Behind the scenes-Gandhi

CMP(12B) Behind the scenes - Gandhi,  June - July 1946
Documents included:
  • Lord Wavell's note  on interview with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, June 12, 1946 (excerpt),  The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Volume VII The Cabinet Mission, Eds. Nicholas Mansergh and  Penderel Moon.
  • Letter to Lord Wavell, June 12, 1946
  • Letter to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, June 13, 1946             
  • Speech at Prayer Meeting, June 19, 1946 (excerpt)   
  • Speech at Congress Working Committee meeting, June 19, 1946
  • Speech at Congress Working Committee meeting, June 21, 1946
  • Speech at Prayer meeting, June 21, 1946 (excerpt)
  • Speech at Congress Working Committee Meeting, June 23, 1946
  • Speech at Prayer meeting, June 23, 1946
  • Interview with Cabinet Delegation, 7 a.m., June 24, 1946
  • Talk with Vallabhbhai Patel-I, June 24, 1946
  • Discussion at Congress Working Committee meeting-I, June 24 1946
  • Draft letter to Lord Wavell, June 24, 1946
  • Discussion at Congress Working Committee meeting-II, June 24 1946
  • Interview with Cabinet Delegation, 8 p.m., June 24, 1946
  • Talk with Vallabhbhai Patel-II, June 24, 1946
  • Letter to Sir Stafford Cripps, June 24, 1946
  • Hindustan Times, June 25, 1946, Grouping Clause controversy
  • Speech at Prayer meeting, June 25, 1946
  • Speech at Congress Working Committee meeting, June 25, 1946
  • Talk with Norman Cliff, June 29, 1946
  • Speech at A.I.C.C, July 7, 1946
  • Harijan, written July 9, 1946
Unless otherwise mentioned, quoted in full text from the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 91, available at http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL091.PDF.

Comment
What Gandhi really thought of the Cabinet Mission Plan of 16 May 1946 and of the Interim government  proposals of Viceroy Wavell can be best understood by reading records of his conversations and letters during the June-July 1946 period.  

Gandhi began by expressing doubts about the grouping provisions of the Cabinet Mission Plan and asserting that the Plan was the best that could be expected from the British but was not necessarily the best for India and moreover, he considered that the Plan was more in the nature of a recommendation than an unchangeable injunction on Indians about their future constitution. Gandhi's 26 May 1946 Harijan article on the Cabinet Mission Plan of 16 May 1946 can be found in [CMP[11]]. However, he argued against outright rejection to the Congress Working Committee.

Gandhi later developed deeper misgivings about the Plan, the Constituent Assembly and the Interim government. His misgivings   appear to have been related to:

1.  the Muslim League  resolution of acceptance [CMP(4)] and Jinnah's apparently stated intentions of 'watering the seeds of Pakistan' by joining the Interim Government.

2.  the British government's initial acceptance of Jinnah's  claims  to  League parity with the Congress in the Interim Government and to League's sole right to nominate Muslims to it. Later,  the Viceroy's assurances on the June 16 Plan about Jinnah's  right to be consulted in the future appointments of  the Scheduled Caste and other minority nominees in addition to  the sole right to nominate all Muslims. These assurances (revealed by Jinnah when he released his correspondence with the Viceroy to the public on 21 June 1946),  effectively reduced the 6:5:3 formula to 5:5:4, reduced the Congress to parity with the League and denied the Congress  the right to nominate anyone  in its own quota  except Caste Hindus[see CMP[12C] Behind the scenes-Jinnah]. Also Gandhi's opinion that a coalition government formed with the  two  parties would be  unworkable.

3.  the fact that the Muslim League, the Congress and the British all seemed to  interpret the long term Cabinet Mission Plan in different ways, and the British government's apparent intention  to enforce the grouping provisions by asking candidates  for the Constituent Assembly to sign an undertaking about the grouping clause (19). Gandhi's apprehension on the undertaking was later allayed, but the British government did uphold compulsory grouping in the following months.

4. Gandhi's doubts about whether the British government intended to concede India full  independence,   the probable limitations they meant to place on the sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly  and the powers of the  Interim government and their 'interference' through the over-represented European members of  the Constituent Assembly in framing of India's constitution.

After expressing his misgivings and causing delay in the  Congress's acceptance of the long term part of the Plan (the Interim Government being the 'short term' part),  Gandhi finally left the decision to the Congress Working Committee.

Thereafter, Gandhi stood behind the Congress Working Committee's acceptance of the long term Plan and during the subsequent All India Congress Committee meetings spoke in favor of the CWC acceptance of the Plan to  dissenting Congressmen. He told dissenting Congressmen that their opposition must be backed by  offers of a better alternative; that either they should work constructively through the Constituent Assembly despite its limitations and deficiencies or they should offer the country another constructive course of action.

503 Page 884 (excerpt)
Note by Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
Note on Interview with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
12 June 1946
..
2.  Patel said that I was quite correct in saying that he was opposed to the acceptance of the Statement, but so was the whole of the Working Committee, there was no-one in favour of it. I said that I thought there must be more moderation in Congress than that. He said that Gandhi had put forward all the arguments for acceptance, but had failed to convince the Working Committee; and Patel himself was all packed up ready to go to Bombay today when he had been asked to stop. He said that it was quite impossible for them to accept the matter of parity. We then had a discussion on the parity issue. I said that I entirely appreciated the Congress point of view, but that it was not a precedent, merely an expedient to get over a difficulty. I pointed out that we had not adopted the parity solution in the Constituent Assembly or in the Union Legislature, and that there was no reason for fearing it as a precedent. He said that it was being taken as a precedent even in villages and on municipal committees and so forth. He then went on to say that Jinnah would only use his position in the Interim Government for purely communal and disruptive purposes and break up India. I said I was quite certain that that would not be Jinnah's attitude, and that he could trust me to see that any attempt by Jinnah or either party to make the Interim Government a battleground for communal politics instead of an instrument for administering India would be prevented. Patel was not at all convinced, but said finally that if Jinnah and Nehru met and could agree on a list of names of the Government, he would be prepared to accept it. He said that it would be better if they sat alone, with no-one else.
..
 

190. LETTER TO LORD WAVELL
VALMIKI MANDIR, READING ROAD,
NEW DELHI,
June 12, 1946
DEAR FRIEND,
From you, almost straight away, I went to the Working Committee which, owing to his illness, was held at Maulana Saheb’s quarters. I gave them the gist of our conversation, told them that I gladly endorsed your suggestion about the parties meeting to fix up names subject to the provision that no party should talk of parity[1], you should invite them simply to submit to you a joint list of the Cabinet of the Provisional Interim Government which you would approve or, if you did not, you would invite them to submit a revised list bearing in mind your amendments, that the list should represent a coalition Government composed of persons of proved ability and incorruptibility.

I suggested too that in the place of parity there should be active enforcement of the long-term provision in your joint Statement  that in all major communal issues there should be communal voting to decide them. I suggested also that in the event of absence of agreement between the parties in spite of all effort, you should examine the merits of the respective lists of the two parties and accept either the one or the other (not an amalgam) and announce the names of the Interim Government but that before that final step was taken you should closet yourselves until a joint list was prepared. I told the Working Committee that you had seemed to endorse my suggestions.
 
I told them further that, so far as I knew, it was a point of honour with Congressmen that there could be no joint consultation in which Maulana Saheb was not associated with the talks. You said it was a sore point with Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah and I replied that the soreness was wholly unwarranted and that the Congress could not be expected to sacrifice its faithful servant of twenty-five years’ standing whose self-sacrifice and devotion to the national cause had never been in question. But I told you that your great experience and ability to handle delicate matters would show you the way out of the difficulty.

Finally, I told the Committee that I drew your attention to the fact that the European vote which was being talked of was unthinkable, in connection with the Constituent Assembly and nothing but a public declaration by the European residents of India or one by you on their behalf could make possible the formation of the Constituent Assembly. I gathered from you that the question was already engaging your attention and that it should be satisfactorily solved.

Probably you have already moved in the matter of the joint talk. Nevertheless, I thought that I owed it to you and the Working Committee to put on record what I had reported about our talks. If I have in any way misunderstood you, will you please correct me? I may say that the Working Committee had its draft letter ready but at my suggestion it postponed consideration of it pending the final result of your effort adumbrated in this letter. The draft letter takes the same view that I placed before you yesterday on parity and the European vote and their election as members of the contemplated Constituent Assembly.

I close with the hope that your effort will bear the fruit to which all are looking forward.
                                                                                                                                                        Yours sincerely,
                                                                                                                                                                    M. K. GANDHI

The Transfer of Power, 1942-47, Vol. VII, pp. 877-8

[1] In his letter to Lord Wavell dated June 8, M. A. Jinnah had claimed that the Viceroy had given him “the assurance that there will be only twelve portfolios, five on behalf of the League, five Congress, one Sikh and one Christian or Anglo-Indian”. During the meeting with the Cabinet Delegation on June 8, the Viceroy said that “he had given no assurance to Mr. Jinnah” but he thought that “the 5 : 5 : 2 ratio as the most hopeful basis of settlement” and that he was working on that basis. He told them that M. A. Jinnah “had taken a very strong line about the Interim Government and had said that the Muslim League would not be prepared to come in except on the basis of 5 : 5 : 2 distribution of portfolios, between the Muslim League, the Congress, and the minorities”. This parity between the Congress and the Muslim League was wholly unacceptable to the Congress.

 

197. LETTER TO LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
                                                                                                                                                                        NEW DELHI,
                                                                                                                                                                         June 13, 1946
DEAR FRIEND,
I wrote to you a long letter yesterday[1], partly in fulfillment of my promise to send you a copy of the Rev. Nichols-Roy’s address[2] and, if I could trace it, Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah’s address. I have not been able yet to lay hands on the reference I told you I had heard read to me[3]. But I got the Muslim League Council’s resolution[4] which speaks volumes, at any rate, for me. Both these things, without my letter, I handed to Sudhir Ghosh to be given to you.

The letter I withheld at the instance of Agatha Harrison, Horace Alexander and Sudhir Ghosh who thought that it was likely to produce an effect contrary to what I had expected. I did not share their view because we have known each other for so many years. I lay no stress upon the fact that we have known each other for such a long time for we have had no contact for years after our meeting during the stirring days of the Suffragette Movement.  The bond that was then created could not, I felt, be easily snapped and so I presumed to write frankly to lay bare my mind to you. That I felt was due to you if I was to be a friendly adviser to the Mission which you are leading.

Nevertheless I yielded to the advice of the three friends. I have told them that they are at liberty to describe to you the whole of the conversation between them and me.
                                                                                                                                                                       Yours sincerely,
                                                                                                                                                                        M. K. GANDHI
[1] Vide “Letter to Lord Pethick-Lawrence” 12-6-1946.
[2] Against grouping of Assam with Bengal in Group C under the Cabinet Mission’s Statement of May 16, 1946
[3] Presumably the reference is to M. A. Jinnah’s statement, viz., that he would use his position in the Interim Government to “water the seeds of Pakistan”. Gandhiji had referred to it in his talk with the addressee vide Appendix “Interview with Lord Pethick-Lawrence”, 12-6-1946
[4 ]Vide Appendix “Resolution of Muslim League Council”, 6-6-1946.


217. SPEECH AT CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE MEETING
                                                                                                                                                                       NEW DELHI,
                                                                                                                                                                        June 19, 1946
Bapu gave a final notice to the Working Committee today that if they agreed to the non-inclusion of a nationalist Muslim and the inclusion of the name of N. P. Engineer, which the Viceroy had foisted upon them, he would have nothing to do with the whole business and leave Delhi.
 
 

218. SPEECH AT PRAYER MEETING (excerpt)
                                                                                                                                                                       NEW DELHI,
                                                                                                                                                                       June 19, 1946

...Gandhiji remarked that it was wholly untrue that the delay in arriving at a final decision was due to divisions in the Working Committee. Differences of opinion were inevitable in a living organization. He himself did not know what the final decision of the Working Committee was going to be. It was but natural that there should be more Hindus on the Congress register than Muslims, as the Hindu population preponderated in India. But the Congress could not by any stretch of imagination be called a Hindu organization. Its President Maulana Azad had occupied the Presidential chair for a longer period than any other in the Congress history. He was held in equal respect by all those who claim to be of the Congress. The Congress had constituted itself into a trustee, not of any particular community, but of India as a whole. In an organization like that it always became the duty of the majority to make sacrifices for the minorities and backward sections, not in a spirit of patronizing favour, but in a dignified manner and as a duty.

In the eyes of the Congress, Hindus and Mussalmans, Parsis, Christians and Sikhs are all Indians and therefore equally entitled to its care. The Congress has no sanction except that of non-violence. Unlike the Viceroy, who has the entire armed force of the British Empire at his back, the Congress President can rely only on the united and whole-hearted co-operation of all the communities and classes to give effect to India’s will to independence. The Working Committee is, therefore, anxious that we should accept responsibility at the Centre only with the unanimous goodwill of all the communities. That is why they were giving such anxious thought to all the various interests which they claim to represent. They have to adjust conflicting claims and interests and that is a ticklish job. They do not want to make the Interim Government an arena of unseemly quarrels among themselves or with members of the Muslim League.


226. SPEECH AT CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE MEETING
                                                                                                                                                                       NEW DELHI,
                                                                                                                                                                       June 21, 1946
Bapu’s draft  was again discussed in the Working Committee. Bapu warned the members that they would not gain anything by entering on their new venture on bended knees. He reiterated his opinion that if the Cabinet Mission did not accept their conditions, it would be better to let the Muslim League form a nationalist Government at the Centre during the interim period.

 

229. SPEECH AT PRAYER MEETING (excerpt)
                                                                                                                                                                        NEW DELHI,
                                                                                                                                                                        June 21, 1946

...The Working Committee is anxious to come to a decision on the formation of the Interim Cabinet as soon as possible after thoroughly considering all the pros and cons. If the Congress were to help the Viceroy form the proposed Government which is suicidal to its interests what would be the worth of its 60 years’ standing? Short of committing suicide the Congress is offering every possible cooperation in the formation of the Interim Government...

 

234. SPEECH AT CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE MEETING
                                                                                                                                                                           NEW DELHI,
                                                                                                                                                                           June 23, 1946
In the Working Committee meeting in the afternoon Bapu put forth his emphatic view that the Congress should keep out of the Interim Government but go into the Constituent Assembly as it was purely an elective body whose representative character was admitted even by the British Government. The Viceroy could not interfere with its working—he could not even sit in it as a matter of right. If the worst came to the worst, it could be turned into a rebel body. . . . In the alternative, he saw no possibility of giving a fight, as the requisite atmosphere of non-violence was not forth-coming. Personally, he could not even think of launching civil disobedience, etc.

While he was proceeding in this strain, Rajendra Babu read out a telegram which he had received from Assam[1].
. . . On reading the text Bapu exclaimed: Even the Constituent Assembly plan now stinks. I am afraid we
cannot touch it.
 
[1]Drawing attention to the form which the Viceroy’s Reform Office had issued to the Speakers of the various Provincial Assemblies for the election of members to the Constituent Assembly. Among other things it required the candidates to declare that they would be “willing to serve as representatives of the Provinces for purposes of paragraph 19 of the statement” of 16th May of the Cabinet Mission. A similar message was received from Bombay. Vide also the following item.

 

235. SPEECH AT PRAYER MEETING 
                                                                                                                                                                           NEW DELHI,
                                                                                                                                                                           June 23, 1946
In his remarks after the prayers, Gandhiji told the gathering that they would all be happy to learn that Pandit Jawaharlal—thanks to the assistance of the Government—had returned from Kashmir last night and that the reports about his having received bayonet wounds and so on were unfounded.

He was also happy to inform them that 16 passive resisters in South Africa had been arrested by the South African Government. A satyagrahi breaks laws repugnant to his self-respect and invites the penalty, which he faces cheerfully. Prison-going is not a matter of sorrow to him but of joy. A satyagrahi does not expect preferential treatment in prison, but he does expect humane treatment. At the same time he must be prepared to face the worst. He hoped that the passive resisters in South Africa would prove themselves to be ideal satyagrahis in every respect.

Referring to his previous statements about the State Paper of May 16, that it was the best document that the Cabinet Mission could produce under the circumstances, if it bore the interpretation he gave it, he said that he adhered to that view so far as that Paper was concerned.

But as an old maxim says, the corruption of the best is the worst. A single drop of poison can convert a pot of nectar into a fatal draught. He had commended the State document because of its voluntary character. But he had only an hour ago made a discovery which had come to him and the members of the Working Committee as a rude shock. A telegram from Assam had drawn attention to the fact that under Rules of Procedure for the election of members to the Constituent Assembly that had been issued from the Viceroy’s office to the Speakers of the various Provincial Assemblies, no one could stand as a candidate unless he signed a declaration that he would abide by clause 19 of the State Paper of May 16. As they all knew, clause 19 referred, among other things, to grouping.

It was true that there was no legal sanction behind the document and therefore if anyone signed that declaration and afterwards did not abide by it he did not incur the penalty of law. Nevertheless, the undertaking would be morally binding and its breach would amount to bad faith, and those who were prepared to sacrifice honesty would make sorry architects of India’s future. It grieved him to see that the Constituent Assembly was being killed by the underlings of the very people who had given it birth. He exculpated the authors of the State Paper unless he found that they had known that such instructions were issued.

No one, not even the framers, had any right to interpret the State Paper in their own way, said Gandhiji. It could only be interpreted by a properly constituted court of law. The document had to be interpreted and applied as a whole. He still clung to the hope that it was only an error, and would soon be rectified. Then and then alone would it be possible to decide whether the Constituent Assembly was worthy of the name. If they participated in it, it would be for the sake of gaining India’s independence. If they decided against it, it would still be in the same cause.

 

237. INTERVIEW WITH CABINET DELEGATION
7 a.m., June 24, 1946
. . . Gandhiji was observing his silence. . . . I read out what he wrote. . . Cripps explained briefly what he had told me the previous day; on the first piece of paper Gandhiji said: I understood from Sudhir something quite different. I understood that you proposed to scrap the whole plan of Interim Government as it has gone on up to now and consider the situation de novo.

. . . I had to intervene to explain that Sir Stafford was not really saying anything different. Sir Stafford himself explained at some length that what they meant was that if the Congress accepted the long term plan of Constitution-making, even if it was unable to accept the short term plan of an interim coalition Government, then what would remain was the acceptance by both the Congress and the Muslim League, of the Constitution-making plan and, in terms of the commitment made by them, a Government representative of both would be got together—at a suitable date; if the Congress rejected both then Mr. Jinnah could ask them to go ahead with a Government representing those who had accepted the 16th May (Constitution-making) proposal, i. e., only the Muslim League.

. . . Gandhiji wrote down. . . .
Then if you say that you will form a Government out of the acceptances it won’t work, as far as I can see. If you are not in a desperate hurry and if you would discuss the thing with me, I would gladly do so after I have opened my lips, i. e., after 8 p. m.[1]. Meanwhile you should have, if you do not mind, the (Congress) Working Committee[’s] letter of rejection of the proposal contained in the Viceroy’s letter  of 22nd instant. In my opinion that letter puts a new appearance on the Interim Government. The object of the Working Committee so far as I know is to help the Mission, not to hinder it except when its project results in the Working Committee committing suicide. Sudhir’s talk led me to see light through the prevailing darkness. But is there really light? As to the Constituent Assembly, I was quite clear up to yesterday afternoon that the Congress should work the Constituent Assembly to the best of its ability. But the rules I read yesterday have revolutionized my mentality.  There is a serious flaw. I accuse nobody. But a flaw is a flaw. The three parties must not work with three minds and hope for success.

Sir Stafford Cripps explained that it was the Mission’s intention to rectify the “flaw” as Gandhiji called it.

Thereafter Gandhiji wrote:
Then you should not isolate a particular section from the whole. Why not say ‘under the State Paper as a whole’?
Sir Stafford Cripps said that clarification could certainly be made.[2] Gandhiji scribbled his last remark: However, I would gladly discuss this question also with you in the evening. I am sorry to cause you all this trouble. I only hope that you perceive my object in all this effort.

[1] Gandhiji met the members of the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy again at 8 p. m. For an official report of the interview, vide Appendix “Interview with Cabinet Delegation”, 24-6-1946.
 
[2]For the demi-official statement regarding this, vide Appendix “Grouping Clause Controversy”, 25-6-1946.

 

238. TALK WITH VALLABHBHAI PATEL—I
June 24, 1946
After the meeting, . . . on the way the Sardar asked Bapu: “There is a meeting of the Working Committee; what am I to tell them?” Bapu answered that he was not satisfied with the talk with the Cabinet Mission. The Sardar was irritated. “You raised doubts as regards para 19. They have given a clear assurance on that. What more do you want?” Bapu scribbled in reply: During our meeting when Cripps said to me that if we were apprehensive about the wording of the instructions issued by the Reforms Office they could delete the reference to para 19 and substitute in its place the words “for the purpose of the declaration of the 16th May”, Lord Pethick-Lawrence immediately intervened and said: “No, that presents difficulty.”

The Sardar dissented. Bapu asked Sudhir. Sudhir confirmed Bapu’s version but added that his own impression was that they were prepared to concede what Bapu had asked for.



239. DISCUSSION AT CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE MEETING—I
June 24, 1946
The Sardar said that they were under a promise to give their decision to the Cabinet Mission that afternoon. Bapu dissented. In a series of scribbled slips he suggested that they should postpone their decision till he met the Cabinet Delegation in the evening and obtained further clarification from them. Finally he scribbled: There is no question of my feelings being hurt. I am against deciding this issue today but you are free to decide as you like.

 

240. DRAFT LETTER TO LORD WAVELL
June 24, 1946
I have just received the telephone message sent on your behalf asking me to communicate immediately the decision of the Congress Working Committee in regard to the proposals for the Provisional Government. The decision was in fact taken yesterday but we felt that it would be better if we wrote to you fully on all aspects of the proposals made by you and the Cabinet Delegation. The Working Committee have been sitting almost continuously and will be meeting at 2 p. m. again today. After full consideration and deliberation they have been reluctantly obliged to decide against the acceptance of the  Interim Government proposals as framed by you. A detailed and reasoned reply will follow later.

 

241. DISCUSSION AT CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE MEETING—II 
June 24, 1946
Their recommendation will remain in their mouths or on the printed paper. We shall have no authority even to order a constable if there is a row in the Constituent Assembly. This is a dangerous situation. There must be the imprimatur of the Parliament and real power in the Central Government before we can make anything of the Constituent Assembly. The imprimatur of the Parliament would clear the way for the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly (by making the issue adjudicable) in case he wants to refer a point of major importance to the Federal Court for decision.

In the course of the discussion that followed, the Sardar pressed with great vigour his view that the explanation given by the Cabinet Mission in regard to the form issued by the Reforms Office was quite adequate and the Congress could not postpone giving its decision forthwith without damaging its prestige. Bapu scribbled. My mind is in a fog. . . . It centres round the insertion of reference to para 19 . . . and the meaning of “scrapping the whole plan” (of the Interim Government).

I have asked Rajen Babu and Sarat Babu as lawyers whether the candidates, after acting according to the instructions given to Governors, can afterwards disregard them.[1] If the answer is yes then my mouth will be shut although I find a great danger in joining [the Constituent Assembly]. You examine all the instructions. There are other things in it which irk me. Now I think the point will also be raised that the State Paper should bear the imprimatur of the Parliament. Whatever the Cabinet Mission may say or write it will remain in their mouths or on the printed paper. They have opened here a Reform Office. Whatever they do and the interpretation they put will be final. The Government office not being in your hands you cannot have control over it. You should consider all this. You should do nothing in haste. I shall be meeting them today or tomorrow after which I shall be able to enlighten you as I shall be better informed. Today’s interview has not produced a good impression on my mind. Because of my silence I could not myself ask questions. So I do not blame these people. I am in a very delicate position. I see darkness where four days ago I saw light.
 
[1] According to the source “the opinion of Sarat Bose was that reference to para 19 in the instructions did not take away from the members liberty of action since their acceptance of the State Paper was subject to the legal interpretation of the clauses in dispute. Rajendra Babu’s opinion was that para 19 did not make grouping compulsory. It only gave Provinces freedom to form groups as was clear from the language of the document itself.”

 

INTERVIEW WITH CABINET DELEGATION
8 p. m. June 24, 1946
1. Mr. Gandhi raised the matter of the instructions issued by Governors for the elections to the Constituent Assembly. He produced to the Delegation a telegram which he had received from Assam and said that this, read with the instructions as he had first understood them, made him think that members of the Constituent Assembly were being required to accept the Delegation’s interpretation of their Statement of the 16th May because of the words in it which said that a candidate agreed to serve as a member of the Constituent Assembly for the purposes of paragraph 19 of the Statement of 16th May. Mr. Gandhi explained that he had taken legal opinion which did not support his anxieties and said that he had seen the Press Communiqué put out by the Government of India. If he had seen this Communiqué originally he would not have been troubled to the same extent that he had been. In addition to the legal difficulty, however, he felt a moral difficulty about this matter.

The Secretary of State and Sir S. Cripps pointed out that the telegram from Assam was based on a complete misunderstanding of what members of the Constituent Assembly were required to undertake. Mr. Gandhi was shown the form of undertaking required by the Bengal regulations and agreed that it contained no obligation of the kind he feared. The Secretary of State emphasized that by signing the undertaking a member of the Constituent Assembly was not accepting anything in addition to what was in the Statement of 16th May already. The Viceroy said that it was clear that grouping was an essential part of the Delegation’s proposals. Sir S. Cripps pointed out that what was essential was the forming of the constituent Assembly in sections for the purpose of framing the constitution. Mr. Gandhi said that he felt that the regulations should have referred to the Statement of May 16th as a whole and not specifically to paragraph 19 was the only one which referred to the setting up of the Constituent Assembly. There were other parts of the Statement as a whole to which members of the Constituent Assembly could not be expected to give concurrence, for example, the paragraphs rejecting a sovereign Pakistan. Mr. Gandhi said that at the Press Conference Lord Pethick-Lawrence had interpreted the Statement to mean that the Constituent Assembly must meet in sections. He (Mr. Gandhi) had dissented from this view and his interpretation of the document was upheld by eminent lawyers. It was clear that the Delegation were the law-givers and could not interpret their own law. It must be the Federal Court which would interpret the meaning of the Statement.

His trouble was that by signing the declaration required by the electoral rules a member of the Constituent Assembly might be bound morally to accept the Delegation’s interpretation. Sir S. Cripps said that any doubt on the point might be solved by the fact that the person who sent the telegram from Assam was under a misapprehension as to what members of the Constituent Assembly were in fact asked to sign. Mr. Gandhi had agreed that the form of declaration was innocuous morally and his lawyers had agreed with the interpretation of it which Sir Stafford himself had expressed to Mr. Gandhi earlier. The First Lord said that what mattered was what a person signed. Mr. Gandhi agreed that whatever views a man might have about sections or groups he could sign the form of declaration in the Bengal regulations.

2. Mr. Gandhi said he wanted to make his position about the Constituent Assembly clear. His view was that the Europeans had no vote and could not stand as candidates. He would like to ask the Delegation whether they had made any further progress or did they ask Congress to rely on whatever local assistance they could get if the Europeans say that they want to assert their right. Sir S. Cripps and the Viceroy said there was nothing more to be said about the Europeans since the statements issued by the European representatives.

3. Mr. Gandhi said there was one very delicate matter which he would like to raise. Mr. Sudhir Ghosh had reported to him his conversation with Sir S. Cripps on this subject and he felt that he would like to clear his mind. What he wanted to know was whether, if the whole thing was scrapped,  would the undertakings to Mr. Jinnah also be scrapped, or would the whole Statement be scrapped, or what would happen. It would not be a satisfactory thing from his point of view if this were the case. If the Government of India is appointed personally by the Viceroy he will be responsible only to the British Government. It would not be satisfactory to Mr. Gandhi nor did he think it would satisfy the Congress or, for that matter, the Muslim League. He thought the Delegation owed it to the Congress, the Muslim League and the public to tell them what they proposed to do. If the Delegation said that they could tell him nothing he would take that answer, but if they had anything to say to him so that he could advise the Working Committee with full knowledge, he would be obliged.

The Indian people would have to work this Constituent Assembly which had no statutory existence. It would be a difficult thing to do as the Delegation had created the Statement which had no legal existence. There were bound to be differences of opinion as to what it meant. The Congress, the Muslim League and the British Government used the same terms to mean different things. For example, the Congress independence meant independence now. To the Delegation it meant independence when “this Charter is passed”, but it would only become a Charter if the people went for it and the British Government afterwards legalized the Charter.

Suppose that there were a change of Secretary of State or a change of Government and that the intention of the British Government changed. . . . The Secretary of State here interrupted Mr. Gandhi to say that he would like to answer that point at once. It was not the practice of British Government to repudiate definite pledges given by their predecessors to third parties. They were not capable of doing that but if it were assumed that they were then the answer was that no statute would be any protection because a new statute could be passed altering the old one. He thought that this suggestion of a statutory basis for the Constituent Assembly would add nothing to the dignity or security of the Indian people. It would make the Constituent Body a creature of a British statute and if legislation were introduced attempts might be made to alter or amend the Statement. He thought that Mr. Gandhi would have been the first person to object if the Delegation had said that the Constituent Assembly could only be set up by an Act of the British Parliament. Sir S. Cripps said that apart from these considerations the lack of rigidity in basing a Constituent Assembly on the Statement and not on an enactment was very desirable. The origin of a Constituent Assembly should be the popular will and not the act of another State’s Legislature.

This gave the Assembly the right constitutional status. It did not give it legal status. Mr. Gandhi said that the Delegation did contemplate a statute after the Constituent Assembly had met. Sir S. Cripps said this was not for the purpose of enacting the new Constitution but of removing the existing legislation. The First Lord said that there was no question as he understood it of any legislation except to cancel the existing constitution and the British Government had said that they would enact this legislation at the proper time provided two factors were satisfied. First, adequate provision for the protection of minorities as to the necessity of which there was no controversy at all and both major parties had said that they intended to make such provision, and secondly, reasonably formal engagements to be entered into between the United Kingdom and India covering matters arising out of the transfer of power. This would deal with formal matters such as the arrangements in regard to the Services.

4. Sardar Patel said he understood that the Europeans would not put up candidates but he would like to know whether it was contemplated that they should vote. The First Lord said that the Secretary of State had fulfilled his undertaking to do what he could to arrange this matter. No European would now vote for a European to sit in the Constitution-making Body. That was the major point. Sardar Patel said that voting was very important. Sir S. Cripps said that the position on the Statement of 16th May was that members of the Legislatures were entitled to vote and therefore Europeans were entitled to vote. The document clearly did not intend that no one other than Indians should be members of the Constituent Assembly so that that question was on a different footing. Whether the Europeans exercised their vote was legally a matter for them. The First Lord said that the Europeans had gone a very long way from the position which obtained when the Congress complained about this matter. He thought that the original complaint had had justification but 75 per cent of it had been met.

The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VII, pp. 1026-9

 

243. TALK WITH VALLABHBHAI PATEL—II 
June 24, 1946
On returning from there the Sardar again asked Bapu: “Were you satisfied?” Bapu replied: On the contrary my suspicion has deepened. I suggest that hereafter you should guide the Working Committee.
The Sardar replied: “Nothing of the sort. I am not going to say a word. You yourself tell them whatever you want.”

 

244. LETTER TO SIR STAFFORD CRIPPS 
BHANGI COLONY, READING ROAD,
NEW DELHI,
June 24, 1946
DEAR SIR STAFFORD,
My whole heart goes out to you and Lady Cripps. I would far rather not write this note. But I must. In spite of the readiness, as it seems to me, of the Working Committee to go in for the Constituent Assembly I would not be able to advise the leap in the dark. The light that Sudhir enabled me to see through the prevailing darkness seems to have vanished. There is nothing but a vacuum after you throw all the commitments on the scrap heap, if you really do intend to do so. I could not very well press for fuller information at our talk. The instructions to the Governors, innocuous as they have proved to be, have opened up a dreadful vista. I, therefore, propose to advise the Working Committee not to accept the long-term proposition without its being connected with the Interim Government. I must not act against my instinct and shall advise them to be guided solely by their own judgment. I shall simply say that [the] conversation gave me no light to dispel the darkness surrounding me. I shall say I had nothing tangible to prove that there were danger signals.
 
I am sorry to send you this letter. But I just thought it was my duty to put before you my feeling before sharing it with the Working Committee which meets at Maulana Saheb’s house tomorrow at 6.30 a. m.
Yours sincerely,
M. K. GANDHI



The Hindustan Times, 25-6-1946
  GROUPING CLAUSE CONTROVERSY

It has been reported in the Press that the text of a Bengal Government communiqué requires every delegate to the Constituent Assembly to sign a declaration accepting Clause 19 of the Cabinet Delegation’s Statement of May 16. This allegation is without any foundation. The A. P. I. has been authorized to state that according to the instructions actually issued a candidate for election to the Constituent Assembly from any province is required to declare that he has not been proposed for candidature to represent any other province and that he is willing to serve as a representative of the province for the purpose of paragraph 19 of the Cabinet Delegation’s Statement.

The plain purpose of paragraph 19 is the framing of a new Constitution for India and this has been made further clear in the actual form of a declaration prescribed for the purpose by the Governor of Bengal which is as follows :
“I hereby agree to this nomination and declare that I am willing to serve in the Constituent Assembly as a representative of the General or Muslim part of the Bengal Legislative Assembly for the purpose of framing a new Constitution for India. I further declare that I have not been proposed as a representative of any part of the Legislative Assembly of any other province in India in the said Constituent Assembly.”

The other reference to paragraph 19 of the Statement in the instructions issued by the Bengal Governor is with regard to reporting the result of the election. This reads as follows : “The returning officer shall report the result of the election to the Governor who shall cause the names of the candidates declared elected, to be published in the Calcutta Gazette on July 15, 1946 or as soon as may be thereafter; and the persons whose names are so published shall be representative of Bengal for the purposes of paragraph 19 of the above-mentioned Statement.”
The Hindustan Times, 25-6-1946

 

249. SPEECH AT PRAYER MEETING
NEW DELHI,
June 25, 1946
Gandhiji drew attention to the demi-official statement  that had appeared in the Press that the instructions issued for the election of candidates for the Constituent Assembly did not bind them to anything in clause 19 of the Statement. This was clear in the declaration quoted in the papers. He was sorry, said Gandhiji, that he had not seen it before he made his Sunday’s speech.  He was glad to say that his fears on that score had proved groundless. He felt he owed it to the Delegation to own his mistake, however bona fide it was.

He referred to the report of the deliberations of the Working Committee that had appeared in the newspapers. It was true that the Working Committee had decided to reject the proposals put before them for the formation of a provisional government for the interim period. But they had decided to go into the proposed Constituent Assembly. There were several flaws in the proposal for the Constituent Assembly, he said, but the Working Committee had reasoned that after all, it would consist of the elected representatives of the people. So, after considering every aspect of the question, they had decided that it should not be rejected.

The papers had also reported, proceeded Gandhiji, that the Working Committee’s decision had been taken in the teeth of his opposition. That was a misleading statement to make. The fact was that for the last four or five days his mind had been filled with a vague misgiving. He saw darkness where he had seen light before. He knew that darkness indicated lack of faith in God. One whose being is filled with God, should never experience darkness.

Be that as it may, said Gandhiji, the fact remained that he did not see the light just then. What was more, he could not explain or give reasons for his fear. He had, therefore, simply placed his misgiving before the Working Committee and told them that they should come to a decision independently of him. Those whose function was to give a lead to the country could not afford to be guided by another’s unreasoned instinct. They could not guide the destiny of the country unless they had the capacity to think for themselves and convince others by reason. The members of the Working Committee, he concluded, were the servants of the nation. They had no other sanction except the willing consent of the people whom they tried to serve. The latter would remove them whenever they liked. His advice to the people, therefore, was to follow the lead given by the Working Committee. He would tell them when he saw the light. But so long as darkness surrounded him in anything, nobody should follow him in it.
Harijan, 30-6-1946

 

246. SPEECH AT CONGRESS WORKING COMMITTEE MEETING
NEW DELHI,
June 25, 1946
I admit defeat. You are not bound to act upon my unsupported suspicion. You should follow my intuition only if it appeals to your reason. Otherwise you should take an independent course. I shall now leave with your permission. You should follow the dictates of your reason.[1]

[1] According to the source a hush fell over the gathering. Nobody spoke for some time. Abul Kalam Azad then asked, “What do you desire? Is there any need to detain Bapu any further?” Gandhiji returned to his residence. The Working Committee met again at noon and addressed a letter to the Cabinet Mission, rejecting the proposal for the formation of the Interim Government at the Centre and accepting the long-term plan with its own interpretation of the disputed clauses. On request from its members Gandhiji attended the afternoon session of the Working Committee. At noon the Cabinet Delegation invited the members of the Working Committee to meet them.
 


270. TALK WITH NORMAN CLIFF 
June, 29, 1946

The mission, I have said and I repeat, have done their best. But the best falls far short of India’s needs or India’s best. Take the food problem. I claim to know more than anyone about it for I have sunk myself in the masses. But the English do not understand what they should do if the masses that are sinking may live. India is being robbed of millions of pounds by Britain. An economist has only today written that the Congress ministries want to do things for village India but cannot. India should never remain naked for want of cloth. She grows enough cotton for her requirements. But it is a money crop and therefore exported. And the same in other things too. All is taken from the villages for rich city people and Britain.

CLIFF: For this very reason, do you not see independence in taking over power at the Centre in the Interim Government?
GANDHIJI: It looks nice and sweet put like that. But where is the power in the Interim Government as proposed? The dice were so heavily loaded against the Congress that it was impossible for them to come in. If I could form a live Central Government and thereby serve the masses I would seize the opportunity. A pure Muslim League Government would have been better than the so-called coalition they tried to form. I do not know what happened. But things seemed to go from bad to worse. Was it that secret force of the I. C. S. as before working in order to torpedo everything? The Simla Conference broke down last year. The Viceroy admitted that the Congress acted on the square. He took the blame on himself then. All the minorities were in tune with the Congress. If the League were not willing to shoulder the burden I advised giving it to the Congress. I consider it was sound advice but it was not accepted and hence the mess that we now are in.

You should know that the League is today what the Congress was at one time. All their leaders are titled men. It has not yet been through the pain and travail that the Congress has been through before it could call itself the people’s representative.

But even I am still working to make things a success. I cannot today support my instinct with reason. I own my defeat. And yet I must tell the truth. I may not hide my innermost feeling, if I am to be a friend and adviser to either or both sides.
CLIFF: Don’t you feel it is natural that the members of the Mission might find your attitude a little difficult to understand?
GANDHIJI: I have accepted my defeat before them too. I said to them,“I struggle to lay bare my whole soul before you.” I am still advising. But I am filled with misgivings. I have to walk with the utmost caution. For failure now will be a great human tragedy.
CLIFF: Success or failure of the Constituent Assembly will surely depend on the spirit of those who go into it. Will it not?
GANDHIJI: Yes. But it may be that one or [the] other party or none goes into it. I would have you remember that a Mussalman does not become a non-Indian by changing his religion. It is [a] most fantastic claim. My son became a Muslim for a little time for purely sordid reasons. Did he lose his nationality? I am perhaps a better Mussalman than many a Hindu convert to Islam. This whole idea is wrong au fond. The British, imagining that they can bring the League and [the] Congress together, are attempting the impossible.
CLIFF: I am surprised that you with your boundless faith in human nature believe that the above is an impossibility. All things are possible with God.
GANDHIJI: If you think deeply enough, you will see that I am quite consistent. My faith in human nature is quite consistent with my holding that men with diametrically opposite views cannot coalesce. I have called Pakistan a sin. Can I cooperate to make sin a success? God cannot belie Himself. Truth cannot work for untruth. That all things are possible with God cannot be used to make God break His law. I have said and I think rightly that the connotation of Independence of India as meant by the British, the Muslim League and Congress is different. The Muslim League independence means splitting India first and independence after. The Congress stands for immediate unconditional independence for the whole of India. If the Constituent Assembly is to be worthy of its name, it must be a sovereign body with the right thing as well as the wrong. It may not be hedged in with conditions.
CLIFF: But you do recognize and respect the British concern for minorities?
GANDHI: I do not admit its claim to do so. It is an unconscious relic, if you like, of Imperialism. You had independence even when you heaped disabilities on Roman Catholics. Which outsider dared to interfere with your independence? What right have the English rulers who have deliberately sown the seeds of discord and brought about these interminable dissensions into our structure now to concern themselves with our difference so called? Not until and unless you discard this ‘white man’s burden’ notion will you be able truly to assist India.
CLIFF: It is very difficult for us everywhere, e. g., in Egypt.
GANDHIJI: You will find greater and greater difficulty as time goes on. The British Labour Party has my full sympathy. Of course, if the mind of the English people in general has been changed as Laski  and others tell us and Britain will be content to be dubbed ‘little England’ and get off the backs of others, it may be different. Otherwise the Labour Party will throw itself into the arms of Churchill for whose courage and resourcefulness I have the utmost admiration. I do not want Britain to leave India because of her helplessness. I flatter myself that we have come thus far through even our limited non-violence. I do not look with equanimity to India coming into her own by brute force. If Britain would play her part nobly, the growing hatred may give place to friendship.
CLIFF: Can there be a future step in London?
GANDHIJI: Of course. My only fear is that the imperialistic character of the Labour Government will prevent them from doing right at any cost. They want to please all parties. This is an impossible task. They have to dare to do the right even though they displease some. This cannot be done in the imperialistic way.
CLIFF: Surely then there is all the more reason for settling things in India for our own no less than for your sakes?
GANDHIJI: You are right. How to do it in the right way is the question. My fear is that may fail in spite of themselves.
CLIFF: Cannot a via media be found?
GANDHIJI: They are struggling. I am struggling. My helping hand is still there in spite of misreading by them of the situation here. But I confess I am just now at sea and darkness surrounds me.
CLIFF: Your misgivings are not due to a fundamental distrust of Britain doing the right thing?
GANDHIJI: No. But I have a fundamental distrust of their doing it at any cost. I said that the statement they issued  was the best they were capable of but it was not intrinsically the best. Then at the outset it bore three interpretations. The Congress put one, the League another and the authors a third one. That makes it a dangerous document.
CLIFF: But why not interpret it only as they do? They are the best judges of what they meant.
GANDHIJI: The law rightly does not accept the intention of the framer of a law outside what the text bears.
CLIFF: Could not the document be reworded in order to make the intention clear?
GANDHIJI: That is impossible. It would mean perpetual changing and chopping.
CLIFF: Would you submit to legal interpretation?
GANDHIJI: Yes, of course.
CLIFF: Would not interpretation in spirit be better than in letter?
GANDHIJI: All these are questions for the court to decide.
CLIFF: Am I right in thinking that the immediate problem is still the Interim Government and that the main obstacle there is the rejection of Congress’ right to nominate a Nationalist Muslim?
GANDHIJI: Yes. But the question of a Nationalist Muslim is a side issue now that a far more general right has been conceded to the Quaid-e-Azam.
CLIFF: Would the issue not be shelved if the Congress’ right to nominate anyone were conceded but they were asked not to exercise that right?
GANDHIJI: A right is negatived if it cannot be exercised at the crucial moment. The Congress is reduced to a caste Hindu body according to Jinnah’s wholly wrong appraisement of it. Such an admission belies all its past history.
CLIFF: Isn’t self-denial one of your fundamental beliefs?
GANDHIJI: (Roaring with laughter) Satan also quotes the scripture!!! All I want is that what I have said should go deep enough into your soul so that you may be able correctly to interpret me.



308. SPEECH AT A. I. C. C.
BOMBAY,
July 7, 1946
I have often said that man plans but the success of his plans depends not on him but on the will of Providence which is the supreme arbiter of our destinies. Unlike you, I am [here] not in my own right but on sufferance. I have been told that some of my previous remarks about the Cabinet Mission’s proposals have caused a good deal of confusion in the public mind. As a satyagrahi it is always my endeavour to speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I never wish to hide anything from you. I hate mental reservations. But language is at best an imperfect medium of ex-pression. No man can fully express in words what he feels or thinks. Even seers and prophets of old have suffered under that disability.

I have not seen what has appeared in the papers about what I am supposed to have said regarding the Cabinet Mission’s proposals. I cannot read all the newspapers myself. I content myself with perusing only what my co-workers and assistants may place before me. I hold that I have lost nothing thereby. Because of what has appeared in the Press, an impression seems to have been created that I said one thing at Delhi and am saying something different now.

I did say in one of my speeches at Delhi in regard to the Cabinet Mission’s proposals that I saw darkness where I saw light before.  That darkness has not yet lifted. If possible it has deepened. I could have asked the Working Committee to turn down the proposals about the Constituent Assembly if I could see my way clearly. You know my relations with the members of the Working Committee. Babu Rajendra Prasad might have been a High Court Judge, but he chose instead to act as my interpreter and clerk in Champaran.  Then there is the Sardar. He has earned the nickname of being my yes-man. He does not mind it. He even flaunts it as a compliment. He is a stormy petrel. Once he used to dress   and dine  in the Western style. But ever since he decided to cast his lot with me my word has been law to him. But even he cannot see eye to eye with me in this matter. They both tell me that whereas on all previous occasions I was able to support my instinct with reason and satisfy their head as well as heart, this time I have failed to do so. I told them in reply that whilst my own heart was filled with misgivings, I could not adduce any reason for it or else I would have asked them to reject the proposals straightway. It was my duty to place my misgivings before them to put them on their guard. But they should examine what I had said in the cold light of reason and accept my view-point only if they were convinced of its correctness. Their decision, which they have arrived at after prolonged deliberations and which is almost unanimous, is before you. The members of the Working Committee are your faithful and tried servants. You should not lightly reject their resolution.

I am willing to admit that the proposed Constituent Assembly is not the Parliament of the people. It has many defects. But you are all seasoned and veteran fighters. A soldier is never afraid of danger. He revels in it. If there are shortcomings in the proposed Constituent Assembly, it is for you to get them removed. It should be a challenge to combat, not a ground for rejection. I am surprised that Shri Jayaprakash Narayan said yesterday that it would be dangerous to participate in the proposed Constituent Assembly and therefore they should reject the Working Committee’s resolution. I was not prepared to hear such defeatist language from the lips of a tried fighter like Jayaprakash. One line from a song composed by the late Choudhary Rambhaj Dutt has always made a very deep appeal to me. It means: “We will never be defeated—nay, not even in death.” That is the spirit in which I expect you to approach this resolution. A satyagrahi knows no defeat.

Nor would I expect a satyagrahi to say that whatever Englishmen do must be bad. The English are not necessarily bad. There are good men and bad men among the English people as among any other people. We ourselves are not free from defects. The English could not have risen to their present strength if they had not some good in them. They have come and exploited India, because we quarreled amongst ourselves and allowed ourselves to be exploited. In God’s world unmixed evil never prospers. God rules even where Satan seems to hold sway, because the latter exists only on His sufferance.

Some people say that satyagraha is of no avail against a person who has no moral sense. I join issue with that. The stoniest heart must melt if we are true and have enough patience. A satyagrahi lays down his life, but never gives up. That is the meaning of the “Do or die” slogan. That slogan does not mean ‘Kill or be killed’. That would be willful distortion and travesty of its true meaning. The true meaning is that we must do our duty and die in the course of perfor-ming it if necessary. To die without killing is the badge of a satyagrahi. If we had lived up to that ideal we would have won swaraj by now. But our ahimsa was lame. It walked on crutches. Even so it has brought us to our present strength. I know what happened in 1942. You will perhaps say that it was sabotage and underground activity that had brought the country to its present strength. It cannot be denied that sabotage activity was carried on in the name of the Congress during the ’42 struggle but I deny in toto that the strength of the masses is due to that. Whatever strength the masses have is due entirely to ahimsa however imperfect or defective its practice might have been. Our ahimsa was imperfect because we were imperfect, because it was presented to you by an imperfect being like myself. If then, even in the hands of imperfect instruments it could produce such brilliant results, what could it not have achieved in the hands of a perfect satyagrahi?

In 1942 our people showed great valour. But greater valour will be required of us before our goal is reached. We have done much, but more remains to be done. For that we must have patience and humility and detachment. You should try to understand what happened in 1942, the inner meaning of that struggle and the reason why it stopped short where it did. This is no time for dalliance or ease. I told Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that he must wear the crown of thorns for the sake of the nation and he has agreed.  The Constituent Assembly is going to be no bed of roses for you but only a bed of thorns. You may not shirk it. That does not mean that everybody should want to go into it. Only those should go there who are especially fitted for the task by virtue of their legal training or special talent. It is not a prize to be sought as a reward for sacrifices, but a duty to be faced even like mounting the gallows or sacrifice of one’s all at the altar of service.

There is another reason why you should join the Constituent Assembly. If you asked me whether in the event of your rejecting the proposed Constituent Assembly or the Constituent Assembly failing to materialize, I would advise the people to launch civil disobedience, individual or mass, or undertake a fast myself, my reply is ‘No’. I believe in walking alone. I came alone in this world, I have walked alone in the valley of the shadow of death and I shall quit alone when the time comes.

I know I am quite capable of launching satyagraha even if I am all alone. I have done so before. But this is no occasion for a fast or civil disobedience. I regard the Constituent Assembly as the substitute of satyagraha. It is constructive satyagraha. The alternative is constructive work which you have never done justice to. If you had, you would have today got the Constituent Assem-bly of Jayaprakash’s dream instead of the present one. But a satyagrahi cannot wait or delay action till perfect conditions are forthcoming. He will act with whatever material is at hand, purge it of dross and convert it into pure gold. Whatever may be the defects in the State Document of May 16th, I have no doubt as to the honesty of those who have framed it. They know they have got to quit. They want to quit in an orderly manner. And to that end they have produced the Document they could under the circumstances. I refuse to believe that they came all the way from England to deceive us.

A polish lady  has sent me a note just today saying that all Europeans had received secret instructions to leave India as the British army would no longer be able to give them adequate protection. If it is so, it is a sad reflection on us. We would be unworthy of the name of satyagrahi if even an English child did not feel secure in our midst.

Even if we succeed in driving out the Europeans by these tactics, something worse will take their place. Our Quit India Resolution  has no malice about it. It only means that we will no longer be exploited.

Let us not be cowardly, but approach out task with confidence and courage. Let not the fear of being deceived dismay us. No one can deceive a satyagrahi. Never mind the darkness that fills my mind He will turn it into light.


314. THE REAL DANGER
As during the two days of the session of the A. I. C. C. in Bombay I listened to some of the spirited speeches against the Working Committee’s resolution submitted the A. I. C. C. for ratification, I could not subscribe to the dangers portrayed by the opposition. No confirmed satyagrahi is dismayed by the dangers, seen or unseen, from his opponent’s side. What he must fear, as every army  must, is the danger from within.

Opposition, however eloquent it may be, will defeat its purpose if it is not well informed, balanced and well based and does not promise action and result more attractive than what is opposed. Let the opposition at the late meeting answer. First in importance is laziness of mind and body. This comes out of the smug satisfaction that Congressmen having suffered imprisonment have nothing more to do to win freedom and that a grateful organization should reward their service by giving them first preference in the matter of elections and offices. And so, there is an unseemly and vulgar competition for gaining what are described as prize posts. Here there is a double fallacy. Nothing should be considered a prize in the Congress dictionary and imprisonment is its own reward. It is the preliminary examination of a satyagrahi. Its goal is the slaughter-house even as that of the spotless lamb. Jail-going is, instead, being used as a passport to every office accessible to the Congress. Hence there is every prospect of a satyagrahi’s imprisonment becoming a degrading occupation like that of professional thieves and robbers. No wonder my friends of the underground variety avoid imprisonment as being comparatively a bed of roses. This is a pointer to the pass the Congress is coming to.

The friends who opposed the resolution on the British Cabinet Delegation’s proposals do not seem to know what they are aiming at. Is independence to be bought at the price of a bloody revolution as was, say, the French, the Soviet or even the English? Then frank and honest work has yet to begin. They have to tread a very dangerous path in openly making the Congress such an institution. My argument has no force if subterranean activity is a doctrine of univer-sal application and is now being employed against the Congress. The very thought repels me. I should hope for the sake of my own sanity that the thought is devoid of any foundation. Then it is clearly their duty to say to the Congressmen that now that there is Congress Raj or Representative Raj, whether of the Congress variety or the Muslim League, they must set about reforming it in detail and not condemn it in toto. Total non-violent non-co-operation has no place in popular Raj, whatever its level may be.

Who is responsible for the mad orgy in Madura and, coming nearer, in Ahmedabad? It will be folly to attribute everything evil to British machinations.This senseless theory will perpetuate foreign domination, not necessarily British. The British will go in any case. They want to go in an orderly manner as is evident to me from the State Paper or they will go and leave India to her own fate assuming that India has forsaken the path of non-violence with the certain result of a combined intervention of an assortment of armed powers. Let the opposition say to the Congressmen what kind of independence they want. Congressmen in general certainly do not know the kind of independence they want. They recite the formula almost parrot-like. Or, their notion of independence is fully expressed in saying that they mean by it Congress Raj. And they won’t be wrong. They have left further thinking to the Working Committee—a most undemocratic way. In true democracy every man and woman is taught to think for himself or herself. How this real revolution can be brought about I do not know except that every reform like charity must begin at home.

If then the Constituent Assembly fizzles out, it will not be because the British are wicked every time. It will be because we are fools or, shall I say, even wicked? Whether we are fools or wicked or both, I am quite clear that we must look for danger from within, not fear the danger from without. The first corrodes the soul, the second polishes.
BOMBAY, July 9, 1946
Harijan, 14-7-1946

Home

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, Jaswant Singh

1830s-1898: British Forward Policy(1)


1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)

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