Gandhiji and Jinnah, an Angel and the Devil

The future generation will find it hard to believe that such a one as this (Gandhiji) ever in flesh and blood walked upon the earth”- wrote Albert Einstein on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 75th birthday. Today Gandhiji who is revered as the Father of the Nation has become an icon for peace and non-violence. So much so, for celebrities like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and even US designated terrorist organisation Hamas, Gandhiji’s method of non-violence was/is an inspiration for their respective socio-political movements to achieve their means. In contrast Gandhiji’s arch rival Mohammed Ali Jinnah who is considered as the Father of Pakistan has passed into oblivion for his reactionary and selfish attitude and his hands tainted with the blood of innocent lives.

One loved the masses the other desisted them

Both Gandhiji and Jinnah were from Gujarat, went to England to qualify for the Bar and had faith in British sense of justice and fair play and both considered Gopala Krishna Gokhale as their political guru. But they were poles apart in attitude, temperment and ideology.

Gandhiji was a man of the masses, loved them, lived amidst them and they in turn adored him as the ‘Mahatma’. To identify himself with them, Gandhiji travelled in third class railway compartment, wore scantily and ate frugally, his meals consisting of a few peanuts and a cup of goats milk. On the other hand Jinnah was frigid, haughty, aloof and a reserved person. As a man of class, he travelled in first class railway compartment to avoid the masses. He wore superbly cut linen suits which he changed three to four times a day. He liked rich food, ate port, consumed champagne and had a fleet of cars. He was unable to speak more than a few sentences in Urdu and it is said Gandhiji knew more verses of the Koran than Jinnah.

In their domestic lives also they were poles apart. Gandhiji at the age of 36 took a vow of continence and his wife Kasturibai remained devoted to him till her death. Jinnah married a young girl of eighteen (his friends daughter) at the age of fourty and ten years later she walked out him due to difference in age and temperment.

Another interesting aspect is their relationship with the then leading intellectual giants; Rabindranath Tagore and Mohammed Iqbal. Both Gandhiji and Tagore were broad minded, universal in outlook and known for their liberal religious views. Jinnah subscribed to the bigoted ideology of Iqbal and was considered by Iqbal as the only person who could lead the Indian Muslims to have a separate homeland. Jawaharlal Nehru in one of his letters refers to Iqbal as a great poet who was extraordinarily communal and narrow minded. Thus it is aptly said that Syed Ahmed Khan sowed the seed of Pakistan, Aga Khan watered it, Iqbal manured it and Jinnah plucked the ripe fruit.

Vowed to have India divided or destroyed

Gandhiji’s meteoric rise to fame in the Indian political horizon was too much for Jinnah to digest. In all the major agitations launched by Gandhiji, Jinnah and the Muslim League led by him stood aloof and therby gained the admiration of the British bureaucrats who later helped him achieve Pakistan. Jinnah knew that in case the British grant freedom to India at any cost he would not be able to achieve his ambition to occupy the highest post of the country, hence demanded the formation of Pakistan. While Jinnah vowed that he would have India divided or have it destroyed, Gandhiji said that partition would take place over his dead body and was ready to five the reigns of free India to Jinnah and his Muslim League. But ultimately Jinnah won and had his Pakistan at the cost of displacing lakhs of Hindus from their homes and causing death and destruction to lakhs of men, women and children.

Jinnah loathed Gandhiji

While Gandhiji used to address Jinnah as ‘Qaid-i-Azam’ or the great leader, Jinnah called Gandhiji as a ‘cunning fox’ and a ‘Hindu revivalist’. So much was Jinnah’s hatred against Gandhiji that after the death of Gandhiji, Jinnah wrote in the message of condolence that Gandhi was a great man produced by the Hindu community. One of Jinnah’s assistants said that Gandhiji had risked his life for the sake of Indian Muslims and saved Pakistan from bankruptcy and hence his dimension was far greater than his own community. But Jinnah was adamant and said- “ that is what he was a great Hindu. Worshipped as a demi god, Gandhiji could have easily occupied the highest post after India’s freedom, but he did not, while Jinnah without any ordeal got Pakistan on a platter and became the first Governor General of Pakistan. His ego was so gigantic that at the time of swearing-in-ceremony as Governor General of Pakistan, Jinnah insisted that he be seated on a chair much higher than that of the Governor General of United India, Mountbatten. But Mountbatten who was equally egoistic said that Jinnah would become the Governor General of Pakistan only after he (Mountbatten) administered the oath of office and hence chairs of equal size were procured for the swearing-in-ceremony. It is said that Mountbatten being gigantic in physical stature over shadowed the puny Jinnah.

Today Gandhiji’s India is known for its pluralistic society and as a world largest democracy while Jinnah’s Pakistan has become a haven for churning jihadi terrorists. This being the facts of history, it is no wonder that Aligarh Muslim University which played an important role in the establishment of Pakistan now wants to install the portrait of Jinnah in its podium.

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Kaleidoscope of Indian civilization

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