Jinnah’s tryst with the Madras presidency


For thirty year Mohammed Ali Jinnah hadn’t visited Madras. He had a pretty sore relationship with the city and its theosophical society.

Jinnah’s marriage with his young wife collapsed when she turned theosophical, conducted séances, consulted astrologers and as a last straw wanted to put her daughter in the society’s Madras school. It’s worth speculating that perhaps the over indulgence of Parsi born Ruttie in Hindu occult turned secularist Jinnah into a hardened Islamic fundamentalist.Periyar_with_Jinnah_and_Ambedkar

In 1941 Muslim nationalism was raging in the north and in Nizam’s Hyderabad but in Madras presidency was just a murmur. Ever ready to spread his wings, Jinnah readily agreed to preside over the Muslim league’s 28th session in the Madras people’s park in an enclosure named after him- Jinnahbad.

Collecting the resources to run the meet proved tough but enough was accumulated to ensure a grand show befitting the stature of the presiding personality.

Travelling by Bombay mail, Jinnah alighted in Arakonam and changed into a special train. To add to the organiser’s woes Jinnah was falling sick.  They decided that a public reception would be too telling on his well being and so he  alighted  at basin bridge station. Having managed to climb the overbridge to a car waiting for him he drove to the Harrington road Beverly Hills house,

Not knowing the change of plans , huge crowds had gathered all the way from central railway station to big mosque Triplicane.

The train entering  central station had a loud welcome of slogans of “jinnah zindabad and moslem leauge zindabad” The Raja of Mahudabad took Jinnah’s place in the procession  in a florally decked car. Most of the crowd mistook him for  Jinnah and cheered him till their  throats were hoarse.  The raja must have been enthused at this one time opportunity to eminence and waved to the crowd. (The Mehmoodabad area of Karachi is named after him.  The raja’s estate had both Motilal Nehru and Jinnah as guardians when he was a minor.)j2 (1)

The 1200 delegates congregated in Jinnahbad for the hoisting the league flag and were disappointed again. Unfortunately Jinnah was sick still and so the rajah was asked to hoist the flag. His luck hadn’t run out yet. He even presided over the working committee meeting for Jinnah still hadn’t recovered.

On the 14th April to the relief of the organisers, Jinnah was escorted through the side entrance at 3 pm. He salaamed to the crowd and was treated with loud cheers of allahu Akbar and Jinnah zindabad. Though weak, he was cheerful and overwhelmed seeing the crowd.  Surprisingly a lot of non-Muslim leaders had been invited to the dais. Ev Ramaswamy, Rk Shanmukham Chetty- Dewan of Cochin and Kumararaja Muthiah Chettiar and even the editor of swadesa mitran Cr Srinivasan listened as Jinnah spoke extempore for 2 hours.  In the address, Jinnah spoke in Urdu initially but switched to his comfort zone in English. He paid a tribute to Madras and acclaimed that the city knew so many languages. Comparing himself with it he said he knew neither Tamil not Telugu and very bad Urdu.Quaid-e-Azam addressing the party workers in Madras

In his presidential address Jinnah said since the fall of the Mughal Empire, Muslim population in India had never been so well organized, so alive and so politically conscious. He also announced his determination to establish an independent Muslim state. In addition he threw a bomb shell and actually asked for trifurcation of the country.  “Three percent of Brahmins by skilful manoeuvring and deceitful means of electioneering had secured a majority in Madras” he accused. Other than Pakistan, Jinnah demanded Dravidasthan as the third nation of India and assured non Brahmins to the fullest support of the Muslims.j1

The press and Congress had indignant responses. Some papers even called jinnah as the greatest tragedy that india faced. Jinnah supporting dravidasthan made the justice party leaders were very happy. Annamalai chettiar gave a luncheon party for jinnah and important delegates at his adayar palace

On advice of the doctor Jinnah cancelled his departure to Bangalore on April 20 and left two days later.

However much to the disappointment of the Dravidian leaders he would not bear cudgels for them thereafter. Looking back on those days it was the closest the Dravidanadu ever came to being created.

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