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While much has been discussed about the British policy of divide-and-rule while governing India (and other colonies), another fact that has not received the same attention is the enormous support received by the Muslim League from India's Muslims. Why was the Congress not able to convince India's Muslim population that they would be better off in united India?

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All throughout history, Muslims and Hindus, have often been in a state of conflict. They have never really wanted to be one state. Trying to put the two groups together would be link trying to unite the Croatia with Serbia. It just wouldn't work. –  Russell Sep 12 '12 at 23:20
In my opinion, before the arrival of the British, the Mughals had successfully integrated the Hindus into their system of administration. So, it would be wrong to say that the two communities have been in conflict throughout history. Moreover, what is strange is the fact that many Muslims had to remain back in India (since they lived in Hindu majority areas) even after the creation of Pakistan. So it was not in their interest to see India's partition. But even among those Muslims support for the Muslim League was strong. After independence, most of them supported the Congress. –  Arani Sep 13 '12 at 13:49
@user571376 Minor correction: The Mughal empire only briefly managed to consolidate Hindus and Muslims under one empire. After Aurangzeb the support for the Marathas was very high amongst the Hindus and under his rulership much of the previous work done by his predecessors had been undone. The British merely capitalized on existing tensions. –  Apoorv Khurasia Sep 14 '12 at 12:05
@MonsterTruck While Aurangzeb's policies were hated by the Hindus, they still did not alienate them completely. The Rajputs continued to be loyal to the Mughals. The Marathas were not respected by the people outside their domain because they plundered the resources of the nearby traders and farmers. While the Marathas' first ruler Shivaji was widely respected, he died much before Aurangzeb. That the Hindus still respected the Mughals is testified by the fact that the Hindus sepoys after raising the banner of revolt in 1857 proclaimed the Mughal emperor as their leader. –  Arani Sep 17 '12 at 18:29

1 Answer 1

In Indian political thought there were two basic competing organizing theories, rather simply called The Two Nation Theory and the single Indian nation theory (or Greater India).

The basic idea behind the single nation theory is that Muslims and Hindus and many other religous communities as well are all intertwined alongside various languages and religous communities into one larger cultural unit. The idea behind the Two-Nation theory is that Hindus and Muslims, due to various prohibitions against cultural exchances like intermarriage, are essentially two separate nations. Most (but not all) adherents to this theory feel that India should be for Hindus exclusively and Muslims should have their own countries.

It isn't too hard to see why the Two Nation theory is more attractive to Muslims. It offers them the chance to live in a country where they run things. All the single nation theory offers them is a perpertual life as a minority in a country dominated by Hindus.

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Very true. I have to agree to this partially. However, we must also keep in mind that a very significant portion of the Muslims had to remain back in India. The Muslim League gained support from those sections of the Muslims also. The reason behind their support for Pakistan/Muslim League is still not clear. –  Arani Sep 17 '12 at 18:32
@Arani - the reason for this support was propaganda, insecurities and uncertainties. –  user49727 Sep 8 '13 at 10:09
@user49727 But, if anything, the idea of partition should have made the Muslims who would have to live in India even more insecure. They would have very firmly opposed partition because it was in their own interests. But this did not happen. –  Arani Sep 8 '13 at 15:16

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