The immediate result of the publication of the Nehru Report was that Muslims of all shades of opinion united in opposition to it. The two wings of the Muslim League that had been split since 1924 came
closer. On January 21, 1929, the All Parties Muslim Conference convened in Delhi under Aga Khan. Nearly every shade of opinion was represented. The Conference laid down the Muslims demands in the clearest possible terms:
- The only form of government suitable to Indian conditions was a federal system with complete autonomy and residuary powers vested in the constituent states.
- Muslims should not be deprived of the right to elect their representatives through separate electorates without their consent.
- Muslims should continue to have weightage in the Hindu majority provinces and they were willing to accord the same privilege to non-Muslim minorities in Sindh, the N. W. F. P. and Baluchistan.
- Muslims should have their due share in the central and provincial cabinets.
- Muslim majority in all Muslim majority provinces (with particular reference to Bengal and Punjab) should in no way be disturbed.
This resolution was the Muslims’ reply to the Nehru Report. The rejection of the Congress-inspired constitution was completely unanimous and clear. On two points the Muslims were adamant: separate electorates must continue and India must have a federal form of government. The Nehru Report was primarily repudiated because it denied these conditions. At this critical juncture, Jinnah made the last attempt to unite the Hindus and the Muslims. At All Parties Convention at Calcutta in 1929, he suggested certain modifications to be made in the recommendations of the Nehru Report. These were as follows:
- One-third of the elected representatives of both the houses of the central legislature should be Muslim.
- In the event of adult suffrage not being established in Punjab and Bengal, there should be reservations of seats for the Muslims on the basis of population for ten years; subject to a re-examination after that period, but they shall have no right to contest additional seats.
- Residuary powers should be left to the provinces and should not rest with the central legislature.
The committee rejected these suggestions. In March 1929, Quaid-i-Azam compiled a set of recommendations that greatly influenced Muslim thinking for the better part of the next decade.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003