This post analyzes the reasons responsible for the difference in the performance of the All India Muslim League in provincial elections of 1937 and general elections of 1946 elections.
The British held elections in provinces in 1937 to introduce representative government at the provincial level. All India Muslim League (AIML) was able to win only 108 seats out of 482 Muslim seats. On the contrary, Indian National Congress managed to win an overwhelming number of both Muslim and non-Muslim seats in the elections
Unlike 1937 elections, the league performed exceptionally well in the 1946 elections. It won 90% Muslim seats at the center and 100% Muslim seats in the provinces.
What were the reasons behind the difference in the performance of the Muslim League in the 1937 and 1946 elections?
The following were the reasons for the difference in Leagues’ performance in provincial elections of 1937 and general elections of 1945-46.
1. Muslim League as an inorganized Political Party
In 1937, the league was not a popular and organized party. It had no offices and impressive membership at the grass-root level. Consequently, it could not run an effective campaign in its favor.
On the contrary, Indian National Congress was a comparatively much popular and organized party. It enjoyed huge membership and support at the grassroots level. Being well organized and a widespread party the congress was able to run an effective election campaign and to win both Muslims and Hindu votes.
Unlike in 1937, the league had evolved into a popular and an organized political platform. The message of a separate homeland for Muslims of India had reached every nook and corner of the subcontinent. Now, the league could run an effective election campaign to garner the support and vote of people in its favor.
2. The prior bitter experience of Congress Rule
In 1937 Muslims of India supported the Congress in elections. Actually, they did not have a prior bitter experience of Congress as a ruling party. Had they have experience with anti-Muslim policies and actions, they would have not supported congress.
The situation of different in 1946. Muslim had the bitter experience of Congress rule 1937-39. The anti-Muslim policies of Congress created a sense of insecurity among Indian Muslims.
Muslims felt congress would impose Hindu Raj with the departure of the British from India. Their identity, culture, rights, and interests would be in danger. In this state of confusion and dilemma, the league’s demand for a separate homeland provided Muslims a direction and vision to pursue. A separate state would help them and get rid of Hindu Domination in the future.
Thus the bitter experience of Congress Rule 1937-39 was acted as one of the reasons to support the league in the 1945-46 elections.
3. Image of the league
In 1937 common Muslims considered the league as a party of elite Muslims. They thought Muslim businessmen, landlords, and religious clerics wanted to reinforce their position in the name of Muslims. On the other hand, they considered congress as a part of the common people. They thought Congress being a party of common people will at least listen to their grievances and work for their well
These were some of the main reasons behind support to Congress from Muslims and the failure of the All India Muslim League. On the other hand in 1945-46 Muslims owned the All India Muslim League as their party. They no longer considered it a party of elite Muslims as practical injustices and cruel anti-Muslim approach of Congress and Hindus had made Muslims insecure about their future. Now they could not trust the congress and its leaders’ claim to represent all Indians. Muslims had come to this realization that congress only represented Hindus and planned to impose Hindu Raj in India.