In keeping with their religious differences, the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League had tended to pursue different interests. Whereas the main focus of the Indian National Congress was on Indian nationalism, the Muslim League was more concerned with religious separatism, advocating the establishment of a separate religious homeland within the boundaries of British India for the country’s minority Muslim population.
It was somewhat remarkable, then, that the two groups were able to put aside their differences in signing the Lucknow Pact, an agreement that allowed the representation of religious minorities in the provincial legislatures. To the surprise of many, Hindus and Muslims had joined forces to support common political goals. This held out the prospect of a peaceful transition to an independent India in which all religious communities would have a place.
By adopting a common stance, the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League were more effective in presenting their demands to the British colonial authorities. To a large extent, continued British rule in India depended on divisions between Hindus and Muslims, whose relations had traditionally been tense, to say the least. But once the Indian National Congress and Muslim League had signed the Lucknow Pact, it became more difficult for the British to rely on divide-and-rule tactics in administering India.