Friday, 24 February 2017

1937 Elections of United Punjab.

As anticipated, in the 1937 elections the Unionist party was able to win a heavy mandate of the Muslims of the Punjab. On the other hand, the Punjab Muslim League was able to win only two seats in the Punjab Assembly. One of the winning candidates, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan deserted the PML as soon as the results were officially announced. The other winning candidate was an urban elite and an academic lawyer Malik Barkat Ali.

Sir Fazal-i-Husain died in 1936, leaving the way clear for Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan to become the first Chief Minister of the Punjab under the newly introduced provincially autonomy under the act of 1935.

Sir Sikander was the strongest Chief Minister in India getting the support of 120 out of 175 members of the Punjab Assembly. He laid the foundation of the strongest pro-government ministry in the Punjab.

Contrary to his expectations, the Congress party soon after resuming power in India made Sir Sikandar’s life extremely difficult in the Punjab. The Punjab Congress and their allies like the Khaksars, Majlis-e-Itihad-e-Millat and the Ahrars pooled their resources to give Sir Sikander a very tough opposition.


Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan and his party could no longer afford to be politically isolated therefore, he agreed to sign a pact with Jinnah called as Sikandar-Jinnah Pact, for some sort of alliance with the Punjab Muslim League, no matter how loose it may be.


Whatever be the reason, this helped the Muslim League to carve out a niche in Punjab but, the PML leaders like Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Malik Barkat Ali, were not happy with this situation and began to send a catalogue of complaints to Jinnah against SSikandar Hayat Khan alleging that the Punjab Premier had been hindering the growth the PML at all levels and both Barkat Ali and Iqbal also recommended the rupture of Sikandar-Jinnah alliance and punish the Punjab Premier.


Iqbal died in 1938 and Sir Shah Nawaz Mamdot who was a personal friend of Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan became the Punjab Muslim League leader. The Nawab due to his connections with the British administrators and also due to his friendship with Sikander was not in favor of severing links with the Unionist party.


Moreover, it seems that Jinnah would have made his own calculations that at least for the time being playing for time was the best policy in dealing with Sir Sikandar Hayat’s policies based on maintaining the status quo model in Punjab politics.


Quaid-i-Azam was a man of vision and farsightedness and he fully understood the limitations of the Punjab Muslim League analyzing that Iqbal was a poet-philosopher and Barket Ali had personal grievances against Sikandar; and that putting undue pressure on Sir Sikandar was not in the best interest of the Punjab Muslim League.


The next biggest move by the Muslim League was the passage of Lahore Resolution, in March 1940 which entailed the dismemberment of the Punjab and the division of India into Hindu and Muslim states.


The Lahore resolution created many problems for Sikander and his successor Khizr Hayat Tiwana. The cooperation between PML and the Unionist, therefore, did not last long.


Khizr was appointed Chief Minister of Punjab and he adopted anti-Muslim League policies, the alliance between the two parties came to an end. The Muslim supporters of Unionist party were therefore advised by the Muslim League to divorce themselves from the Unionist Party and join the Muslim League ranks as early as possible.

Thereafter the Muslim supporters of the Unionist party were trickling towards the Muslim League. Some leading Sajjada Nasheens and Pirs joined the Muslim League and later on, they appealed to the Muslims to support the Muslim League’s Pakistan Movement because by doing so they will be supporting the cause of Islam.