Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What sardar patel spoke in Constituent Assembly

Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Minorities & Reservations

Sardar Patel
In the view of this outrageous debate on current version of Congress Party solely staking claim to Sardar Vallabhai Patel's legacy, I came across this excellent debate in the then Constituent Assembly of India* on the issue of Minority rights, wherein the Sardar proved why he was a visionary and a well wisher of India.
*(The Constituent Assembly Of India discussed all aspects of our constitution before it was adopted on January 26, 1950 replacing the colonial era Government of India Act, 1935 )
This debate and views expressed provides an insight on how those visionaries laid the foundations of Modern India. Needless to say, I don't see even an inch of what was said on August 27, 1947 in the act/s of the current version of Congress Party led UPA government.
The Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 brought about limited increase in the involvement of native Indians in the governance of Colonial India.
As demanded by the Muslim leadership the British established a policy of religion based separate electorates through the Indian Councils Act, 1909 wherein Muslim community were granted following concessions:
·         That Indian Muslims be allotted reserved seats in the Municipal and District Boards, in the Provincial Councils and in the Imperial Legislature;
 ·         That the number of reserved seats be in excess of their relative population (25 percent of the Indian population); and,
 ·         That only Muslims should vote for candidates for the Muslim seats ('separate electorates').
These concessions were a constant source of strife 1909-47. British statesmen generally considered reserved seats as regrettable in that they encouraged communal extremism as Muslim candidates did not have to appeal for Hindu votes and vice versa. As further power was shifted from the British to Indian politicians in 1919, 1935 and after, Muslims were ever more determined to hold on to, and if possible expand, reserved seats and their weightage. However, Hindu politicians repeatedly tried to eliminate reserved seats as they considered them to be undemocratic and to hinder the development of a shared Hindu-Muslim Indian national feeling.
It was in this back drop that the Report on Minority Rights was tabled in the then Constituent Assembly of India on August 27, 1947 ( Read entire debate here : )
The Advisory committee that drafted this report saw heated debates as Muslim members strongly advocated continuation of the colonial policy of separate electorates, while the Hindu element who strongly believed this policy to be the root cause of the two nation theory, Un democratic and above all communal.
Thankfully, the amendments proposed by the then Muslim leadership advocating continuing colonial policy failed to pass the muster of the constituent assembly on that day.
On request of then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhai Patel moved for consideration of the report on minority rights prepared by the Advisory committee.
The Preliminary remarks by all the speaker/s are noteworthy what caught my eye was the speech by Dr. P.S. Deshmukh representing the Central Provinces & Berar & Sardar Vallabhai Patel representing then Bombay Presidency :
I have listed few takeaways from Dr. Deshmukh's speech:
  1. In my opinion, there is no more monstrous word in the history of Indian politics than the word " minority"
  2. Even since India emerged out of its political infancy, the demon of the interests of minorities and their protection stood before us and appeared to bar the progress of the country.
  3. That this monster should at long last have been shorn of its terrors is an achievement worthy of note.
  4. The Members of the Advisory Committee have in this respect a great achievement to their credit.
  5. First and foremost, they have discontinued separate electorates. Secondly the none too just system of weightages has been given up.
  6. The composition of Cabinets is not going to be hampered by insurmountable difficulties of taking minority representatives as of legal and constitutional right nor are our percentages of recruitment going to be worked up to the second decimal as would certainly have been the case had the various representatives of the minorities insisted upon reservation in those spheres also.
  7. Some of our Muslim friends, mostly as a result of the British policy, painted us as tyrants and majority-made oppressors.
  8. I have never found any justification for such an accusation, but an unjust and untrue charge was repeated ad nauseum and somehow sustained throughout the last so many years.
  9. It is upon those false foundations that Pakistan was demanded and conceded
  10. Rather than tyrannize the minorities, the fact was that in most places the minorities tyrannized the majority.
  11. The Muslims have almost everywhere enjoyed privileges far in excess of what may be called just or fair.
  12. I am content that no minority is going to try any more to deprive others of what legitimately belongs to them.
  13. Pressed by political considerations, microscopic minority interests have been advocated by the greatest of democrats.
  14. They enjoyed posts and privileges which they had no right to enjoy. It is self-evident that if anybody enjoys more than he deserves, he must of necessity deprive someone else of his legitimate share
Shri. B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur(Madras) moves amendment to the motion insisting on the separate electorate :
"That on a consideration of the report of the Advisory Committee on minorities, fund mental right etc., on minority rights this meeting of the Constituent Assembly resolves that all elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures should, as far as Muslims are concerned, be held on the basis of separate electorates."
This is followed by a excellent debate by members who oppose the amendment.
President Dr. Rajendra Prasad then calls upon Sardar Vallabhai Patel to reply to  Shri. B. Pocker Sahib Bahadurif he wishes to and the Sardar rises to the occasion with an excellent speech, do read:
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel : Sir, I will not take much time I was sorry to learn that this question was taken seriously because when this question came before the Advisory Committee there was not so much debate as I heard here today. My friends of the Muslim League here who moved this amendment and supported it took it for granted that they had a duty to perform in a sense. They had been pressing for separate electorates and enjoying it for a long time and felt that they should not leave it all of a sudden, but just move the motion and have the vote of the House. But when I heard the elaborate speeches I thought that I was living in the ages in which the communal question was first mooted. I had not the occasion to hear the speeches which were made in the initial stages when this question of communal electorates was introduced in the Congress; but there are many eminent Muslims who have recorded their views that the greatest evil in this country which has been brought to pass is the communal electorate. The introduction of the system of communal electorates is a poison which has entered into the body politic of our country. Many Englishmen who were responsible for this also admitted that. But today, after agreeing to the separation of the country as a result of this communal electorate, I never thought that that proposition was going to be moved seriously, and even if it was moved seriously, that it would be taken seriously. Well, when Pakistan was conceded, at least it was assumed that there would be one nation in the rest of India-the 80 per cent. India and there would be no attempt to talk of two nations here also. It is no use saying that we ask for separate electorates, because it is good for us. We have heard it long enough. We have heard it for years, and as a result of this agitation we are now a separate nation. The agitation was that "we are a separate nation, we cannot have either separate electorates or weightage or any other concessions or consideration sufficient for our protection. Therefore, give us a separate State". We said, "All right, take your separate State". But in the rest of India, in the 80 per cent of India, do you agree that there shall be one nation ? Or do you still want the two-nations talk to be brought here also ? I am against separate electorates. Can you show me one free country where there are separate electorates ? If so, I shall be prepared to accept it. But in this unfortunate country if this separate electorate is going to be persisted in, even after the division of the country, woe betide the country; it is not worth living in. Therefore, I say, it is not for my good alone, it is for your own good that I say it, "forget the past. One day, we may be 'united. I wish well to Pakistan. Let it succeed. Let them build in their own way, Let them prosper. Let us enter into a rivalry of prosperity, but let us not enter into that rivalry that is going on today in the land of Pakistan. You do not know that we are sitting in Delhi on a volcano. You do not know the strain that is being put on us because of what is happening near about. My friend the Mover of the amendment says the Muslim community today is a strong-knit community. Very good; I am glad to hear that, and therefore I say you have no business to ask for any props, (Cheers). Because there are other minorities who are not well-organised, and deserve special consideration and some safeguards, we want to be generous to them. But at the same time, as you have enjoyed this to a certain extent for a long time and you may not feel that there is discrimination, we agree to reservation according to population basis. Where is that kind of reservation in any other free country in the world? Will you show me? I ask you. You are a very well-organised community. Tell me, why do you behave like a lame man ? Be a bold and a strong man, as you are well-organised and stand up. Think of the nation that is being built on this side. We have laid the foundation of a nation. From now, under this new constitution, Chaudhuri Khaliquzzaman says the British element is gone, and therefore forget the suspicious. The British element is gone, but they have left the mischief behind. We do not want to perpetuate that mischief. (Hear, hear). When the British introduced this element they had not expected that they will have to go so soon. They wanted it for their easy administration. That is all right. But they have left the legacy behind. Are we to get out of it or not ? Therefore I say, and appeal to you. "What are you doing"? Think about it. Do you expect any one man in this country outside the Muslim League who will say 'Let us now also agree to separate electorates' Why do you do this? If you say "We want now to have loyalty" on this side to this nation", may I ask you "Is this loyalty?" Are you provoking response of loyalty from the other side ? I have no intention to speak on this, but when the Mover of this amendment talked such a long time and it was supported by the Leader, then I felt that there is something wrong again still is this land. Therefore, my dear friends, I ask you "Do you want now peace in this land? If so do away with it; you can do no harm either to Pakistan or India or anything, but only you will have all over the country what is happening in this country near about us; if you do want it, you can have it." But I appeal to you "Let us at least on this side show that everything is forgotten" and if we want to forget then let us forget what has been done in the past and also what is responsible for all that is happening today. Therefore, I once more appeal to you to withdraw the amendment and let us pass this unanimously so that the world outside will also understand that we are united. (Cheers).
"All elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures will be held on the basis of joint electorates."
The motion was adopted.


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