League rejects CMP calls direct action

CMP(14) Muslim League withdraws acceptance of the Plan,  calls for Direct Action and Viceroy Wavell talks to Jawaharlal Nehru in July-August 1946
Documents included
  • Resolution 1 of the Council of the All-India Muslim League 29 July 1946 . From Speeches and Documents on the Indian Constitution 1921-47, Vol II. Selected by Sir Maurice Gwyer and A. Appadorai, 1957.(excerpts) [Full text in CMP(12C)]
  • Viceroy Wavell's interview with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 30th July 1946. 'The Transfer of Power 1942-47' Vol VIII The Interim Government 3 July- 1 November 1946, Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, 1979.(excerpts)
  • Statement by Mr M. A. Jinnah on the Congress Resolution of 10 August 1946, 12 August 1946- Gwyer and Appadorai.(excerpts)
  • Jinnah's Statement while releasing his correspondence with the Viceroy, 25 August 1946,  'Speeches, Statements and Messages of the Quaid-e-Azam', Vol IV, Ed. Khursid Yusufi.(excerpts)


On 29 July, the Muslim League withdrew its acceptance of the Mission Plan and declared Direct Action. The Viceroy told Nehru he was partly responsible and ought to placate Jinnah. [-as if constitutional arrangements are simply a matter of one man being placated on terms set by the British with no regard to their intrinsic merits. It might be worth looking at Middle Eastern history to see if THEIR present troubles stem from unworkable constitutional contraptions left behind by the departing British].

Resolutions of the Council of the All-India Muslim League 29 July 1946 (excerpts) [Full text in CMP(12C)]

Resolution No 1.
On the 6th of June 1946, the Council of the All-India Muslim League accepted the scheme embodied in the statement of the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy dated 16th May...

The scheme of the Cabinet Delegation fell far short of the demand of the Muslim nation for the immediate establishment of an independent and fully sovereign state of Pakistan comprising the six Muslim Provinces, but the Council accepted a Union Centre for ten years strictly confined to three subjects, viz, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications, as the scheme laid down certain fundamentals and safeguards and provided for the grouping separately of the six Muslim Provinces in Sections B and C for the purpose of framing their Provincial and group Constitutions unfettered by the Union in any way; and also with a view to end the Hindu-Muslim deadlock peacefully and accelerate the attainment of freedom of the peoples of India.

In arriving at this decision, the Council was also greatly influenced by the statement of the President which he made with the authority of the Viceroy that the Interim Government, which was an integral part of the Mission's scheme, was going to be formed on the basis of a formula, viz, 5 Muslim League, 5 Congress, 1 Sikh and 1 Indian Christian or Anglo-Indian stipulating that the most important portfolios would be distributed equally between the two major parties, the Muslim League and the Congress.

The Council authorized the President to take such decision and action with regard to further details of setting up the Interim Government as he deemed fit and proper. In that very resolution the Council also reserved the right to modify and revise this policy, if the course of events so required.

The British Government committed a breach of faith with the Muslim League in that the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy went back on the original formula of 5:5:2 for setting up of the Interim Government to placate the Congress.

Having gone back on the original formula upon the faith of which the Muslim League Council had come to their decision of the 6th of June, the Viceroy suggested a new basis of 5:5:3 and...(etc)

As regards the proposal embodied in the statements of the 16th and 25th of May of the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy, the Muslim League alone of the two major parties has accepted it.

The Congress have not accepted it because their acceptance is conditional and subject to their own interpretation which is contrary to the authoritative statements of the Delegation and the Viceroy issued on the 16th and the 25th of May. The Congress have made it clear that they do not accept any of the terms or the fundamentals of the scheme but that they have agreed only to go into the Constituent Assembly and to nothing else; and that the Constituent Assembly is a sovereign body and can take such decisions as it may think proper in total disregard of the terms and basis on which it was proposed to be set up.

Subsequently it has been made further clear and beyond any doubt in the speeches that were made at the All-India Congress Committee in Bombay on the 6th of July by prominent members of the Congress and in the statement of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the President of the Congress, to a press conference on 10th July in Bombay and then again even after the debate in Parliament in a public speech by him on the 22nd of July...

Once the Constituent Assembly were summoned and met there was no provision or power that could prevent any decision from being taken by the Congress, with its overwhelming majority, which could not be competent for the Assembly to take or which would be ultra vires of it and however repugnant it might be to the letter or the spirit of the scheme.

It would rest entirely with the majority to take such decisions as they may think proper or suit them and the Congress have already secured by sheer numbers an overwhelming Caste-Hindu majority whereby they will be in a position to use the Assembly in the manner in which they have already declared, i.e, that they will wreck the basis form of grouping of the Provinces and extend the scope, powers and subjects of the Union Centre which is confined strictly to three specific subjects as laid down in paragraph 15 and provided for in paragraph 19 of the statement of 16th May.

The Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy collectively and individually have stated on more than one occasion that the basic principles were laid down to enable the major parties to join the Constituent Assembly and that the scheme cannot succeed unless it is worked in a spirit of co-operation.

The attitude of the Congress clearly shows that these conditions precedent for the successful working of the constitution-making body do not exist. This fact, taken together with the policy of the British Government of sacrificing the interests of the Muslim nation and some other weaker sections of the peoples of India, particularly the Scheduled Castes, to appease the Congress and the way in which they have been going back on their oral and written solemn pledges and assurances given from time to time to the Muslims, leaves no doubt that in these circumstances the participation of the Muslims in the proposed constitution-making machinery is fraught with danger and the Council, therefore, hereby withdraws its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission's proposals.."

(end excerpts)

The second resolution called for Direct Action by Muslims.  [full text in CMP(A3)]

The Viceroy spoke to Nehru on the subject the next day.

91, page 144 (relevant portions)
Note by Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
Wavell papers. Notes of Important Interviews 1943-7 pp 192-3

His Excellency's interview with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 30th July 1946

1. I began by asking him about his visit to Kashmir...
2. I then said that the Resolution of the Muslim League had changed the situation since we last met. I said that it was most unfortunate, but I thought that Nehru must recognise that what the League had done was partly reaction from the rather intemperate statements made by some of the leaders since the A-I.C.C in Bombay; I referred in particular to his own unguarded language in his interview with the Press after the meeting.

I said it would be most unfortunate if we did not succeed in getting the Muslim League to join the Constituent Assembly since obviously it would be impossible to frame a complete constitution without the Muslims. I said that Congress now had a chance of showing real statesmanship and of giving the Muslim League assurances that would bring them into the Constituent Assembly.

Nehru said that he agreed it would be most unfortunate if the Muslim League did not enter the Constituent Assembly but he did not quite see what assurances could be given to them, they certainly could not be given an assurance of Pakistan.

I said that the principal grievance of the League against Congress was that the statements of the Congress leaders made them believe that it was not intended to give the Group system, on the basis of which the Muslim League had agreed to join, a fair chance. I referred specially to the Congress reservations in their acceptance of the Statement of May 16th. Nehru said that the Muslim League had also made reservations.

I pointed out that these were long-term reservations, on a possible Pakistan a number of years ahead; whereas the Congress reservations were short-term ones and affected the immediate issue.

Nehru then began on the legal interpretation of various articles and sentences in the Statement of May 16th, such as have already been well ventilated. I said that I was neither a lawyer nor a politician but a plain man and I knew what the intentions were of the people who drew up this document, and it seemed to me to be pure casuistry to try and force different interpretations out of it.

Nehru merely said that there were points in the document which would have to be interpreted, and the Congress had intended to refer these to the Federal Court, not just to force them through by weight of votes.

3. He then asked what was going to be done about the Constituent Assembly now that the Muslim League had declined to participate. I said that obviously it was impossible to make a constitution of India without the participation of Muslims. We were pledged to go ahead as far as possible with any party that accepted the Statement of May 16th, but that I did not see how, without the Muslims, we could get much further than a constitution for the "A" Group Provinces.

Nehru then said that the intention of the Congress had been to form a Committee of all parties at the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly, to discuss the implications of the Central subjects, not to extend them, in order to give the groups some sort of basis on which to work. He instanced the matter of foreign loans, i.e., would Provinces be entitled to raise their own loans abroad independently, or would there be some general policy based on the credit of India as a whole.

4. Nehru went on to refer to the making of the American constitution. He said that if the British went there would be a vacuum which would have to be filled. We discussed the framing of the American constitution for a little, and he said that his point was that if it was clear that things were going to go ahead the Muslim League would be forced to come in and take part; the fatal thing would be if they were given to believe that they could hold matters up indefinitely by intransigence..."
(end excerpts)


In response to a 10th August Congress resolution expressing regret at the Muslim League's decision and to a Parliamentary debate referring to the Plan in Britain, Jinnah expressed outrage over, among other things, the resolution passed by the Assam Assembly not to participate in Section C.

Statement by Mr M. A. Jinnah on the Congress Resolution of 10 August 1946, 12 August 1946(excerpts)

"..The debate in Parliament which took place on the 18th of July showed that the British Government approved of the scrapping of the Interim Government by the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy and paid no attention whatever to the new situation that had arisen, not only by pronouncements and clarifications and interpretations given by the Congress leaders which were published throughout the country, but also by the fact that the Assam Assembly, while electing the Assam representatives to the Constituent Assembly, had, under the instructions of the Congress High Command, passed a resolution giving a mandate not only to the Congress members but also to the representatives of the Mussulmans elected by a separate block of Muslim members, to have nothing to do with the C Group from the very start.

This clearly repudiated one of the fundamental terms of the statement of 16th May and this is an instance of how the majority acted although it is highly doubtful whether the Assam Assembly was competent to give such a mandate to the representatives of the Constituent Assembly.."
(end excerpts)

On the morning of 15 August 1946, a day before the Direct Action Day, Nehru went to meet Jinnah at his home and discussed the possible composition of the Interim Government.

According to V.P. Menon in 'The Transfer of Power', Nehru told the Viceroy later he had

"offered Jinnah five seats in an interim government of fourteen, and made it clear to him that any names proposed by the Muslim League would be accepted by the Congress. Jinnah asked how the minorities would be nominated, and Nehru had replied that, as he had been asked to make the proposals, he would naturally suggest the names of minority representatives for the consideration of the Viceroy. Jinnah complained that under the proposed arrangement it would be open to the Congress to nominate a non-League Muslim. Nehru told him that he did not see how the League could object, if it came out of the Congress quota."

No agreement came out of this discussion and Direct Action Day went ahead as planned.

Jinnah's Statement while releasing his correspondence with the Viceroy, Bombay, August 25, 1946(excerpts)

A Mere Formality
I had, and have, no knowledge as to what actually transpired between the Congress and the Viceroy but, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, I suppose as arranged, came to see me on the 15th of August. It was merely a formality and he made his offer. That the Congress were willing to give out of 14, five seats to the Muslim League and the remaining 9 were to be nominated by them, including one Muslim of their choice; that he was not forming the Executive Council under the present constitution but the Provisional National Government responsible to the present Legislative Assembly; and he made it clear in his letter of 15th August in reply to mine of the same date that while he was willing to discuss the larger question with me, he had no new suggestion to make and added, 'perhaps you may be able to make a new approach' and when I did make a suggestion, he turned it down saying that the Congress stand was the same as laid down in their resolution of Delhi passed on June 26 and that the Wardha resolution of August 10, had only re-affirmed that stand, and this was repeated by him at the Press conference on 16 August before his departure for Delhi to meet the Viceroy.

Not Acceptable
I informed Pandit Nehru that in these circumstances there was no chance of the Working Committee or the Council of the All-India Muslim League accepting his proposals.


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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