Social Scientist. v 27, no. 314-315 (July-Aug 1999) p. 48.

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The All India Hindu Mahasabha and the End of British Rule in India, 1939-1947

The Second World War fundamentally reshaped the relations between the British colonial state in India and the indigenous political parties, especially the so-called 'minor' organisations. This aspect, despite being an important facet of the 'process' of decolonisation, has been largely ignored in the existing historiography.2 Unlike earlier analyses, which have concentrated on 'high-level' political negotiations between the Congress, Muslim League and the Raj, this paper focuses on the relationship of the Hindu Mahasabha, during the conflict and the period immediately after it, with the colonial authorities. It also attempts to evaluate the party's role in the political isolation of the Government of India between 1944 and 1947.


There has been a spate of studies dealing with the growth and development of 'Hindu Nationalism' and 'Hindu Communalism' in the Indian sub-continent over last decade.3 Rosalind O'Hanlon has pointed out, for instance, how research dealing with some of the wider aspects of social and political changes in the colonial context has advanced our understanding about the notions of 'communalism'.4 A particular favourite amongst historians, current interest in the topic has to a large degree, been fuelled by recurring instances of riots between the Hindus and Muslims in post-independence India, as well as the political fallout of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992. Therefore, investigations into the 'communalist' nature of Indian politics has continued to be an important area of research, and studies have sought to examine

Pembroke College, Cambridge University, England

Department of History, School of Cultural Studies Sheffield Hallam University, England

Social Scientist, Vol.27, Nos. 7-8, July - August 1999

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