Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gurjar Sabha, January 14, 1915 from Jaswant Singh

We find this in Jaswant Singh's book - Jinnah : India - Partition - Independence.  Jaswant Singh's reference is "M.K. Gandhi at the Gurjar Sabha reception, Bombay, 14 January 1915, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, XIII, No. 8., p.9, Publications Division, Ministry of Information, Delhi, 1964."

   The Telegraph of Calcutta has an excerpt of the book, from which I reproduce the following:

Although the families of both Jinnah and Gandhi had once lived just about 40 miles or so apart in Kathiawar (Gujarat), this adjacency of their places of origin did nothing to bring their politics close together. At their very first meeting, at the Gurjar Sabha in January 1915, convened to felicitate Gandhi upon his return from South Africa, in response to a welcome speech, with Jinnah presiding, Gandhi had somewhat accommodatingly said he was ‘glad to find a Muslim not only belonging to his own region’s sabha but chairing it.’ Gandhi had singled out Jinnah as a Muslim, though, neither in appearance or in conduct was Jinnah anywhere near to being any of the stereotypes of the religious identity ascribed by Gandhi. Jinnah, on the other hand, was far more fulsome in his praise.

Gandhi had reached India by boat in January 1915 when many leaders, including Jinnah and Gokhale, went to Bombay to give him an ovatious welcome. By this date Jinnah had already engaged as an all India leader and was committed to attaining his stated goals of unity, not just between the Muslims and the Hindus, Extremists and Moderates, but also among various classes of India. To receive Gandhi, Jinnah had forsaken attending the Madras Congress meet of 1914. Gandhi, upon reaching Bombay, had been warmly welcomed by Jinnah who wanted to enlist his services for the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity. It was because of his popularity and standing that Jinnah had been invited to preside over a garden party given by the Gurjar Sabha, an association of the Gurjar (Gujar) community, arranged to welcome Mr and Mrs Gandhi, on his arrival on 13 January 1915.
In his presidential address, Jinnah ‘welcomed... Mr and Mrs Gandhi, not only on behalf of Bombay but on behalf of the whole of India.’ He impressed upon Gandhi that the greatest problem was ‘to bring about unanimity and co-operation between the two communities so that the demands of India (from Imperial Britain) may be made absolutely unanimously.’ For this he desired ‘that frame of mind, that state, that condition which they had to bring about between the two communities, when most of their problems, he had no doubt, would easily be solved.’ Jinnah went to the extent of saying: ‘Undoubtedly he [Gandhi] would not only become a worthy ornament but also a real worker whose equals there were very few.’ This remark was greatly applauded by a largely Hindu audience, accounts of that meeting report. Gandhi, however, was cautious and somewhat circuitous in his response. He took the plea that he would study all the Indian questions from ‘his own point of view,’ a reasonable enough assertion; also because Gokhale had advised him to study the situation for at least a year before entering politics. This, too, was all right but then, needlessly, he thanked Jinnah for presiding over a Hindu gathering. This was an ungracious and discouraging response to Jinnah’s warm welcome and had a dampening effect.

No comments:

Post a Comment