Hindu Raj Then, Saffron Raj Now

Dr. T. Hanuman Chowdary

Under the Government of India Act 1935, elections were held to provincial (now state) legislatures in 1937.  At that time, Muslims were a separate electorate and had reserved seats, roughly one-third more than their proportion in the provinces where they were in a minority.  However, not a single nationalist Muslim of the Congress could win a seat reserved for the Muslims.  In the six Hindu dominated provinces – Madras, Orissa, Bihar, UP, Bombay and Central Province – the Congress secured a majority and formed its ministries.  But no Muslim was found in those Ministries as no Congress Muslim won in the constituencies reserved for Muslims.

Hindu Raj in the Congress-ruled provinces

The Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah criticized the Congress governments for having ushered in Hindu Raj.  Every Hindu-Muslim riot was alleged to have been initiated by the Hindus and it was believed that the Hindus were abetted by the Congress’s Hindu Raj.  Among the charges levelled by the Muslim League against the Congress’s Hindu Raj were – singing of Vande Mataram made compulsory, hoisting the tri-colour flag on all buildings, discouraging the use of the Urdu language which led to its decline and ban of cow-slaughter.  Muslim culture and life were becoming insecure and their mosques, mazars and shrines were being desecrated.

Muslim League’s Riposte

To counter the atrocities by Hindu Raj and bring to the fore the grievances of the Muslims, the Muslim League set up three committees which issued three reports – the Pirpur Report (1938) under the chairmanship of Raja Syed Mohammed Mehdi of Pirpur, “Muslim Sufferings under Congress Rule” (1939) by A. K. Fazlul Huq and the Shareef Report (1939) giving an account of the grievances of the Muslims in Bihar.

At that time, there were no communists (like Sitaram Yechuri), no social activists (like Teesta Setalvad or Arundhati Roy), no casteist secularists (like Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav) or Nehruvian secular-socialists (like  Digvijay Singh) or secular  intellectuals (like Js. Rajender Sachar) and Marxist eminent historians (like Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar) or self-styled secular fundamentalists (like Mani Shankar Aiyar) to take up the cause of the minorities and propagate the cry of their religion being in danger under Hindu Raj of 1937-39.

The then Viceroy Linlithgow, who was no friend of the Congress or the Hindus, had received the three reports submitted by the Muslim League on the atrocities of the  Congress’s Hindu Raj, got them studied and investigated, and absolved the Congress governments of all charges of atrocities and persecution levelled by the  Muslim League.

Day of Deliverance

On 2nd September 1939, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Viceroy Linlithgow declared India too to be at war against Germany without consulting the Indian leaders and Provincial Governments.  This led to the resignation of the Congress Ministries; and that delighted the Muslim League.  Grabbing the opportunity, Jinnah called upon the Muslims all over India to observe 22nd December 1939 (incidentally it was a Friday) as the Day of Deliverance – deliverance from Hindu Raj.

Cut to the Present

As in 1937-39, since May 2014, we hear the “minorities” cry of them being in danger.  Their religion, lifestyle, food – in short, their identity – are all in danger.  The BJP governments at the Center and in the states are “saffronising” governance, and educational and cultural institutions. Sanskrit is being promoted, yoga, Surya Namaskarams and the compulsory singing of Vande Mataram are being imposed and the minorities are even deprived of having their staple foods (the beef ban).

In short, it appears that their very existence is threatened.  So we have persons like Mohammad Azam Khan, Samajwadi Party MP from U.P. petitioning the UN to stop the saffronising Modi government from persecuting Muslims in India.  This is reminiscent of the Nizam of Hyderabad petitioning the U.N. Security Council in 1948 that the Indian government was committing war-like acts and aggression on his peaceful sovereign state.

The minorities (i.e. Muslims) are now joined by their congenital allies – the Communists (eight so-styled parties in India), the secular intellectuals, the progressive writers, the casteists, the vote-begging regional Samajwadis, and of course, eminent historians (many of them Marxists) of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and finally, the (Sonia) Congress which, by now, is a captive of the minorities and claiming itself to be their sole protector.

Under the Congress rule, many government-patronized and funded institutions like ICHR (Indian Council of Historical Research), ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations), NMM&L (Nehru Memorial Museum and Library) and the humanities faculties of Central Universities were infiltrated by anti-Hindus of various faiths, ideologies and interests.  It is these groups and the beneficiary writers and artists who, in league with the minorities, are echoing the 1937-39 cry of Congress’s Hindu Raj and raising the slogan of BJP’s Saffron Raj.

To say that minorities in India are in danger is a totally unabashed charge.  The BJP and its allies must unswervingly tread the path of justice for all, no favour for or discrimination against any faith, religion or Dharma.  The government should not retreat from actions that would make Bharat a prosperous, powerful, intellectual and ethical nation-state.

In conclusion, let me quote from Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s book “Pakistan or the Partition of India” published in 1940.

“I do not think the demand for Pakistan is the result of mere political distemper, which will pass away with the efflux of time.  As I read the situation, it seems to me that it is a characteristic in the biological sense of the term which the Muslim body politic has developed in the same manner as an organism develops a characteristic. Whether it will survive or not, in the process of natural selection, must depend upon the forces that may become operative in the struggle for existence between Hindus and Musalmans.”

Dr. T. Hanuman Chowdary is Chairman, Pragna Bharati, Andhra Pradesh, Director, Center for Telecom Management and Studies and former Chairman and Managing Director, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited.  E-mail: hanuman.chowdary@tcs.com

3 thoughts on “Hindu Raj Then, Saffron Raj Now

  1. I do not know about pre-Independence era, but in post-Independence rule, the body politic has been badly twisted by all kinds of politicians playing to the galleries, creating and perpetuating all kinds of sophisticated inequalities and the resultant divisions in society under one slogan or the other, only to cash in on them and to convert them in to their respective vote banks. The people at large, innocent and gullible ​as ​they are, fell prey to the machinations of wily politicians time and again, only to find themselves left high and dry even after 68 years of freedom from a colonial rule. ​Our Prime Minister’s ideas, intentions, plans and schemes may be good and welcome. But that’s not enough. Our former PM, Manmohan Singh, was also well known for his integrity and patriotism. But what did we get out of him in the end?​ We only pray that we should not require to lament again saying: “Here lies a ruler with the best intentions having achieved little.”


  2. Thank you Dr.Chowdary for an excellent piece of research. The distorted secularism has distorted the public life in India. Distorted secularism created Kashmir problem and distorted socialism perpetuated poverty in India.By dismantling permit-license raj PM P.V.Narasimha Rao laid the foundation for rapid growth and reduction of poverty. PM Modi rightly says development is the solution to most of our problems, His initiatives like Jan Dhan, Mudra Bank, Digital India, impetus for manufacturing and many other schemes will bring in innovation,enterprise, jobs, and prosperity to India


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