Ali Khan to return to India and take charge of the virtually moribund
organisation. He did so, was elected Permanent President in March 1934 and
soon began to make his presence felt. At this stage, though, he still seems to
have wanted to co-operate with the Congress and to work with it on the basis
of equality. Communal feeling at the time was not generally pronounced,
either at the leadership level or amongst the masses. There was little tension
and comparatively little rioting.
    The elections of 1937 were to alter the picture somewhat. As part of his
general programme of revitalising the League and giving the Muslims greater
influence, Jinnah felt that a specifically Muslim party should attempt to play
a role in legislation. The 1936 League session at Bombay accepted his view
and decided to contest the elections. A Central Parliamentary Board was
established and Jinnah was charged with implementing a three-point
    The conclusions that the League drew from the elections and from the
logistics of the situation created by the Act of 1935 were far-reaching. In the
minority provinces, it seemed that they were fated never to form a
government and would always be dominated by the Congress with its strong
grip over non-Muslim India. If the federation ever came into operation, the
pattern would be repeated at the center where Muslims would only have one-
third of the seats allotted to British India. In the majority provinces the
weightage of seats worked to their disadvantage and gave them just under a
majority of the total in Bengal and Punjab. In any case, 1937 demonstrated
that their hold on these provinces was tenuous. The conclusions were
inescapable even though not immediately evident or acceptable. It was clear
that the League would have to seek to capture the Muslim majority provinces,
preferably by bringing non-League Muslim leaders into the fold; in addition,
it would have to oppose a constitutional scheme that doomed it to political
ineffectiveness while, as the final resort, it would have to be prepared to
change its self-image and no longer consider itself merely as a separate
minority within the Indian polity, but as a separate nation.
    One of the crucial factors in promoting this change of attitude was
brought about by the aftermath of the elections. The Congress and the League
had not really been rivals during the campaign and, at least in UP, a
gentleman’s agreement seems