Sardar, JP and the Muslim Conundrum



I have extracted two speeches. The first was by Sardar Patel, on January 6th, 1948 in Lucknow. This is his most controversial / quoted speech. From the then Governor General Lord Mountbatten to today’s A G Noorani everyone has quoted it. Now you have the opportunity to read it in the original and for your own opinion.

The second is a speech by Shri Jayaprakash Narayan in September 1967. I have referred to this in an earlier post. But now I am quoting the speech verbatim. There is a reason why I am flogging a seemingly dead horse.

Read these speeches in the context of the Communal Violence Bill.


You Cannot Ride Two Horses

(Speech by Sardar Patel on Jan 6th, 1948, in Lucknow)

I am a true friend of the Muslims although I have been described as their greatest enemy. I believe in plain speaking. I do not know how to mince matters. I want to tell them frankly that mere declarations of loyalty to the Indian Union will not help them at this critical juncture. They must give practical proof of their declarations. I ask them why they do not unequivocally denounce Pakistan for attacking Indian territory with the connivance of Frontier tribesmen. Is it not their duty to condemn all acts of aggression against India? I invite the R.S.S. to join Congress and not to weaken the administration by creating unrest in the country. I realise that they are not actuated by selfish motives but the situation warrants that they should strengthen the hands of the Government and assist in maintaining peace. By using violence they cannot render true service to the country.

Today I think of those days when in this city of Lucknow the foundation of two-nation theory was laid. It was said Muslim culture and tradition were not akin to those of Hindus. Muslims were a separate nation. Muslims of this place played a very important role in advocating this theory. A few Nationalist Muslims protested against it. They combined with the Hindus because both were perturbed at the advocacy of such a theory and raised their voice. But my Muslim League brothers made a strong plea for separation. They said that they were not satisfied with separate electorates and safeguard of minority rights. They wanted separation and the establishment of a separate State. Throughout the length and breadth of India the Muslim youth mostly came under their influence. They accepted it as the whole truth. Consequently, a wall was raised between them and those who were in the Congress.

In Calcutta on August 15, the Direct Action Movement was launched by them to give a direct blow to those who still did not believe in the two nation theory. We then thought if there was to be a division of the country, let it be divided. Let them manage their own affairs and we will manage our own. After all, we had to drive out a foreign power. We were then facing the problem of getting rid of an alien rule. So we accepted the division of the country and thought we would see the partition question later.

The Muslim Leaguers call me their greatest enemy. Formerly they used to call Mahatma Gandhi as enemy number one. Now they think Gandhiji is their friend and have substituted me in his place, because I speak the truth. They believed if they got Pakistan, they would ensure full protection for the Muslims. But have they ever looked at the Muslims living in Hindustan? Have they ever sympathised with them? When freedom was won came the Punjab massacre which lowered our prestige. Then came the Junagadh issue followed by the Kashmir problem. We raised the question with Pakistan. They replied: ‘We are not concerned.’ It was the Azad Government Dal in Kashmir and Kashmir Muslims who were responsible for aggression. But it is no secret that the Frontier tribesmen are receiving rations, war material, motor trucks and petrol.

I want to ask the Indian Muslims only one question. In the recent All India Muslim Conference why did you not open your mouth on the Kashmir issue? Why did you not condemn the actions of Pakistan? These things create doubt in the minds of the people. So I want to say a word as a friend of Muslims and it is the duty of a good friend to speak frankly. It is your duty now to sail in the same boat and sink or swim together. I want to tell you very clearly that you cannot ride on two horses. You select one horse, whichever you like best.

If the relation between Pakistan and Hindustan continues as at present, the consequences cannot be foreseen. I am not hiding anything but I am telling bare facts. I would not like anybody to throw dust into your eyes. I appeal to the Hindu Mahasabhaites to join the Congress. No good will be served by remaining aloof. If you think that you are the only custodians of Hinduism, you are mistaken. Hinduism preaches a broader outlook on life. There is much more of tolerance in Hinduism than is interpreted. I appeal to the R.S.S. to use their wisdom and work judiciously. I ask them not to be rash and tactless. Do not be aggressive. Those who are disloyal wil have to go to Pakistan. Those who are still riding on two horses, will have to quit Hindustan.”


Jayaprakash Narayan, in an article published in the “Indian Nation, Patna” under the title “Ranchi Riots: Some Serious Questions”


A Word to Muslims:

One final word. I have often taken the liberty to chastise the Hindus whenever I felt the need for it. I have also tendered advise to Muslims. But I feel there is need at this moment to speak more plainly to them. The Muslims who opted for India and decided to make their home here should realise that though their Hindu Countrymen, except for a few mad people, do not want to harm, much less destry, Pakistan partition has left a deep wound in their hearts. And they remember that many Muslims and Muslim leaders who had made India their home, particularly in Bihar and UP, were once passionate advocates of Pakistan. It is for that reason that there is such mistrust in their hearts. Unfortunately there are still Muslim Organisations which under the guise of religious or cultural activity emphasise the separateness of the Muslim community and ignore Hindu susceptibilities and keep aloof from the mainstream of national and social life. I am not unaware of the many problems the Muslims face, even the discrimination they meet with in certain  quarters. But it is not only the minority community or the nation as a whole which has to change its attitude; the Muslim community must also do so. It is not enough to point to the Muslim leaders who in the days of the freedom movement fought shoulder to shoulder with other Indians and who rejected the two nations theory. Their presence in our midst is reassuring. They also feel reassured by such shining examples of patriotism as Mr. Abdul Hamid. But the Hindus do not forget that by and large it was not the old nationalist Muslim leaders who were accepted as leaders by the Indian Muslims but those others who ardently advocated the two-nation theory. I hope they have changed their minds now, but it should cause no surprise if suspicion lingers in many minds. That suspicion needs to be removed.

I am conscious that a growing number of Muslims, particularly of the younger generation, have achieved considerable success in this direction, and that their task would have been much easier if their effort had not been impeded by some extremist Hindu sections. The fact however remains that by and large the real Muslim leaders have developed a tendency to place all responsibility for Muslim misfortunes on the shoulders either of the Hindus or the government. Little genuine effort has been made to turn the searchlight inward.

I fear that what I am saying may arouse bitter anger. I should be sorry however for those who may be angry. I am speaking as a friend, as one who is deeply concerned about the future of the Indian Muslims and of the future of our country as a nation.





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