The first Prime Minister of independent India Jawaharlal Nehru believed that all Indian Muslims are descendants of Hindus. In his last television interview in May 1964, Nehru spoke about religious minority and religion-based partition of India in 1947.
In a video uploaded by Indian broadcaster Prasar Bharati on its YouTube channel, Nehru can be heard saying how some minority were afraid of India becoming free and they ‘remaining a minority’. At around 14 minutes into the video, Nehru says, “They didn’t like the idea at all.”
When American TV host Arnold Michaelis asks Nehru about involvement of Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and himself in the freedom movement, Nehru says categorically that Jinnah was not involved in the freedom struggle. “In fact, he opposed it. The Muslim League was started by 1911 and it was started really by the British, encouraged by them so as to create factions. And ultimately that came to partition.”
Nehru further states and Mahatma Gandhi was not in favour of the partition and neither was he. “But ultimately I decided like others did. It is better to have partition than this constant trouble. You see, the leaders of the Muslim League were big landlords who did not like land reform. We were very anxious to have land reforms, which we did have afterwards. That is the reason we agreed for partition,” Nehru said. He added that the Muslim League would have continued to create troubles and opposed other reforms the new government would’ve have taken and hence decided to go ahead with the partition.
Speaking about fraternal living with the Muslims in India, Nehru said, “Many hundreds of years and there was fraternal living. It was a religious concept more than anything. The Hindus were not and are not a ‘progenitising’ race. They didn’t care very much but the other party did. But Muslims were keen on ‘progenitising’ and getting converts. In fact, all the Muslims in India are descendants of Hindus. Only handful came from outside.”
When probed if the Muslims succeeded in ‘progenitising’, Nehru said, “Well, they did. Only to small extent. About less than a quarter of people after hundreds of years.” He further says that India at that time had the third largest Muslim population.