the scheme was not in operation. There was of course some political
infighting within the Ministries at the provincial level and charges, largely
unfounded, were made that their activities had a communal and anti- Muslim
    The center of the political scene was held fairly firmly by the Congress
during the thirties. Undoubtedly it was the major organisation in the country
and it had no effective contenders at the all-India level, despite some
opposition from specific parties and bodies in particular provinces.
Nevertheless, during the elections and during the formation of Ministries, it
ran into problems with Muslims and particularly with the Muslim League.
Partly as a result of these confrontations and partly in response to other
developments, the League began to reform and by 1940 had emerged as a
significant force on the political scene and one, moreover, that had come to
demand a national territory for Muslims. This marked a major re-orientation.
No longer was protection of Muslim interest and assertion of their separate
identity enough, there was now a national demand for a separate Muslim
Genesis of the Movement
It is perhaps possible to find precedents in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries for such a demand. There were occasional Muslim
thinkers and leaders who did speak of an autonomous Muslim territory
carved out of India. But such views carried little weight and had even less
impact on the course of events. The community’s separate identity and
interests that had been urged by Sir Sayyid and entombed in the Morley-
Minto Reforms and, a decade later, in the Montagu-Chelmsford Scheme were
sufficient for the needs of the day. However, in the first half of the 1920s it
seemed no longer sufficient. The President of the 1921 League session,
Maulana Hasrat Mohani, suggested that the four Muslim-majority provinces
be used as a counter-weight to the seven Hindu-majority provinces in British
India, with the provinces strong and the center weak. Although this view
moved towards the idea of a separate territory it did not take the idea to its
conclusion; Muslims were still to remain within a united India. Such an
approach was gradually given increasing currency and was, in 1928,