Extra(6A) Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43 and the episode of Gandhi's 1943 letter to Jinnah from jail
Documents included(end comment)
Gandhi and some other leaders, speaking on behalf of Congress, offered M.A. Jinnah the Prime Ministership of India heading an all-Muslim League national government in 1940 and during the Quit India movement in 1942. These excerpts cover Jinnah's response to these offers.
During the All India Muslim League meeting in April 1943, Jinnah, in a public speech[also quoted in Extra(1C)] invited Gandhi to write to him if he had changed his mind on Pakistan. Having read about this invitation in a newspaper in jail, Gandhi wrote a letter to Jinnah which the Viceroy refused to deliver, and which eventually Jinnah disowned all interest in, accusing Gandhi of trying to embroil the Muslim League in conflict with the British government and to secure his own release from jail.
(1) Jinnah's Speech in the Central Legislative Assembly, on the Indian Finance (No. 2) Bill, New Delhi, November 19, 1940(excerpts) [More excerpts in Extra(1A)]
"If you drop your first part and if you mean a composite Government, responsible to the elected Members of this Legislature, provisionally, let us not lose our sense of proportion. I say to the Honourable gentlemen of the Congress Party, we are in danger: say what you like. We cannot be indifferent now. If you really have a practical proposal which can be accepted by all reasonable parties, why don't you adopt the correct channel, the proper procedure, the proper method? What is the use of addressing them. What is the use of despatching it to the Daily Herald. Well, they cannot make up their mind. Mr. Rajagopalacharya has made a 'sporting offer'. Now, we have been told day in and day out even by the able and competent gentlemen of the Press here, the army of them that I see: what is this? Mr. Rajagopalacharya's sporting offer is also not considered. But where is the offer? What does Mr. Rajagopalacharya say ? May I read the few lines in which he has compressed this offer. He says:
'In answer to Mr. Amery's difficulty as to the minorities, I may make a sporting offer that if His Majesty's Government agree to a provisional National Government being formed at once, I shall undertake to persuade my colleagues in the Congress to agree to the Muslim League being invited to nominate the Prime Minister and to let him form a National Government as he would consider best.."
Now, Sir, why does he not invite the prospective Prime Minister to have a talk with him, instead of firing it off to the Daily Herald and saying "I will persuade my colleagues of the Working Committee to do this, that and the other?" I do ask my honourable friends - is this business? And to-day Mr. Rajagopalacharya justifies why he did not make that offer to the Muslim League.
I tell you, I cannot restrain my utter astonishment and amazement as to how that mind works. It is impossible to understand it. This is what he says to-day. I shall only refer to that portion which relates to this subject. The other parts have nothing to do with it. Of course he has paid us a compliment that the Muslims are more ardent for independence than others. I am very glad.
Sir Syed Raza Ali: When did you discover that.
Mr. S. Satyamurti: Before you did!
[At this stage, President (The Honourable Sir. Abdur Rahim) resumed the Chair.]
Mr. M.A. Jinnah: The point is this. They say that the British Government did not take any notice of the 'sporting offer' and some critics suggested that it should have been made to Mr. Jinnah, and not to the British Government. But the offer was not made to the British Government even, though I admit that the British Government have taken note of it. It would, in his opinion, have been improper to make it to Mr. Jinnah in the first instance as Mr. Jinnah would then have had legitimate ground for considering it an insult and retorting that he was not after jobs. I ask, if Mr. Amery had accepted this offer, and, then, if that offer had been made to me, would it not have been open to the same retort, because it is the same offer and the terms are the same. I would have said : "Both Mr. Amery and Mr. Rajagopalacharya are insulting me and that I am not here for jobs." Do give some credit to other people at least for commonsense. Is this really the explanation?
An Honourable Member : Read the later portion also.
Mr. M.A. Jinnah: I am quite willing to read the other part. He says:
"Assuming that Mr. Jinnah accepted the offer, it would not be in the speaker's power to implement it unless there was the prior commitment by the British Government to part with power."
His argument is, if I had accepted it, it was not in his power to implement it. It may not be in his power to implement nor is it in my power to implement, but the latest and authoritative pronouncement of the British Government is this: "If you can put your heads together and bring some agreement we are willing to consider it." Then what is the use of making this offer to Mr. Amery over the head of the Muslim League?
An Honourable Member: We can agree provided they are willing to part with power.
Mr. M.A.Jinnah: I do not think they have ever gone the length that you want to go but they have said this: we are willing immediately to associate the representatives of the political parties and to give them an effective and important share in the Government of India by the proposal of the expanded Executive Council.
Surely that is not the last word. In fact the last word is never spoken in politics. Now if you really think they must give you beforehand the blank cheque that Mr. Gandhi has been giving me for the last 25 years, it is useless. Why not you and I meet and put our heads together? If you make a practical proposition, we present a common united demand to Mr. Amery, or, for the matter of that, to the British Parliament or the British nation if you like.
An Honourable Member: No response from the Congress Party.
Mr. M.A.Jinnah: The Constituent Assembly is a panacea for all the ills of India. Complete Independence. My complaint is- then you stick to that, Godspeed! stick to it honestly: I may agree with you or I may not agree with you, but you will command my admiration and respect: stick to it: and if you do not want to stick to it, then come down to earth and let us deal, as practical men, and face the realities, as Mr. Bhulabhai Desai says, and do not allow others to take advantage- as the Manchester Guardian says - a British Journal - frankly, our power and position in India is due to the mistake of the others, and it will continue if you go on making this mistake." The position is this, I am only dealing with the present. I am not dealing with the future.
There is one last sentence and I will finish. When we talk of this little innocent baby which is put forward, viz., the demand for a National Government responsible to the elected Members of this Legislature, there are far-reaching implications when you examine it in detail - far reaching implications. It will mean fundamental alterations and changes in the Constitution in order to constitute that Cabinet; and when that Cabinet is constituted, it will responsible to the elected Members of the Legislature. Mr. Bhulabhai Desai throughout his speech only emphasized two things: "Democracy, democracy, democracy and a National Government! What is the use? Whatever that cabinet may be, it will be responsible to this Legislature - in which Mr. Bhulabhai Desai can command two thirds of the elected Members. I will pity the man who happens to be in that Cabinet who does not obey the Congress command and the Congress mandate!
(2) Jinnah's Speech at public meeting, Delhi, November 30, 1940(excerpt)
Muslims Have Grown Up
Proceeding Mr. Jinnah referred to statements frequently made in the press by Congressmen and declared that these would not help. Congress leaders say that they are willing to make Mr. Jinnah or any Muslim League nominee Prime Minister of India. They say, 'Let Muslims have all the power. We do not want power. We are ready to accept Muslim rule rather than British rule.' Can any man with a grain of sense believe this? No. The Mussalmans have grown up. They are different totally fundamentally, radically different from what they were three years ago, and I am sure as I am standing here that five years hence they will be more different still..."
(3) Jinnah's Statement on Congress Working Committee Resolution(the Quit India Resolution), Bombay, August 8, 1942(excerpt)
..Congress leaders have now started foreign propaganda. According to them the Congress is fighting purely from an altruistic point of view and does not wish to have any share in the authority and power of the government; the government of India may be handed over to the Muslim League and they will willingly accept Muslim raj rather than British raj. What is most amazing is the fact that Mr. Gandhi has endorsed such individual utterances.
In the first place no intelligent man can believe the sincerity of such a desire, for it is too good to be true. But if they are sincere, I should welcome it. If the British Government accepts the solemn recommendation of Mr. Gandhi and by an arrangement hands over the government of the country to the Muslim League, I am sure that under Muslim rule non Muslims would be treated fairly, nay, generously: and further the British will be making full amends to the Muslims by restoring the government of India to them from whom they had taken it. I am sure Muslims would welcome such a decision on the part of the British Government...
(4) Jinnah's Presidential Address delivered at the Thirtieth Session of the All India Muslim League, Delhi, April 24 1943(excerpts)
.. The Congress position has been from the start up to August 8- that the policy and demand for Pakistan is an untruth. In his correspondence with the Viceroy Mr. Gandhi had forgotten to mention this point altogether, and hence he puts this in a post-script. "The Government have evidently ignored or overlooked the very material fact that the Congress by its August resolution asked nothing for itself. All its demands were for the whole people. As you should be aware the Congress was willing and prepared for the Government inviting Quaid-e-Azam Mr. Jinnah to form a National Government subject to such agreed adjustments as may be necessary for the duration of the war, such Government being responsible to a duly elected assembly."
Am I wrong?
This is Mr. Gandhi's language. The whole crux of this proposal is that he wants such a government as will be responsible to a duly elected assembly. I ask you: what is left, if this is carried out? Is there any doubt that Lord Linlithgow will be immediately turned into a constitutional Co-Governor-General or he might get a kick? The India Office will be abolished and the British Parliament will have no say in India. This central constitution can only be brought into effect by repealing the present constitution completely and substituting another. If I am wrong I shall stand corrected. Once the present central foundation structure is gone the surrounding provincial structure cannot last. What about the provinces? Are they to remain under the Governor? Are they to remain under the present constitution? Therefore you must overhaul, repeal the present constitution and undertake the framing of an entirely new constitution for the whole of India including Indian states. We are asked: what is wrong with that? Pakistan is only to be postponed. The answer is that the moment you accept and undertake this position on the basis of Mr. Gandhi's proposal, Pakistan demand is torpedoed by our consent; the framing of a new constitution on the lines suggested by Mr. Gandhi would lead to the bitterest controversies if any such attempt were made- to say nothing about who was to be authorised to frame such a constitution. Therefore the position of the Congress is exactly the same as ever. Only it is put in different words and in a different language but it means Hindu Raj on an Akhand Hindustan basis- a position which we can never accept.
Nobody would welcome it more than myself if Mr. Gandhi is even now really willing to come to a settlement with the Muslim League on the basis of Pakistan. Let me tell you that it will be the greatest day for both for the Hindus and the Mussalmans. If he has made up his mind, what is there to prevent Mr. Gandhi from writing direct to me? He is writing letters to the Viceroy. Why does he not write to me direct? Who is there that can prevent him from doing so? What is the use of going to the Viceroy and leading deputations and carrying on correspondence? Who is to prevent Mr. Gandhi to-day? I cannot believe for a single moment - strong as this Government may be in this country-you may say anything you like against this Government- I cannot believe that they will have the daring to stop such a letter if it is sent to me.
It will be a very serious thing, indeed, if such a thing is done by the government. But I do not see any evidence of any kind of change of policy on the part of Mr. Gandhi or the Congress or the Hindu leadership...
..But great men also make mistakes. Mr. Gandhi gets all the information, all the newspapers and knows and understands what is going in. If there is any change of heart on his part, he has only to drop me a few lines, when, I assure you, the Muslim League will not fail, whatever may have been our controversies in the past.."
(5) Gandhi's letter to Jinnah(full text)
692 page 953
The Marquess of Linlithgow to Mr. Amery
Telegram 8 May 1943
No. 1128-S Reference my immediately preceding telegram No. 1127-S. Following is letter dated 4th May from Gandhi to Jinnah:-
Begins. Dear Qaid-e-Azam, When some time after my incarceration, the Government asked me for a list of newspapers I would like to have, I included the Dawn in my list. I have been receiving it with more or less regularity. Whenever it comes to me, I read it carefully. I have followed the proceedings of the League as reported in the Dawn columns. I noted your invitation to me to write to you. Hence this letter.
I welcome your invitation. I suggest our meeting face to face rather than talking through correspondence. But I am in your hands. I hope this letter will be sent to you and if you agree to my proposal, that the Government will let you visit me.
One thing I had better mention. There seems to be an "if" about your invitation. Do you say I should write only if I have changed my heart? God alone knows men's hearts. I would like you to take me as I am. Why should not both you and I approach the great question of communal unity as men determined on finding a common solution and work together to make our solution acceptable to all who are concerned with it or are interested in it?
Yours sincerely, M.K. Gandhi. Ends.
(6) Jinnah's Statement on Government communiqué regarding Mr. Gandhi's letter, Bombay, May 28, 1943(full text)
I have received a communication from the Secretary to the Government of India, Home Department, dated May 24, that Mr. Gandhi's letter merely expresses a wish to meet me, and this letter, Government have decided, cannot be forwarded to me.
This letter of Mr. Gandhi can only be construed as a move on his part to embroil the Muslim League to come into clash with the British Government solely for the purpose of helping his release, so that he would be free to do what he pleases thereafter.
There is really no change of policy on the part of Mr. Gandhi and no genuine desire to meet the suggestions that I made in my speech during the session of the All India Muslim League at Delhi. Although I have always been ready and willing to meet Mr. Gandhi or any other Hindu leader and shall be still glad to meet him, yet merely expressing his desire to meet me is not the kind of ephemeral letter that I suggested in my speech that Gandhi should write, and which has been now stopped by the Government.
No change of heart
My speech was directed to meet the appeals that were made to me and are now being made by Hindu leaders, that the Muslim League should do something towards the solution of the deadlock, and my suggestions about the kind of letter that Mr. Gandhi should write were in response to those appeals, when I said that I myself saw no change of heart.
There was no evidence of any change of policy on the part of Mr. Gandhi or Hindu leadership, and I referred to the recent correspondence that had been passed between Mr. Gandhi and the Viceroy, which, on the contrary, showed that Mr. Gandhi fully maintained his stand of August 8, 1942.
But nevertheless, some of the responsible Hindu leaders pressed upon me that Mr. Gandhi has not realized that he had made a mistake and that he would be prepared to consider and retrace his step if he were given an opportunity to do so, and that he had changed his attitude towards Pakistan and would be willing to come to a settlement on the basis of Pakistan, but the British Government were preventing the Hindu-Muslim settlement by refusing people of position and standing to establish contact with him for this purpose. I therefore suggested that if Gandhi were to write to me a letter indicating that he was prepared to retrace his steps and abandon his policy and programme culminating in the resolution of the A.I.C.C of August 8, and was even now willing to come to a settlement with the Muslim League on the basis of Pakistan, we were willing to bury the past and forget it. I still believe that the Government will not dare stop such a letter if it came from Mr. Gandhi.
I regret that the Congress press, as usual, is indulging in cheap gibes and slogans based on the publication of isolated passages from my speech and even those are mutilated and important words are eliminated from them. This may serve as misleading and inimical propaganda but is not calculated to create a friendly atmosphere, which is essential. In my opinion the press and those who are indulging in various thoughtless statements are doing great disservice.
After this statement Viceroy Linlithgow wrote approvingly of Jinnah to the Secretary of State Amery.
755 page 1032
The Marquess of Linlithgow to Mr. Amery(excerpts)
THE VICEROY'S HOUSE, NEW DELHI, 1 June 1943
..2. First of all for a word about our position here. The Gandhi-Jinnah business has gone off very well indeed. It is clear that as things stand, by adopting your technique and that of the Cabinet we are in a better position than we should have been had we followed my original proposals, for we remain intact on the principle of keeping Gandhi shut off from the world, while, thanks to the statesmanlike and courageous attitude which Jinnah has adopted, we find ourselves in a position which I hoped we would have attained by the procedure which I had originally recommended. In holding that on balance it would pay us to send the letter in order, first, to let them run their heads together, and secondly, to show the world that there was no sign of any real move on Gandhi's part, I undervalued Jinnah's skill.
So far as advertisement goes Jinnah has had bigger and better advertisement as things have worked out that he could have obtained had we sent the letter. I was myself more concerned about House of Commons reactions than about possible reactions here, and when I found that the Cabinet was set, and apparently happy about Parliament and the U.S.A., I did not come back a second time as I should have had I regarded the point as vital. But that is now all over.
Meanwhile the fact that Jinnah has wholly associated himself in his public statement on Gandhi's letter with the principle that there can be no communication with Gandhi so long as the Mahatma does not call off the policy of August last is a very valuable advance; and valuable, too, from another point of view since it puts us on perfectly firm ground as regards the content of Gandhi's letter to Jinnah.
Whatever Gandhi may have meant by his sibylline utterances in that letter about a change of heart, if those utterances were to be read as referring to Pakistan, one thing that is perfectly clear from his letter (particularly in view of his letter to Samuel which followed it) is that he has not made any move whatever from the political position which he adopted last year and as a result of which he has been in confinement since August last..."
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
1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)