Why did political leaders differ sharply over the question of separate electorates?

Nationalist Congress saw this movement as the seed of divide and rule which can makes the national movement weak. By this the British can rule over India as long they wish to rule. So, political leaders differed sharply over the question of separate electorates because of differences in opinion. While those supporting the cause of minorities and the dalits believed that only political empowerment would resolve their social backwardness, others like Gandhi ji thought that separate electorates would further slow down the process of their integration into society.

Also, it was feared that the system of separate electorates would gradually divide the country into numerous fragments because every community or class would then ask for separate representations.

In 1930, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the President of the Muslim league, re-stated the importance of separate electorates for the Muslims as an important safeguard for their minority political interests.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who organized the dalits into the Depressed Classes Association in 1930, clashed with Gandhi at the Second Round Table Conference by demanding separate electorates for dalits. When the British government conceded Ambedkar’s demand, Gandhi ji began a fast unto death. Ambedkar ultimately accepted Gandhi’s position.