Record of Interview between Cabinet Delegation[Viceroy Wavell was also present] and Mr. Jinnah on Tuesday, 16 April 1946 at 11 am.
The Secretary of State said that the Delegation had now heard all points of view, that they recognized the importance of the case which Mr. Jinnah had put to them and of the claims of his community.
They felt it was essential to reach an agreement between the parties. If this could be done on the main issue, other matters would fall in place. If there was no agreement, the prospects for the people of India, for Great Britain and for the world would be gravely affected. A breakdown of the administration in India might result. In particular there would be a breakdown of the food administration.
Therefore the Delegation were anxious that the gap between Congress and the Muslim League should be closed by both parties moving towards each other, and they were approaching Mr. Jinnah on the one hand and the Congress on the other to that end. He felt sure that Mr. Jinnah would help provided it was clear that we were not asking for all the concessions to be made from his side.
After considering with the greatest care the case which Mr. Jinnah had put forward, the Delegation had come to the conclusion that the full and complete demand for Pakistan in the form in which Mr. Jinnah had put it forward had little chance of acceptance and they thought that Mr. Jinnah could not reasonably hope to receive both the whole of the territory, much of it inhabited by non-Muslims, which he claimed and the full measure of sovereignty which he said was essential. If the full territories were insisted upon then some element of sovereignty must be relinquished if there were to be a reasonable prospect of agreement. If, on the other hand, full sovereignty is desired, then the claims to the [non-]Muslim territories could not be conceded.
The Delegation believed that the progress might be possible in one of two ways. First, agreement might perhaps be reached on a separate State of Pakistan consisting of, say, Sind, North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, the Muslim-majority provinces of the Punjab, except perhaps Gurdaspur, [Eastern Bengal?] and the Sylhet district of Assam. Whether there would be any chance of Calcutta being a free port seemed doubtful. Its inclusion in Pakistan could not be justified on any principle of self-determination. It seemed to the Delegation that Pakistan on this basis would clearly need to contract a defensive alliance with Hindustan and enter into special Treaty relations with it. Under this scheme the Indian States would be at liberty to join Hindustan or Pakistan or to remain outside.
No doubt there would be points in this scheme which would not appeal to Mr. Jinnah but the Delegation did not think that they, for their part, could press Congress to go further than this to meet Mr. Jinnah's point of view.
The Secretary of State here emphasized that this proposal was not a scheme which the Cabinet Delegation put forward as one which they considered the best or even as desirable, but as a possible hopeful line on which agreement might be achieved.
The second and alternative suggestion was that the Congress and the Muslim League should sit down together to try to evolve an agreed scheme for an Indian Union. Opinions would no doubt differ about the details of such a plan which must be matters for negotiation. If, however, the League accepted the principle of a Union Centre for the essential subjects, say, defence, foreign affairs and communications, it might then be possible to include in one Federation the whole of the Provinces of Sind, Baluchistan, North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab and Bengal, plus perhaps the Sylhet district of Assam. In such a Union the two parts might have equal representation. Whether the States would come into the Union as a separate Federation would be a matter for negotiation. There might be provision that any party to it could secede after a certain period, say 15 years. A set-up of this kind would secure a very strong Muslim Federation and it was possible that it might be acceptable to the Congress.
Mr. Jinnah asked how Pakistan came in under the proposed all-India Union. The Secretary of State said that briefly there were two propositions - a small Pakistan with sovereign rights and a Treaty relation, and a larger Pakistan including broadly the present Provinces except Assam and subject perhaps to some frontier adjustment. The latter would come together with Hindustan on terms of equality within an all-India Union for the essential purposes of defence and foreign affairs.
Sir. S. Cripps said that under the second alternative two Federations would be created linked by a Union Centre. The States would come in either at the Union or at the Federation level and there would be equal representation of Hindustan and Pakistan at the Union level. The communal balance would be retained at the Centre by some means even if the States came in there.
Mr. Jinnah asked how the Union Executive would be formed. Sir S. Cripps said that the Federations would choose the members of the Union Executive. Mr. Jinnah asked how, if there were equal representation, decisions were to be reached and Sir S. Cripps said that there would be no Union Parliament. The responsibility would go back to the two Federations if agreement could not be reached and differences could only be decided by inter-Governmental agreement. Mr. Jinnah expressed doubts as to whether this arrangement would work in practice. Matters would have to be decided every day in regard to defence. From what had been said he had not been able to get anything which would enable him to say that the Union idea was worth considering.
The Secretary of State emphasized that the essence of the Union was the equality of the two component parts which made it entirely different from a Centre in which the Hindus had a majority. In so far as the Muslim League's claim as to territory of Pakistan would be conceded the Muslims would have control by majority of large areas in all except the essential Union subjects and there they would meet the Hindus on a level where it was the States which counted and not the number of individuals in them.
Of course the Secretary of State did not know whether the Congress would agree to this principle of equality but it was the essence of the proposal. Mr. Jinnah said that no amount of equality provided on paper was going to work. Equality could not exist between the majority and minority within the same Governmental system. Would there, for example, be equality of each community in the Services? A Treaty of mutual defence between our separate States was quite different. It operated in certain contingencies such as external attack, but at other times and in other matter the States were separate. He did not think that the domination of the Muslims by the Hindus could be prevented in any scheme in which they were kept together. It is only when the Muslims are the majority in Pakistan and the Hindus in Hindustan that you have sufficient united force running through the State from the top to the bottom to provide a "steel frame" which can hold it together.
The Secretary of State said that Mr. Jinnah seemed to be turning to the other alternative and asked Mr. Jinnah's views on that. Mr. Jinnah said that once the principle of Pakistan was conceded the question of territory of Pakistan could be discussed. His claim was for the six Provinces but he was willing to discuss the area. The first question was whether the principle was accepted. He claimed that the six Provinces was a reasonable demand but he could not possibly accept that Calcutta should go out merely for the sake of 5 or 6 lakhs of Hindus(largely Depressed Classes who would prefer Pakistan) most of whom were imported labour. What was the reason why Calcutta could not be given to Pakistan? The Secretary of State said that what the Delegation were doing was seeking for a basis of agreement. They did not think that the agreement could be reached on the basis that Calcutta was included in Pakistan. Mr. Jinnah said he could not in any event accept the exclusion of Calcutta.
The Secretary of State said he wished to emphasize that the Delegation did not consider that either of these two alternatives would be readily acceptable to the Congress. Both of them were some way beyond what the Congress would like. Mr. Jinnah said that the Congress were in a very strong position. Even if the whole of Mr. Jinnah's claims were granted, they got three-quarters of India. At the worst they would lose Calcutta, some part of Western Bengal(Burdwan) and the Ambala Division.
The Secretary of State said the Congress would lose much more than this. They would lose the unity of India which alone would make India a strong entity in the outside world. Further, if Pakistan were conceded the difficulty of getting the States into a united India would be greatly increased.
Mr. Jinnah said that he thought with respect that the Congress stood to lose nothing. The unity of India was a myth. All that Congress would lose was that their minority in Pakistan would cease to have its present protected position under which it enjoys at the present time a dominating position in those areas. As regards the States, if Paramountcy went the States would be bound to come into Hindu India. They could not stand out and they knew it. Sir S. Cripps said that Paramountcy would cease to be, and Mr. Jinnah said he was glad to hear that that was so.
The Secretary of State said that if Mr. Jinnah got his two steel frames set up by agreement he could see the force of the case which he put forward. If, however, Mr. Jinnah did obtain otherwise than by agreement more than the Muslim-majority districts he would find himself in a very vulnerable position subsequently. He would have a large internal element of Hindu population and also external opposition from a hostile Hindustan. Pakistan would be in two parts divided by a power which would be hostile to both of them. That seemed to him to be an exceedingly difficult and dangerous position to be in.
Mr. Jinnah said that he thought this was an exaggerated statement of the position. All the non-Muslims could not be counted as Hindus. He thought that the Congress had nothing to lose and had no need of an agreement. They would get three-quarters of India anyway, whether the British Government had to make an award or not. If the Congress drove the British Government to make an award, very likely they would, in order to appease the Congress, give some part of the six Provinces of Pakistan to Hindustan. The Secretary of State said that the consequences of no agreement were much worse than that. A settlement without agreement would lead to chaos and starvation, and the whole prospect of the future for the Indian people would be blighted.
Mr. Jinnah said that those arguments should in his view be put before the Congress. If he made a concession he would have lost it before the negotiations began. It was Congress who would should make a proposal. The Secretary of State said that the Delegation was not asking Mr. Jinnah to commit himself to anything but merely to say whether he would prefer the matter to be considered on the basis of sovereignty and the small area or a Union and a larger area. Mr. Jinnah said that so far as the Union was concerned he could not accept the principle. On the other hand, he claimed the six Provinces and if Congress considered that that was too much they should say what they considered he ought to have. He was not prepared to say what he was willing to give up.
Sir S. Cripps said that Mr. Jinnah was merely saying that he would not negotiate. If he could make no advance at all it made negotiation impossible. Mr. Alexander said that what the Delegation were putting to Mr. Jinnah was the maximum which they thought the Congress could be brought to agree to. They were asking Mr. Jinnah whether, if the Congress could be persuaded to come that far, he would be prepared to discuss on that basis.
Mr. Jinnah said he understood from the Delegation that there was a chance of a settlement on the basis of the first alternative. If Congress would say that on that basis they wanted certain defined areas taken from Pakistan he was willing to discuss whether what they proposed was reasonable, fair and workable. He would try his very best to reach agreement with the Congress on that basis but if what was proposed struck at the heart of Pakistan it was impossible, and if the principle of Pakistan was not accepted it was no use pursuing the matter. Ultimately, if Congress and the Muslims could not agree the Delegation would have to do what they thought right and they were in a position to do it.
The Secretary of State said that if the Delegation gave an award in the Muslim League's favour and then Great Britain withdrew her troops, the Muslims would be exposed to grave dangers. Mr. Jinnah said that he was 100% in favour of an agreement but what if there was no agreement. The situation was unprecedented. The British Government was asking the Indian people to take self-government and the Indians were unable to do so.
Sir. S. Cripps suggested that Mr. Jinnah should make some alternative suggestion as to what he would like the Delegation to get Congress to agree to. Mr. Jinnah again said that it was Congress who should say what it wanted. The Congress President had today issued a statement sticking to every point.(*note below).
He (Mr. Jinnah) had never said he would not discuss the situation but the Congress President two days before he came to see the Delegation said that he would never agree to sovereignty for Pakistan. Mr. Alexander asked whether he rightly understood Mr. Jinnah to say that if the Congress would make a proposition on the basis of the first of the two alternatives he would be prepared to discuss it. Mr. Jinnah said he was ready to do anything which did not prevent Pakistan from being, in the Delegation's own word, a "viable" State economically, strategically and politically but on that he must insist. The Lahore Resolution contemplated a transitional period. He must tell the Delegation that the only way there could be a peaceful transference of power was that defence should remain in the interim period under British control. It did not mean that Britain must retain it for ever but for a period of years. Sir S. Cripps indicated that this was not a possibility.
The Secretary of State suggested that Mr. Jinnah should think the matter over further and see whether he could not revise his attitude to the second alternative, though he gathered that it was not acceptable. After the Delegation's return from Kashmir perhaps, Mr. Jinnah would let them know his position. In the meantime, had Mr. Jinnah any view to express on whether these two alternatives should be put by the Delegation to the Congress on the following day. Mr. Jinnah said that the more the Congress were encouraged to lop off parts of the Pakistan which he claimed or to reduce its sovereignty, the less possibility there would be of an agreed settlement.(*In a statement made on 15 April 1946, Maulana Azad outlined the Congress position on the constitutional question as it had emerged after four days' discussion by the Working Committee in Delhi. The four fundamental principles of the Congress position were stated to be (i) complete independence (ii) a united India (iii) one Federation composed of fully autonomous units which will have residuary power in their hands (iv) two lists of central subjects one compulsory, the other optional. Maulana Azad felt the Congress formula ought to meet all legitimate Muslim fears while avoiding the inherent defects of the Pakistan demand. See also note 121).
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
1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)