Tilak and Jinnah: A forgotten friendship and symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in colonial India - ToP NewS

Tilak and Jinnah: A forgotten friendship and symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in colonial India

One of the most intriguing political relationships in the history of India’s freedom struggle is that between Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. This association is iconoclastic on both sides. It punctures the leftist allegation that Tilak was a Hindu communalist. This depiction of Tilak can also be found in many accounts of the history of Pakistan by Pakistani scholars. This comradeship also busts the myth that Jinnah, who later became the architect of Pakistan, was a Muslim communalist.

Remarkably, this association developed at a time when both the Indian National Congress, of which Tilak was a towering leader until his death on August 1, 1920, and the All India Muslim League, which later raised the demand for India’s Partition, were themselves exploring a collaborative association to demand from the British self-rule for Indians.

Even more remarkably, it was a time when Jinnah, the most promising young lawyer and nationalist Muslim politician in Bombay in the first two decades of the last century, was a member, simultaneously, of both the Congress and the Muslim League. He had joined the Congress in 1896, when he returned from England to Bombay to start his law practice.

In 1906, he attended the Calcutta session as secretary to...

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