BackgroundIn spite of the concessions given by the Morely-Minto Reforms to the Muslims , relations between the Muslim League and the British government were strained . The Muslim League was outraged at what they viewed as British capitulation to Hindu demands in Bengal and the language issue. They had believed repeated British assurances that the partition of Bengal was final and there was no possibility of a reversal . Such serious and blatant backtracking by the British placed a question mark in Muslim minds over the credibility of future promises. The Muslims, who had viewed the British as a friendly ruling power since the work of Sir Syed, realized that they could not rely fully on the British in the future.
Muslim League RoleIn the next session of the Muslim League , held from December 1912 to january 1913, the role of the League was redefined from promoting loyalty to the government to a form of self-government suitable to India. Ironically, it was exactly this shift away from the British over the language question and Bengal , which moved the League closer to the Congress Party . The Congress now accepted that the Muslim League was not just a British front but an organization designed to protect Muslim interests. It was this recognition , plus further Muslim disillusionment with the British, which led to more common ground with the Congress. At this time a new figure was appearing on the scene , Muhammad Ali Jinnah . Jinnah in his early career was a member of both the Congress and the Muslim League and was well-known as a man free of any religious prejudice , as well as a brilliant advocate and debater. In 1915 , the Muslim , party with the urging of Jinnah , had included the demand for self-rule in their programme for the first time . This delighted the Congress and committees comprising the Congress and Muslim League were formed to try to reach some common grounds of understanding .
Lucknow PactThere was a simultaneous recognition within the British government that a further set of reforms needed to be implemented before the political situation deteriorated. In October 1916, 19 elected members of the Councils addressed a memorandum to the viceroy on the question of reforms . Amongst the proposals put forward were that :
- The Executive Councils should have at least half their members popularly elected.
- The Legislative Council should have a majority of elected members.
- All Legislative Councils should have fiscal autonomy and the right to vote on the sending of supplies to the armed forces
Two Political PartiesThis was the first time that a set of political demands had been made by the two main political organizations in the subcontinent to the Britsh . Unfortunately , they were also to be the last . The Muslims were delighted that the questions of weightage and separate electorates had finally been accepted by the Congress and were pleased by the promise to press for greater provincial autonomy , which would benefit the Muslim provinces. Two points, however, regarding the Lucknow Pact are worth noting. First , the Muslim League realized for the first time that the Muslims, if they wished to safeguard their political rights , had to work with all parties. Secondly , some Hindus became convinced that Hindu - Muslim problems were so deep-rooted that some form of partition would be inevitable . It was for this reason that some members of Congress agreed to the Lucknow Pact , as it increased their own chances of eventual independence.
Drawbacks of Lucknow Pact
- Since the Congress agreed to the scheme of communal electorates for Muslims, it lost its secular character and the Congress paved the way for future communal tension.
- The Pact provided for Muslim representation in the Councils far in excess of their proportion in the total population.
- With the introduction of “Communal Veto” in legislation, no legislature could proceed with any Bill if three-fourth of the members of a particular community opposed it.
- In case there was a dead lock between the Executive and the Legislatures it could not be removed because the Executive branch of Government was responsible to the Secretary of State for India, operating from England.
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