CMP(7B)  Jinnah and Azad's responses to the Cabinet Mission's preliminary proposals  8-9 May 1946
Documents included
  • Mr. Turnbull to Maulana Azad and Mr. Jinnah on the 'Suggested points for agreement between the representatives of the Congress and Muslim League'  8 May 1946(full text)
  • Mr. Jinnah to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, 8 May 1946 (full text)
  • Maulana Azad to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, 9 May 1946(full text)
[For Muslim League and Congress positions on 12 May see CMP(2)]

From 'The Transfer of Power 1942-7' Volume VII The Cabinet Mission 23 March-29 June 1946, Eds, Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, 1977 (full text)

This interim set of proposals from the British and Jinnah's and Azad's responses to them underline the three parties' respective positions during the Simla Conference. The differences between the League and Congress positions on the communal grouping of the provinces and two constitution-making bodies lingered in the coming months and became the reasons for breakdown of the Cabinet Mission Plan.

 220 page 462
Mr Turnbull to Maulana Azad and Mr Jinnah 8 May 1946 (full text)

With reference to the Secretary of State's letter to you this morning the Cabinet Delegation wish me  to send to you the enclosed document which is the paper to which the Secretary of State referred. The  Delegation propose that this paper should be discussed at the next meeting to be held on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m if that is agreeable to the Congress/Muslim delegates.

Enclosure to No. 220


1. There shall be an All-India Union Government and Legislature dealing with Foreign Affairs, Defence, Communications, fundamental rights and having the necessary powers to obtain for itsef the finances it  requires for these subjects.

2. All the remaining powers shall vest in the Provinces.

3. Groups of Provinces may be formed and such groups may determine the Provincial subjects which they  desire to take in common.

4. The groups may set up their own Executives and Legislatures.

5. The Legislature of the Union shall be composed of equal proportions from the Muslim-majority Provinces and for the Hindu-majority Provinces whether or not these or any of them have formed  themselves into groups, together with representatives of the States.

6. The Government of the Union shall be constituted in the same proportion as the Legislature.

7. The constitutions of the Union and the groups(if any) shall contain a provision whereby any Province can by a majority vote of its Legislative Assembly call for a reconsideration of the terms of the constitution after an initial period of 10 years and at 10 yearly intervals thereafter. For the purpose of such reconsideration a body shall be constituted on the same basis as the original Constituent Assembly and with the same provisions as to voting and shall have power to amend the constitution in any way decided upon.

8. The constitution-making machinery to arrive at a constitution on the above basis shall be as following:-

A. Representatives shall be elected from each Provincial Assembly in proportion to the strengths of the various parties in that assembly on the basis of 1/10th of their numbers.

B. Representatives shall be invited from the States on the basis of their population in proportion to the representation from British India.

C.The Constituent Assembly so formed shall meet at the earliest date possible in New Delhi.

D. After its preliminary meeting at which the general order of business will be settled it will divide into three sections, one section representing the Hindu-majority Provinces, one section representing the Muslim-majority Provinces and one representing the States.

E. The first two sections will then meet separately to decide the Provincial constitutions for their group and, if they wish, a group constitution.

F. When these have been settled it will be open to any Province to decide to opt out of its original groups and into the other group or to remain outside any group.

G. Thereafter the three bodies will meet together to settle the constitution for the Union on the lines agreed in paragraphs 1-7 above.

H. No major point in the Union constitution which affects the communal issue shall be deemed to be passed by the Assembly unless a majority of both the major communities vote in its favour.

9. The Viceroy shall forthwith call together the above constitution-making machinery which shall be governed by the provisions states in paragraph 8 above.

221 page 464
Mr Jinnah to Lord Pethick-Lawrence(full text)

Dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,

I have now received the letter of your Private Secretary, dated 8th May 1946, and the enclosed  document to which you had referred in your earlier letter of 8th May 1946. It is proposed by you that  this "paper" be discussed at the next meeting of the Conference to be held on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. if this is agreeable to the Muslim League Delegation.

Your proposal embodied in your letter of 27th April 1946 runs as follows:-

"A Union Government dealing with the folowing subjects:-Foreign Affairs, Defence and Communications. There will be two groups of Provinces, the one of the predominantly Hindu Provinces and the other of the predominantly Muslim Provinces, dealing with all other subjects which the Provinces in the respective groups desire to be dealt with in common. The provincial governments will deal with all other subjects and will have all residuary sovereign rights."

This matter was to be discussed at Simla and we agreed to attend the Conference on Sunday, 5th May, 1946, on the terms of my letter, dated 28th April 1946.

You were good enough to explain your formula and then after hours of discussion on the 5th and 6th of May, the Congress finally and definitely turned down the proposed Union confined only to three subjects even with power to levy contribution for financing the Union.

Next, your formula clearly envisaged an agreement precedent between the Congress and the Muslim League with regard to the grouping of Muslim and Hindu provinces and the formation of two federations of the grouped provinces and it followed that there must be two constitution-making machineries. It was on that basis that some kind of Union was suggested in your formula confined only to three subjects and our approval was sought in order to put into this skeleton blood and flesh. This proposal was also categorically turned down by the Congress and the meeting had to be adjourned for the Mission to consider the matter further as to what steps they may take in the matter.

And now the new enclosed document has been sent to us with a view that "this paper should be discussed at the next meeting to be held on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.". The heading of the paper is  "Suggested Points for Agreement between the Representatives of Congress and the Muslim League". By whom are they suggested, it is not made clear.

We are of the opinion that the new suggested points for agreement are a fundamental departure from the  original formula embodied in your letter of 27th April, which was rejected by the Congress.

To mention some of the important points we are now asked to agree that there should be one All-India Union Government in terms of paragraphs 1-7 of this paper, which adds one more subject to be vested in the Union Government i.e. "Fundamental Rights" and it is not made clear whether the Union Government and Legislature will have power or not to obtain for itself the finances by means of taxation.

In the new "suggestions", the question of grouping of provinces is left exactly as the Congress spokesman desired in the course of discussions that have taken place hitherto, and is totally different from your original formula.  That there should be a single constitution-making body, we can never agree to; nor can we agree to the method of formation of constitution-making machineries suggested in the paper.

There are many other objectionable features contained in the suggestions which we have not dealt with as we are only dealing with the main points arising out of this paper. In these circumstances, we think, no useful purpose will be served to discuss this paper, as it is a complete departure from your original formula, unless after what we have said above you still desire us to discuss it in the Conference itself tomorrow.

228 page 476
Maulana Azad to Lord Pethick-Lawrence (full text)
"THE RETREAT", SIMLA, 9 May 1946

Dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,

My colleagues and I have given the most careful consideration to the memorandum sent by you yesterday suggesting various points of agreement. On the 28th April I sent you a letter in which I explained briefly the Congress view-point in regard to certain "fundamental principles" mentioned in your letter of 27th April. After the first day of the conference, on May 6th, I wrote to you again to avoid any possible misunderstanding regarding the issues being discussed in the conference.

I now find from your memorandum that some of your suggestions are entirely opposed to our views and to the views repeatedly declared by the Congress. We are thus placed in a difficult position. It has been and is our desire to explore every avenue for a settlement and a change-over in India by consent, and for this purpose we are prepared to go far. But there are obvious limits beyond which we cannot go if we are convinced that this would be injurious to the people of Inida and to India's progress as a free nation.

In my previous letters I have laid stress on the necessity of having a strong and organic Federal Union. I have also stated that we do not approve of sub-federations or groupings of provinces in the manner suggested, and are wholly opposed to parity in executives or legislatures as between wholly unequal groups. We do not wish to come in the way of provinces or other units cooperating together, if they so choose, but this must be entirely optional.

The proposals you have put forward are meant, we presume, to limit the free discretion of the Constituent Assembly. We do not see how this can be done. We are at present concerned with one important aspect of a larger problem. Any decision on this aspect taken now might well conflict with the decisions we, or the Constituent Assembly, might want to take on other aspects. The only reasonable course [it] appears to us is to have a Constituent Assembly with perfect freedom to draw up its constitution, with certain reservations to protect the rights of minorities. Thus we may agree that any major communal issue must be settled by consent of the parties concerned, or, where such consent is not obtained, by arbitration.

From the proposals you have sent us(8 D.E.F.G) it would appear that two or three separate constitutions might emerge for separate groups, joined together by a flimsy common super-structure left to the mercy of the three dis-jointed groups.

There is also compulsion in the early stages for a province to join a particular group whether it wants to or not. Thus why should the Frontier Province which is clearly a Congress Province, be compelled to join any group hostile to the Congress?

We realise that in dealing with human beings, as individuals and groups, many consideration have to be borne in mind besides logic and reason. But logic and reason cannot be ignored altogether, and unreason and injustice are dangerous companions at any time and, more especially, when we are building for the future of hundreds of millions of human beings.

I shall now deal with some of the points in your memorandum and make some suggestions in regard to them.

No. 1.- We note that you have provided for the Union to have necessary powers to obtain for itself the finance it requires for the subjects its deals with. We think it should be clearly stated that the Federal Union must have power to raise revenues in its own right. Further that currency and customs must in any event be included in the Union subjects, as well as such other subjects as on closer scrutiny may be found to be intimately allied to them. One other subject is an essential and inevitable Union subject and that is Planning. Planning can only be done effectively at the Centre, though the Provinces or units will give effect to it in their respective areas.

The Union must also have power to have remedial action in cases of breakdown of the constitution and in grave public emergencies.

Nos. 5 and 6.- We are entirely opposed to the proposed parity, both in the Executive and Legislature, as between wholly unequal groups. This is unfair and will lead to trouble. Such a provision contains in itself the seed of conflict and the destruction of free growth. If there is no agreement on this or any similar matter, we are prepared to leave it to arbitration.

No. 7.- We are prepared to accept the suggestion that provision be made for a reconsideration of the constitution after ten years. Indeed the constitution will necessarily provide the machinery for its revision at any time.

The second clause lays down the reconsideration should be done by a body constituted on the same basis as the Constituent Assembly. This present provision is intended to meet an emergency. We expect that the constitution for India will be based on adult suffrage. Ten years hence India is not likely to be satisfied with anything less than adult suffrage to express its mind on all grave issues.

No.8-A.- We would suggest that the just and proper method of elections, fair to all parties, is the method of proportional representation by single transferable vote. It might be remembered that the present basis of election for the provincial assemblies is strongly weighted in favour of the minorities.

The proportion of 1/10th appears to be too small and will limit the numbers of the Constituent Assembly too much. Probably the number would not exceed 200. In the vitally important tasks the Assembly will have to face, it should have larger numbers. We suggest that at least one-fifth of the total membership of the provincial assemblies should be elected for the Constituent Assembly.

No.8-B.-This clause is vague and requires elucidation. But for the present we are not going into further details.

No.8-D.E.F.G.-I have aready referred to these clauses. We think that both the formation of these groups and the procedure suggested are wrong and undesirable. We do not wish to rule out the formation of groups if the Provinces so desire. But this subject must be left open for decision by the Constituent Assembly. The drafting and settling of the constitution should begin with the Federal Union. This should contain common and uniform provisions for the Provinces and other units. The Provinces may then add to these.

No. 8-H.-In the circumstances existing today we are prepared to accept some such clause. In case of disagreement the matter should be referred to arbitration.

I have pointed out above some of the obvious defects, as we see them, in the proposals contained in your memorandum. If these are remedied, as suggested by us, we might be in a position to recommend their acceptance by the Congress. But as drafted in the memorandum sent to us, I regret that we are unable to accept them.

On the whole, therefore, if the suggestions are intended to have a binding effect, with all the will in the world to have an agreement with the League, we must repudiate most of them. Let us not run into any evil greater than the one all of us three parties should seek to avoid.

If an agreement honourable to both the parties and favourable to the growth of free and united India cannot be achieved, we would suggest that an interim Provisional Government responsible to the elected  members of the Central Assembly be formed at once and the matters in dispute concerning the Constituent Assembly between the Congress and the League be referred to an independent tribunal.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947

CMP (18) - My take

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad

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

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

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

1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher

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

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

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

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

1944:  Gandhi-Jinnah talks 1944, Jaswant Singh

1830s-1898: British Forward Policy(1)

1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)

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