Azad's Discussions with the Mission April 17

CMP(7A) Maulana Azad's discussions with the Mission on 17 April 1946
Documents included
  • Record of Meeting between Cabinet Delegation and Viscount Wavell on 17 April 1946 (excerpts)
  • Record of Meeting of the Cabinet Delegation and Viscount Wavell with Maulana Azad on 17 April 1946 (excerpts)
From 'The Transfer of Power 1942-7' Volume VII The Cabinet Mission 23 March-29 June 1946, Eds, Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, 1977.

Maulana Azad had issued a statement on April 15 (ref. footnote in CMP(6)) and the Cabinet Delegation asked  him to explain further his ideas for Union federation in that statement.  The differences between Jinnah's position and Maulana Azad's position on the structure of the Union as understood by the Delegation were summarized by them in a meeting prior to that with the Maulana.

118 page 288(excerpts)
Record of Meeting between Cabinet Delegation and Field Marshal Viscount Wavell on Wednesday, 17 April at 10.45 am

I. The Secretary of State said that he had been thinking over the manner of putting across the idea of an Indian Union confined to defence and foreign affairs with two federations for Pakistan and Hindustan underneath it. He thought there was some danger of selling two different articles under the same name.

Jinnah's way of arriving at a satisfactory Pakistan was to dissolve the existing apparatus and rebuild on the basis of Pakistan. When the Pakistan State existed he would be prepared to construct some sort of Agency Centre through a Treaty.

Congress on the other hand would start with the existing Centre and subtract the optional subjects. The first involved undoing the Indian Army and re-creating it as two armies, then making some arrangements for co-operation. The second meant that the main army would remain under the Central Government though Hindustan and Pakistan might have smaller forces of their own.

Sir S. Cripps thought it did not much matter how the result was reached, whether by a constitution or by a Treaty, or otherwise, provided that the result was an Executive Body controlling defence and foreign policy.

II. The Viceroy said that the positions appeared to be that Jinnah had not moved at all. Sir S. Cripps said he was seeing Jinnah that evening and that if he got no indication that Jinnah was prepared to move, he thought that the Delegation must proceed to get out its own base of settlement. This should then be shown to the two Parties confidentially who might be asked if they had any observations on it before it was published. It was essential to do something which would have the support of one side. If Jinnah would not play he inevitably drove us into the arms of the Congress.

III. It was agreed that in meeting the Congress that afternoon nothing should be said about what had passed with Jinnah except that the Delegation had put certain suggestions to Jinnah which he was thinking over and that his final reply was awaited.  Sir S. Cripps said that he would like it to be indicated to Azad that we should be reaching a decisive stage soon after Easter.

The Viceroy suggested that it would be desirable to press Azad to enlarge upon his recent statement. Sir S Cripps said there was nothing new in this statement. He understood independently that the question in the minds of Congress was whether they could agree to a federation for optional subjects distinct from the Central Federation and whether there would be a Legislature at that level or only a Executive for joint administrative operations. It was agreed that it would be desirable to get the position clarified on this point.

The Viceroy that it would be desirable to put first the statements about Paramountcy and the Interim Government. He thought both these should be mentioned very broadly and as unalterable facts of the situation in order to avoid arguments being raised on them. Sir S. Cripps thought that these two matters might be dealt with as an introduction to the subject of Azad's statement and the nature of the federation.

Sir S. Cripps said that he thought that fairly soon the Congress would want to know what are the points we wish to raise in a Treaty. The meeting had before them a note of the Treaty points prepared by Sir William Croft. It was agreed that the main matter was financial obligations, including the rights of Services...
(end excerpts)

121 page 294(excerpts)
Record of Meeting of the Cabinet Delegation and Field Marshal Viscount Wavell with Maulana Azad on Wednesday, 17 April 1946 at 4.45 pm

The Secretary of State said that the Delegation had now practically completed hearing the views of the various parties and interests and were anxious to get on with reaching a settlement as quickly as possible. They considered that the Pakistan question was the main issue and very much hoped that it might be possible for an agreement to be reached on this subject between the Congress and the Muslim League since this was obviously the only satisfactory method. They could, however, assure the Maulana that they did not intend to allow lack of agreement between the two main parties on this issue to impede the settlement of India's independence.

The Delegation had seen Mr. Jinnah and put to him general suggestions designed to make bridge between his standpoint and that of the Congress. They were still awaiting Mr. Jinnah's final response and would prefer not to say anything about that at present except that they were sure that in any discussions on these they could count on the Congress showing a spirit of compromise.

Meanwhile, there were other matters which would have to be settled on which the Delegation felt that it would be useful to have a discussion with Congress representatives.  The first of these was the future of the Indian states.
Next in importance to the settlement of the Pakistan issue was the formation of a new Executive Council at the Centre.

The Secretary of State proceeding said that the Delegation had been interested in the Maulana's recent statement* on the question of federation and would like to know his views in rather more detail. They understood that his idea was that there should be a Centre for the whole of India with a Legislature and Executive and that this Centre  should deal with certain compulsory and with certain optional subjects in respect of these Provinces which opt to come in for them. The Maulana would remember that Sir S. Cripps had made the suggestion that the Provinces might be grouped for the optional subjects into two federations subject to an all-India Federation. This was an interesting point which the Delegation would like to discuss further with the Maulana.

Maulana Azad said he would like to know whether the Delegation's talks with Mr. Jinnah had produced any response at all from Mr. Jinnah and whether they were expecting any further reply from him. The Secretary of State said that the Delegation expect to be seeing Mr. Jinnah again after their return from Kashmir. Mr. Jinnah had certain points to think over and they felt it better not to say anything to the Maulana on that subject at present.

With reference to the suggestion for a Council representing the States and British India in the interim period, the Maulana asked whether the Political Advisor to the Crown Representative could not during that period be an Indian. The Viceroy explained...
(approx. 1 page of discussion)
The Maulana said that before we came to discuss these points he would like to be clear about the powers of the interim Executive. Would it have plenary powers or not..
(approx. 2 pages of discussion)

The Secretary of State then asked the Maulana to deal with the last point raised in his opening statement, namely, the structure of the Union as envisaged in his recent statement.

The Maulana said that as he had already explained there would be two lists of Central subjects, optional and compulsory. The precise division of subjects between the two was a matter of detail but he agreed that the essential subjects for the compulsory list were foreign affairs and defence and that, broadly speaking, the optional list would cover all remaining Central subjects under the existing constitution.

The Secretary of State said that he would like to envisage clearly the position under this proposal. If some Provinces decided not to opt for the second list there would come into being a Centre having different relations with two sets of Provinces, some federated for a wider range of subjects than others. This seemed to the Delegation  to involve the sub-division of the Centre into two parts dealing with (a) the Provinces that opt for the full range of subjects, and (b) the Provinces that are federated for the compulsory subjects only.

If there  were anything in the nature of Pakistan you could not prevent those Provinces that were within it from agreeing on their own to pool some of their subjects in the optional field together and it would seem to work out in practice as a separate Centre for Pakistan and Hindustan with a super-Centre above it dealing with the compulsory subjects.

Maulana Azad said that so long as we were proceeding on the assumption of  a federal constitution there would be no question of a division into two parts. There would be Provinces where the Muslims happened to have a majority and other Provinces. Some sort of legislative and executive machinery would have to be set up to deal with the two divisions of compulsory and optional subjects.

Sir S. Cripps said it might reasonably be assumed that the Hindu majority Provinces would federate for the optional subjects and that the Muslim majority Provinces would not. You would then get a Centre with a Legislature and Executive comprising all Provinces. Was it practicable for the Muslims in these two bodies to take part in the decision of optional matters for which the Provinces which they represented had not opted?

The Maulana said that the representatives of the Muslim provinces need not participate in the work of the Executive and the Legislature when the optional subjects were under consideration but Sir Stafford Cripps pointed out that it would be difficult to prevent them from attending the Legislature if they wished to do so and very difficult to define exactly which subjects of debate were optional.

Foreign Affairs, for example, might have implications in the optional field. It would be most difficult to define exactly which subjects of debate were optional.  It would be most difficult to work a system of that kind. He thought you must either have a Legislature on two parts sitting together for the compulsory field, or two Legislatures with a separate Legislature for the compulsory subjects. If you allowed only the representatives of the Hindu Provinces to participate for the optional subjects you must allow the Muslim Provincial representatives to discuss the optional subjects separately if they wished to do so.

The Maulana said that this was a matter that he must consider further, and Sir Stafford Cripps said that it was a very important point which might go a long way to meet some of the Muslim objections to the Congress proposal.  Provided that a Centre was kept together for the compulsory subjects the Congress might be prepared to consider the idea.

Sir S. Cripps said that the Executive would have to be in two compartments also so far as the optional subjects were concerned. You could not have the same minister for, say, education, if that were an optional subject, controlling the policy in both the Hindu and the Muslim majority Provinces.

The Maulana said there were many other matters which needed to be discussed such as the future relationships between Britain and India. The Delegation said that they would like the Maulana to  let them have a list of the points which he would like to discuss so that they could consider them before they met him again.

The Maulana said that he would discuss the matters which had been put to him by the Delegation with the Working Committee. He wished to say that he was most anxious to explore ways and means of bringing the Muslim League and Congress closer together if possible. Could the Delegation make any suggestion to this end?

The Secretary of State said that at the present state they were not able to do so. As he had said in the beginning, Mr. Jinnah was considering what the Delegation had said to him and they had nothing to say to the Congress on that subject that day.


CMP(1) -  From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman'

CMP(2) -  Congress and Muslim League positions on 12 May 1946

CMP(3) -  The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946

CMP(4) - Jinnah  and ML  responses to the CMP 22 May  and June 6 1946

CMP(5) -  Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegation on 4 April 1946

CMP(6) -  Jinnah's meeting with Missiion Delegation on 16 April 1946

CMP(7A) - Maulana Azad's meeting with Mission Delegation on 17 April 1946

CMP(7) -  The Congress unease with parity  8-9 May 1946

CMP(7B) - Jinnah and Azad responses to preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946

CMP(8A) - Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union

CMP(8) -  More exchanges on parity, Simla Conference meeting  11 May 1946

CMP(9) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and CMP, 8 Jan. and 25 May 1946

CMP(10) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946

CMP(11) -   Congress opposition to grouping. Gandhi, Patel and Azad, May 1946

CMP(12) - Congress Working Committee resolutions, May-June 1946

CMP(12A) - Arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim, June 1946

CMP(12B) - Behind the scenes-Gandhi, June-July 1946

CMP(12C) - Behind the scenes-Jinnah, June-July 1946

CMP(13) - Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946

CMP(14) - League rejected Plan, called Direct Action,  July-August 1946

CMP(15) - Viceroy strong-arming Nehru, Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick-Lawrence to Attlee, Aug -Sept 1946

CMP(16) - Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, Sept. 1946

CMP(17) - League Boycott of the Constituent Assembly Dec. 1946

CMP(17A) - Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947

CMP (A1) - Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Wavell

CMP(A2) - North West Frontier Province, Oct-Nov 1946 and Feb-March 1947

CMP(A3) - Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946

CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947

CMP (18) - My take

CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?

CMP(20) - Another take -with links to reference material

CMP(21) - Mountbatten discussing CMP with Patel and Jinnah, 24-26 Apr 1947

CMP(22) - A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan

Extra(1) - Jinnah's speech in March 1941 on independent sovereign Pakistan

Extra(1A) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942

Extra(1B) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940

Extra(1C) - Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45

Extra(2) - Gandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan

Extra(3) - BR Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'

Extra(4) - Congress and Muslim parties' on the Communal question 1927-1931

Extra(4A) - Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928

Extra(4B) - Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38

Extra(5) -  BR Ambedkar on Communal Representation 1909-1947

Extra(6) - Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947

Extra(6A) - Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43

Extra (6B) - Apr-Jul 1947 Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah

Extra(7) - M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory

Extra(8) - On Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies

Extra(9) - Links to cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys from the Daily Mail, UK, 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth

Extra(10) -Nehru Report 1928 (10 MB pdf)
Extra(11) -Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, May-June 1937

Extra(12) -Jinnah, Linlithgow, Sikander Hayat, Pakistan rumblings 1942-43

Durga Das (1) 1919-1931, Jallianwala Bagh to Bhagat Singh

Durga Das (2) 1931-1936, Crescent Card: Jinnah in London to Fazli Husain in Punjab

Durga Das(3) 1937-1940, Provincial Autonomy to Jinnah gets the veto

Durga Das(4) 1940-1945, The War Years: India's War Effort-Pakistan on a platter

Durga Das(5) 1945-1947, The Cabinet Mission to Divide and Quit

1937-1940(2)  Congress and Jinnah fall out in U.P., Jinnah's anti-Congress campaign and the Viceroy gives Jinnah a Veto: Ayesha Jalal, Sarvepalli Gopal and Stanley Wolpert

1937: Congress-Jinnah tussle over coalition government in U. P., M.J. Akbar

1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad

1939-1940: India and the War, Anita Inder Singh

1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh

1857-1938 Glimpses of British policy in Punjab: Ian Talbot and David Page

1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher

Glendevon (1) 1937: Congress's Office Acceptance Saga over Governor's Powers

Glendevon (2) 1937-1940: Federation, Jinnah, Congress activism in Princely States

Glendevon (3) 1939-1942: Linlithgow, Congress, Jinnah,War-time Realignments

1939-1947: Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila

1944:  Gandhi-Jinnah talks 1944, Jaswant Singh

1830s-1898: British Forward Policy(1)

1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)

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