Congress leader Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer in his usual incisive style wrote a newspaper article on the Israeli aggression in Gaza and our government’s reluctance to conduct a parliamentary debate on the issue. In the course of his informative article he recalled Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s leading role while participating in the UN committee set up in 1947 to discuss the Palestinian issue. Nehru proposed a formula to keep Palestine united. Rightly, Mr. Aiyer has lauded Nehru’s constructive role.
“India, itself under the shadow of a looming, blood soaked Partition, took the lead in arguing for a single federal state in which there would be two autonomous Jewish and Arab regions, but with a common central government democratically elected by all the citizens of a common state.”
How ironic, then, that the very formula through which Nehru passionately proposed to keep Palestine united, was rejected by Congress leaders to create their own nation’s Partition! The Cabinet Mission Plan for India was precisely the template of the Nehru formula for Palestine. Astonishingly enough, on April 25-26, 1947 when India’s Viceroy Lord Mountbatten discussed separately on two successive days the Cabinet Mission proposal with both Jinnah representing the Muslim League and Sardar Patel representing the Congress, it was Jinnah who accepted the plan with some preconditions and Patel who rejected it. Had Congress accepted the proposal on April 25-26 there would have been no Pakistan but a united federal India similar to what Nehru proposed for Palestine.
Jinnah was betrayed by Nehru in the 1937 election when Congress reneged on its commitment to accommodate two Muslim League members in the government and instead appointed two Muslims from the Congress. Therefore Jinnah demanded that no Muslim outside his party could join the central government. Mahatma Gandhi objected to that arguing that it violated his secular principles. Jinnah also demanded the right of provinces ruled by the Muslim League to frame their own laws in relation to provincial subjects. This is what obtains in India today. But Patel strongly objected to that.
The papers on Mountbatten’s Cabinet Mission Plan on April 25-26 1947 read:
“Sardar Patel then made the following statements:
(a) Congress would not accept any suggestion for a further degree of parity (between Congress and Muslim League) in the present Central Government.
(b) If the Muslim League did not accept the Cabinet Mission’s plan, Congress desired partition.
(c) Congress had reached the maximum limit of their concessions.”
The rest is history.
This week the BJP government argued in the Human Rights Council in Geneva saying: “The solution to the Palestine issue was a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine within recognized borders side-by-side and at peace with Israel.” This echoes Nehru’s view about Palestine expressed in 1947. But in the same BJP a leader objects to tennis star Sania Mirza being named brand Ambassador of Telangana state because she is married to a Pakistani and is therefore “Pakistan’s daughter-in-law”.
Do we not live in Incredible India?