Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bangladesh, Coalition Ministry, !937

Under the provincial Constitution imposed on Bengal by Govt. of India Act 1935,Bengali Hindus were permanently debarred from excercising any political Power in their province.
250 seats in Bengal Legislative Assembly were apportioned as follows,
1. 117 for Muslims of Bengal elected by only Muslim electorate,
2. 48 for any resident of Bengal elected by general frnchise,
3. 30 for persons belonging to Hindu "Scheduled" castes-certain castes regarded as "depressed" elected by general franchise,
4. 19 seats for reprentatives of industries, commmerce, elected by their electorate,
5. 11 seats for Europeans,persons of British origintemporarily residing in Bengal , elected by their electorate,
6. 8 for labor, chosen by their special electorate,
7. 5 for land owners , chosen by their special electorate,
8. 3 for Anglo Indians, chosen by their special electorates,
9. 2 for Indian Christians, chosen by their special electorate,
10. 2 for universities
11. 2 for woman,
12. 2 for Muslim woman,
13. 1 for Anglo-Indian woman.
As a result of this act, Bengal Hindus were eligible to compete in 117 (250-117-11-2 -2-1= 117 ), seats at most, to be elected by general franchise. Even among these 117 seats, 30 were reserved for scheduled castes,quite arbitrary picked. On the other hand,
Muslims could contest 203 seats (117+48+19+8+5+2+2+2= 2o3), 117 to be elected by a Muslim electorate. Based on 1931 census numbers of Muslim population in Bengal were
52-54 %, which clearly did not justify the numerical distribution of 203-117, even if one wwas to accept the underlying premise of communal and castiest electorate . British community of Bengal was given 4 % of seats in Assembly when there population was not above 0.0004 %. In reality the position of Hindus was even worse than what this unfair statute implies.They did not win 117 seats they were eligible for . Besides some of the winners, from both high as well as scheduled castes joined with Muslims against general Hindu group, including Nalini Ranjan Sarker, finance minister in Huq-league ministry formed in 1937, whose resignation or lack thereof , was the subject of Gandhi.
In such a condition Congress emerged as the largest party in the legislative assembly, followed by Muslim League and Krishak Praja party. Bengal Muslim votes were almost evenly split between all -india Muslim league , which in Bengal was the party of upper class Muslims, and Fazlul Huq's Krishak Praja party (KPP),which was the party of peasants and tenants. Because ofthe electoral system described above, a coalition system was inevitable. Huq first approached the Congress, but AICCwas unwilling to co-operate with any other party in provinces where they did not have absolute majority.That forced Huq to join with the league to form the Ministry and eventually the focus of KPP-League coalition shifted from socio-economic reforms to communal issues.
Congress refusal was a mistake. Because of the numerical distribution, coalition ministry was inevitable. In assam Congress did decide to share a power in a coalition Govt. A.K. Fazlul Huq (1873-1962)