Congress secured 8 seats. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had tried to set up a League Parliamentary Board in Sindh in 1936, but he failed, though 72% of the population was Muslim. Though 34 seats were reserved for Muslims, the Muslim League could secure none of them.
The UP legislature consisted of a Legislative Council of 52 elected and 6 or 8 nominated members and a Legislative Assembly of 228 elected members: some from exclusive Muslim constituencies, some from “General” constituencies, and some “Special” constituencies. The Congress won a clear majority in the United Provinces, with 133 seats,  while the Muslim League won only 27 out of the 64 seats reserved for Muslims.
In three additional provinces, Central Provinces, Bihar, and Orissa, the Congress won clear majorities. In Bombay, where it fell just short of gaining half the seats, it was able to draw on the support of some small pro- Congress groups to form a working majority. In Assam its 33 seats, out of a total of 108, also made it the strongest single party, though it was not in a position to form a ministry. It was part of the ruling coalition. In the overwhelmingly Muslim North-West Frontier Province, Congress won 19 out of 50 seats and was able, with minor party support, to form a ministry. The Unionist Party under Sikander Hyat Khan formed the government in Punjab with 95 out of 175 seats. The Congress won 18 seats and the Akali Dal, 10. In Bengal, though the Congress was the largest party (with 52 seats), The Krishak Praja Party of A. K. Fazlul Huq(with 36 seats) was able to form a coalition government.
The Muslim League
The election results were a blow to the League. After the election,Muhammad Ali Jinnah of the League offered to form coalitions with the Congress. The League insisted that the Congress should not nominate any Muslims to the ministries, as it (the League) claimed to be the exclusive representative of Indian Muslims. This was not acceptable to the Congress, and it declined the League’s offer.
Projection of Congress:
The Congress projected itself as an all-India force representing all religions and factions of the society. The Muslim League contested for the Muslim seats. The ML focused only on the Muslims because it claimed to be the sole representative of the Muslims. There was a tough competition from the other Muslim organizations in different provinces which were also claiming to be the representatives of the Muslims. In this way the ML was not only competing with the Congress only but with a number of other Muslim groups and political parties at the provincial level.
The elections were completed in February 1937. And if we look at the results of these elections we find that the Congress got majorities in five provinces and the provinces from where the Congress got very clear majority were Madras, U.P(United province as it was known at that time), C.P.(central province), Bihar, and Orissa. It emerged as the largest party in Bombay and won 704 out of 1585 general seats which were reserved for the Non-Muslims. But the Congress got less than 30 seats reserved for the Muslims.
Performance of Muslim League:
The Muslim League performed poorly in the elections and got only about 21 percent of Muslim seats without winning majority anywhere, Bengal, Punjab, NWFP, and Sind. These seats were won by local Muslims political parties. It was mostly due to the organizational problems and opposition by local Muslim groups. And ML failed poorly in these provinces. In the Muslim majority provinces seats were very limited which the ML got, in case of Bengal it got only a few seats.
The most interesting situation developed in the province ofPunjab which was a Muslim majority province. Here the Unionist Party was leading and ML got only two seats and out of those two members who were elected from the ML seats and one of them left the ML and joined the unionist party and the result was that the ML was left only with one member in theprovince of Punjab. The ML performed relatively well in the Muslim minority provinces but overall it was a weak performance. The reason was that the ML was still facing organizational problems.
Return of Quaid-e-Azam:
Quaid-e-Azam returned to India from England in 1934 and he took command of the ML and began to organize the ML but 3 years that is from 1934 to 1937 was a brief period and therefore the ML was facing organizational problems. Furthermore, the ML was facing tough competition in Muslim majority provinces by other Muslim organizations and Muslim groups therefore it could not establish its credentials in the elections of 1937 as the sole representatives of the Muslims of India.
Congress appeared as the successful party in the election but it could not win even the 40% of the total seats. It won only 750 seats out of 1,771 seats in the eleven provinces undermining the claim of the Congress that it represented 95% of the total Indian population. It won only 26 seats out of 491 Muslim though Muslim League did not do well and won only 106 Muslims even on the Muslim seats. According to the final results of elections, Congress gained a clear majority in Behar, Orissa, Madras, U.P. and C.P. In Bombay and NWFP it was in position to form a coalition. Even in Sindh and Asam, it reserved its place by joining the ruling coalition. Praja Krishak Party of Maulvi Fazl- Haque formed its government in Bengal while Unionist Party of Sir Fazl-e- Hussain made its government in Punjab. Jinnah extended his desire to join the Congress which was rejected by the later. Congress delayed the formation of its ministries for four months demanding that the Governor would not interrupt the legislative affairs. The demand was finally answered and the Congress ministries were formed in July 1937.
The Congress declared Hindi as the national language and Congress flag was granted the status of national flag. The ‘Puja’ of Gandhi’s picture in schools was made compulsory and cow slaughter was declared as prohibited. Bande Matram (an anti- Muslim song sung in schools which was written in Ananda Math, a novel by Bankim Chandra Chatterji) was made the national anthem of India. Hindus started beating drums during the prayer times in the mosques while the construction of new mosques for the Muslims was banned. The Muslims’ protest against the injustices of the Hindus resulted in the imprisonment of the former. Even in the Court of justices, the Hindus pressurized the judges to go against the Muslims. In the domain of education, the Congress played its venomous role by initiating the “Warda Educational Scheme” aiming at indoctrinating the Hindu ideology and mythology into children.
In C.P. and Bihar, Mander education was made compulsory at the elementary level under the “Widya Mander Scheme”. The Muslims were deprived of employment in the Congress-held provinces. Also the agriculture and trade for the Muslims was made hard. The atrocities of the Congress Ministries exceeded their limit and the Muslim League framed a report on the brutality of the Hindus. The report was called Pirpur Report under the chairmanship of Raja Mohammad Mehdi of Pirpur. There were some other reports made on the evil practices of the Congress Ministries e.g. “The Sharif Report” and “Muslim Sufferings under Congress Rule” by A.K. Fazl-ul- Haque. Even the British officials were induced to say that the Congress only represented the Hindus in a fanatic way.muslim League formed, under the chairmanship of Raja Syed Muhammad Mahdi of Pirpur, the “Pirpur Report”, to investigate Muslim grievances.
Other reports concerning Muslim grievances in Congress run provinces were A. K. Fazlul Haque’s “Muslim sufferings under Congress rule”, and “The Shareef Report”. The allegation that Congress was representing Hindus only was voiced also by eminent British personalities, e.g. The Marquees of Lothian in April 1938 termed the Congress rule as a “rising tide of Hindu rule”. Sir William Barton writing in “National Review” in June 1939 also termed the Congress rule as “the rising tide of political Hinduism”. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Viceroy proclaimed India’s entry into it without prior consultations with the main political parties. When Congress demanded an immediate transfer of power in return for cooperation of the war efforts, the British government refused, as a result Congress resigned from power.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 December 2016
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