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A Story of Political Processes


Mohammad Sajjad

RESISITING COLONIALISM AND COMMUNAL POLITICS: MAULANA AZAD AND THE MAKING OF THE INDIAN NATION
By Rizwan Qaiser
2011, pp. 374, Rs. 950.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 3 March 2012

 Readers may form a misleading impression that this book is yet another biography of Maulana Azad. At the very outset, therefore, it needs to be clarified that it is less a biography of an individual (Maulana Azad), and more a story of the political processes of late colonial India underlining those aspects of Congress politics which could gain only limited success so far as enlisting the support of the Muslim communities to the cause of freedom was concerned. The book therefore highlights those under-explored aspects whereby large numbers of Muslim groups were resisting the communal separatist politics of the Muslim League, but the Congress was not able to lend adequate support and acknowledgement. Maulana Azad was able to realize these inadequacies of the Congress, he was sharing it with all the bigwigs of the Congress, but somehow he was not able to garner enough support from his organization and its bigwigs. This was a major cause of the success of the Muslim League in getting India divided. The author arrives at the conclusion that, 'The role that Azad played in the years preceding Partition was that of a one-man army against Muslim alienation from the Congress, and the Congress's indifference towards sensitive issues of identity, culture, and desire for power-sharing' (p. 354). This bold exposition has been done only after delving deep into the primary sources, hitherto untapped. These sources include the AICC Papers, the bi-annual Urdu Press Review, English newspapers like the Hindustan Times, Leader, S. A. Barelvi's Bombay Chronicle, and Urdu newspapers like Medina of Bijnour (U.P.), among many others. The author has also sifted through a large number of correspondence between the top leaders and the administrators of the day. In the recent decades a few works have appeared which underline this particular aspect of majoritarian communal prejudices of Congress politics causing alienation of the Muslim communities, e.g., Joya Chatterji on Bengal, William Gould on U.P., Papiya Ghosh on Bihar, besides some essays like the one by Mushirul Hasan on the half-hearted attempt of the Congress to reach out to the Muslims in 1937-38.1 The book under review attempts to give an all India picture of this particular aspect of modern Indian history. A prelude to the Muslim response to the anti-colonial nationalist political processes is followed by an analysis of how the ideology of pan-Islamism was employed as a powerful resource against western imperialism. ...


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