No. They were not. But the belief persists. Their policy of appeasement was notorious. But it was a matter of expediency.
Gandhiji believed in Hindu-Muslim unity. It was an axiom with him for the victory of the freedom struggle. And what mattered to Nehru were the votes of the Muslims. Without their votes, the Congress was not sure of gaining power in view of the anti-Congress upsurge among the Hindus.
But what were their innermost thoughts about the Muslims? Gandhiji says that though Hindus and Muslims came from the same stock, the religious environment in which they were brought up made all the difference between them. And being a minority, he says, Muslims, as a class, developed into bullies. How? He explains: ?The 1400 years of (Muslim) imperialist expansion made the Mussalmans into fighters?. They were, therefore, aggressive. ?Bullying is the natural excrescence of an aggressive spirit, ?he warns. Surely Gandhiji was not blind.
As against this, say the Mahatma, the Hindus had an age-old civilisation. They were essentially non-violent. As such, he says, they were not equipped to fight.? In fact, ?they had become docile to the point of timidity or cowardice,? he says. If Hindus would but believe themselves, the Mahatma says, and work in accordance with their tradition, ?they would have no reason to fear the bullying.? (Young India, 19.6.1924)
Gandhiji admits that the sword is not the emblem of Islam. But (it) is ?yet too much in evidence among the Mussalmans?. It must be ?sheathed, if Islam is to be what it means (what it claims to be?)?peace,? he says. (Young India, 30.12.1926)
If this was what Gandhiji really thought of the Indian Muslims, his policy of appeasement can be explained only in terms of expediency. It is true, Gandhiji was least informed on matters Islamic.
Independent India offered the Muslims an unique opportunity to share power with the Hindus. But they failed to seize the opportunity. After raising a revolt against the British raj in 1857, they became collaborators of the British. And after having brought about the horrendous Partition of the country, they became collaborators of the Congress Party. This was no way to carve out a worthy destiny.
Of course, they desperately wanted assurance of security. They also wanted to prevent a Hindu revival. And the Congress, as I said before, was desperately in need of Muslim votes to be in power. That was how a deal came to be struck between the Muslims and Pt. Nehru. The outcome was the introduction of secularism as a government policy.
But did Nehru know that the Muslims consider secularism as the worst evil? He did not. He had a poor opinion about the Muslim advent. He writes: ?The people of Central Asia, who invaded India, were fierce and merciless… Having conquered a new country, they knew only one way of keeping it under control?the way of terror? A terrible indictment! Terror is still a major weapon in the hands of Muslims.
Nehru did not hide his real feelings about the vandalism of Aurangzeb. He writes: ?He was an austere puritan, a bigot tolerating no religion but his own. Deliberately, he laid down a policy of persecution of Hindus. Deliberately, he reversed Akbar'spolicy of conciliation and synthesis?He reimposed the Jaziya, excluded Hindus from office, gave offence to the Rajput nobles and brought about the Rajput war.? Not these alone. He ?destroyed Hindu temples by the thousands and many a beautiful building of the past was reduced to dust.?
As against this, he was a great admirer of India'spast. ?Their (Hindus?) moral and spiritual culture was so high that it could resist conversion?The blind bigotry of the Muslims was gradually tempered by the philosophic culture of the Hindus.?
But it is true he had a poor opinion of the Hindus among whom he lived. In a confidential letter dated 17.11.1953 addressed to his Home Minister K.N. Katju, he says: ?What real Hinduism may be is a matter for each individual Hindu to decide. We can take only as it is in practice and in practice the Hindu is certainly not tolerant and is more narrow-minded than almost any person in any other country except the Jews. It does not help much to talk of Hindu philosophy, which is magnificent. The fate of India is largely tied up with the Hindu outlook. If the present Hindu outlook does not change radically, I?m, quite sure that India is doomed. The Muslim outlook may be, and I think is often worse, but it does not make much difference to the future of India.? (emphasis mine)
Dear reader, the ?Muslim policy? of Gandhiji and Nehru might have been a Himalayan blunder, but they were under no spell. I am convinced that the appeasement policy of the Congress today is far more shameful than it ever was under Gandhiji and Nehru. Think it over.