The Lokamanya and the Sardar: Two Generations of Congress 'Communalism'
153 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2009
Date Written: December 13, 1999
Antagonism among various religious communities and particularly between Hindus and Muslims has become a recurring feature of the public sphere in South Asia. This antagonism fed a steady growth of Muslim separatism in British India which led to the creation of Pakistan in 1947. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the evidence of such communal attitudes within the major movement dedicated to achieving Indian nationhood, the Indian National Congress. From its founding in 1885, the organization espoused secular ideals and a broad vision of Indian nationalism which would be inclusive of all religious communities. Nevertheless, a strong undercurrent of Hindu chauvinism was evident early in its history and contributed to the weakening of political and communal harmony from the early 1890s to the late 1940s. Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920) and Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel (1875-1950) were two powerful leaders who helped to nurture this Hindu chauvinism over a period of two generations of political activism. This thesis investigates how Tilak and Patel's demonization of Muslims in the print media and the relegation of Muslims to limited roles within Congress helped to enfeeble the secular goals of Congress, despite the efforts of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) and Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964).
Keywords: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sardar Patel, Lokamanya Tilak, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian National Congress, Congress, Hindus, Muslims, Communalism, Historiography, Comparative Politics, South Asia
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation