The high profile leaders of the All India Muslim League and the Indian National Congress met at Lucknow in 1916 to ponder over the self-government in India. Both the parties agreed on the Congress-League Scheme commonly known as Lucknow Pact. Congress was led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Maratha leader and Jinnah presided over the All India Muslim League. Jinnah advocated that both the Hindus and Muslims should live in amity to resist against the British Raj and attain self-government in India for the Indians.
Lucknow Pact is reckoned as a remarkable landmark in the history of Indo-Pak as the Hindus, for the first time, accepted the Muslims as a separate entity while prior to this, the Muslims had been granted the right of separate electorate in the Minto-Morley Reforms of 1909.
The salient features of Lucknow Pact are as under:
- Hindus surrendered to the separate identity of the Muslims for the first time and agreed on the separate Muslim electorate.
- The Muslims succeeded in getting 1/3 number of seats in the Imperial Legislative Council, 50% seats reserved in Punjab,40% in Bengal,33% in Bombay, 25% in the U.P. and 15% each for the Central and Madras assemblies.
- The provinces shall be given the provincial autonomy while the solutions for the communal issues shall be sought. The members of the Legislative assemblies shall enjoy the right of presenting adjournment motions. Seats shall be reserved for the Muslims in those provinces where the Hindus are in majority while the Hindus shall be given safety in those provinces where the Muslims enjoy the majority. The Pact also agreed that no resolution can be presented and passed in the assembly which harms the interests of the other community without their approval.
M.A. Jinnah, in his presidential address, said:
“Our joint conferences in Lucknow were marked by honest efforts on either side to find a lasting solution of our differences, and I rejoice to think that a final settlement has at last been reached which sets the seal on Hindu-Muslim cooperation and opens a new era in the history of our country. Towards the Hindus our attitude should be of good-will and brotherly feelings. Cooperation in the course of our Motherland should be guiding principle. India’s real progress can only be achieved by a true understanding and harmonious relations between the two sister communities”.
Lucknow Pact proved to be an important advancement to the Hindu-Muslim unity and both the parties united together to fight for the common cause of the self-government. Jinnah was called the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity after the Pact was signed.