Did Jinnah and Nehru reject their sons-in-law for religious reasons?

It is also possible that both Jinnah and Nehru earnestly thought their respective sons-in-law were not suitable for their daughters and were just trying to protect them

2017-04-01T20:46:42+05:00 Aamir Butt

Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru were the two leading characters of the Partition drama. Although they were on opposite sides, there were many similarities between them. Both were nationalists and committed to their vision of the world and both wanted freedom for India. In their personal lives as well there are many common things. Both were Western educated lawyers who were secular, open minded and real gentlemen. Both of them had unhappy marital lives and both had a single child, a daughter (although Nehru did have a son but he died young).

Dina and Indira were very close in age with Indira just 20 months older than Dina. Interestingly their mothers were almost the same age; Kamala Nehru just 4 months older than Ruttie Jinnah. They also shared the continuous absence and neglect from their husbands who had their energies and time devoted to a higher ideal.

There is no indication that Dina and Indira ever played together or even met each other. Both of them had their schooling in England, had lonely, unhappy childhoods and lost their mothers at a young age with Dina being 9 and Indira 18.

It is a strange coincidence that both young ladies chose men as husbands who were rejected by their illustrious fathers! 

Dina chose Neville Wadia as her husband who was from the Parsi community. Jinnah asked her not to marry him, but she went ahead and tied the knot in 1938. What were the reasons for Jinnah’s opposition to the marriage? Well the popular narrative is that he did not want Dina to marry a non-Muslim, perhaps not because of his own religious prejudice (although those bent on portraying him as a jihadi mullah would even buy this) but because of the damage it would cause to his political career as a leader of Muslims. According to Mahommedali Currim Chagla, who was Jinnah’s assistant at the time, Jinnah said to Dina that she is no longer his daughter and after that either did not mention her or addressed her as Mrs Wadia.

Indira fell in love with Feroz Gandhi while he was devotedly looking after her ailing mother; Kamala had TB and Feroz was the only one who would clean her spittoon something even the servants refused. And few years after, Kamal died Indra married him in 1942. It is known that Nehru did not approve of the marriage; why so is not that clear for there is not Chagla substitute in this story. Accordingly it is thought that Nehru opposed Feroz as his son-in-law because of the lose character of Feroz who is portrayed as a drunkard. On the other hand, there have been rumors that Feroz was actually a Muslim and this was the reason for Nehru’s displeasure. I think this is highly unlikely and Feroz was a Parsi like Neville Wadia.

Moving away from popular narrative we can speculate as to why both Jinnah and Nehru opposed the choices made by their daughters. While Jinnah may well have been unhappy as Wadia was a non-Muslim, it is also quite possible that he may (just like Nehru) have thought him to be an unsuitable boy.  By the way, the story that Jinnah disowned Dina is not backed up by any evidence except by the words of Chagla; Jinnah never legally disowned Dina which being the astute follower of law that he was, he would have done if he so desired. There is also plenty of evidence which refutes the claims of those who say that he never reconciled with his daughter; on the contrary after only a few years Jinnah and Dina became quite close and frequently corresponded with each other. By reading these letters (unfortunately only Dina’s letters are available to us) we can see genuine warmth and love between them.

On the other hand it is possible that the real reason for Nehru opposing Indira’s marriage to Feroz was because he was not a Hindu and he was worried about the damage this will cause to his political career.

In my opinion it is possible that Nehru only gave his blessing to the marriage if the ceremony is held with Hindu marriage rituals and therefore symbolically his daughter married within the Hindu community. Perhaps if Dina and Neville’s marriage was to be a Muslim marriage Jinnah would have been fine with it; however I think neither Jinnah nor Dina had the hypocrisy in them to go ahead with such a farce.

Dina and Indira both had two children and both of their marriages failed within a few years. The fact that Dina separated from  Neville after just 5 years further points towards Jinnah giving her astute advise on the suitability of this match. I am not sure when Indira and Feroz separated, but Indira certainly lived with her father and became the heir to his political legacy.

Officially there never was a divorce in both marriages and so both Dina and Indira were legally married when their husbands died.

So to conclude as Oscar Wilde says the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple, we may never know the real dynamics of these two marriages. It is possible that both Jinnah and Nehru opposed the choice of their daughters due to religious prejudice or due to the fear for their own political careers.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru were the two leading characters of the Partition drama. Although they were on opposite sides, there were many similarities between them. Both were nationalists and committed to their vision of the world and both wanted freedom for India. In their personal lives as well there are many common things. Both were Western educated lawyers who were secular, open minded and real gentlemen. Both of them had unhappy marital lives and both had a single child, a daughter (although Nehru did have a son but he died young).

Dina and Indira were very close in age with Indira just 20 months older than Dina. Interestingly their mothers were almost the same age Kamala Nehru just 4 months older than Ruttie Jinnah. They also shared the continuous absence and neglect from their husbands who had their energies and time devoted to a higher ideal.

There is no indication that Dina and Indira ever played together or even met each other. Both of them had their schooling in England, had lonely unhappy childhoods and lost their mothers at a young age with Dina being 9 and Indira 18.

It is a strange coincidence that both young ladies chose men as husbands who were rejected by their illustrious fathers! 

Dina chose Neville Wadia as her husband who was from the Parsi community. Jinnah asked her not to marry him, but she went ahead and tied the knot in 1938. What were the reasons for Jinnah’s opposition to the marriage? Well the popular narrative is that he did not want Dina to marry a non-Muslim, perhaps not because of his own religious prejudice (although those bent on portraying him as a jihadi mullah would even buy this) but because of the damage it would cause to his political career as a leader of Muslims. According to Mahommedali Currim Chagla, who was Jinnah’s assistant at the time, Jinnah said to Dina that she is no longer his daughter and after that either did not mention her or addressed her as Mrs Wadia.

Indira fell in love with Feroz Gandhi while he was devotedly looking after her ailing mother; Kamala had TB and Feroz was the only one who would clean her spittoon something even the servants refused. And few years after Kamal died Indra married him in 1942. It is known that Nehru did not approve of the marriage; why so is not that clear for there is not Chagla substitute in this story. Accordingly it is thought that Nehru opposed Feroz as his son-in-law because of the lose character of Feroz who is portrayed as a drunkard. On the other hand, there have been rumors that Feroz was actually a Muslim and this was the reason for Nehru’s displeasure. I think this is highly unlikely and Feroz was a Parsi like Neville Wadia.

Moving away from popular narrative we can speculate as to why both Jinnah and Nehru opposed the choices made by their daughters. While Jinnah may well have been unhappy as Wadia was a non-Muslim, it is also quite possible that he may (just like Nehru) have thought him to be an unsuitable boy.  By the way, the story that Jinnah disowned Dina is not backed up by any evidence except by the words of Chagla; Jinnah never legally disowned Dina which being the astute follower of law that he was, he would have done if he so desired. There is also plenty of evidence which refutes the claims of those who say that he never reconciled with his daughter; on the contrary after only a few years Jinnah and Dina became quite close and frequently corresponded with each other. By reading these letters (unfortunately only Dina’s letters are available to us) we can see genuine warmth and love between them.

On the other hand it is possible that the real reason for Nehru opposing Indira’s marriage to Feroz was because he was not a Hindu and he was worried about the damage this will cause to his political career.

In my opinion it is possible that Nehru only gave his blessing to the marriage if the ceremony is held with Hindu marriage rituals and therefore symbolically his daughter married within the Hindu community. Perhaps if Dina and Neville’s marriage was to be a Muslim marriage Jinnah would have been fine with it; however I think neither Jinnah nor Dina had the hypocrisy in them to go ahead with such a farce.

Dina and Indira both had two children and both of their marriages failed within a few years. The fact that Dina separated from  Neville after just 5 years further points towards Jinnah giving her astute advise on the suitability of this match. I am not sure when Indira and Feroz separated, but Indira certainly lived with her father and became the heir to his political legacy.

Officially there never was a divorce in both marriages and so both Dina and Indira were legally married when their husbands died.

So to conclude as Oscar Wilde says the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple, we may never know the real dynamics of these two marriages. It is possible that both Jinnah and Nehru opposed the choice of their daughters due to religious prejudice or due to the fear for their own political careers. It is possible that both Jinnah and Nehru earnestly thought their respective sons-in-law were not suitable for their daughters and were just trying to protect them.

And it is also possible that one of them, either Jinnah or Nehru, was motivated by religious bigotry while other was not, and so anything is possible. But what is wrong is to say, as some do, with 100% certainty that Jinnah only opposed Dina’s marriage because Neville was a non-Muslim, while Nehru opposed Indira’s out of legitimate concerns for his daughter. Such a view in my opinion is nothing but biased.

It is possible that both Jinnah and Nehru earnestly thought their respective sons-in-law were not suitable for their daughters and were just trying to protect them.

And it is also possible that one of them, either Jinnah or Nehru, was motivated by religious bigotry while other was not, and so anything is possible. But what is wrong is to say, as some do, with 100% certainty that Jinnah only opposed Dina’s marriage because Neville was a non-Muslim, while Nehru opposed Indira’s out of legitimate concerns for his daughter. Such a view in my opinion is nothing but biased.

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