SS5 Anita Inder Singh

1939-1940 India and the War, Anita Inder Singh
Quotes included:
  • Presidential Address of M.A.Jinnah, All India Muslim League Session, Lucknow, October 1937 (excerpts)
  • 1939-1940: India and the War,  Anita Inder Singh(excerpts)
  • Presidential Address of M.A.Jinnah, All India Muslim League Session, Madras, April 1941(excerpts)

Muslim League proceedings quoted from
Foundations of Pakistan, All-India Muslim League Documents: 1906-1947, Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Vol II 1924-1947,  Metropolitan Book Co, New Delhi.
Anita Inder Singh quoted from The Origins of the Partition of India 1936-1947, India and the War: September 1939 to December 1941,  Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1987.

Anita Inder Singh has written a copiously-referenced and clearsighted narration of a critical period of India's pre-independence history. The portion excerpted here corresponds to the period subsequent to Britain's declaration of war,  in 1939 and 1940, and it supplements and complements the material excerpted in 1937-1940(2), Glend1 , Glend2, and Glend3, especially the last.  [A selection of M.A. Jinnah's speeches and statements from the period 1938-40 can be found here.]

These excerpts underline the specifics relating to the British use of M. A. Jinnah and his demands as pretexts to avoid the smallest of concessions to Congress demands on anything whatsoever -whether a declaration of war aims, the formation of an all-party national government or a timetable for constitutional advance.  Pointing to the demonstrable disunity among Indians, the Viceroy was able to make it clear that only such re-examination of the 1935 Government of India Act
as was deemed desirable after the war, could be promised. 

Jinnah meanwhile,  asked the Viceroy to dismiss the Congress provincial ministries then holding office in seven of eleven provinces. Probably his intent was to prevent the Congress from making any demands as condition to remain in office and co-operate with the war effort.  On 30 October 1939, Congress ministries themselves quit office in protest against British refusal to state their war aims with respect to India.  In the following month, the Viceroy set Congress-Jinnah agreement in the provinces as the condition for Congress entry into any national-level arrangement.  Jinnah and the League declared that independence and democracy were unsuited to India and  demanded
that Congress withdraw its declaration against the British as pre-condition for any League-Congress agreement in the provinces.

In March 1940,  Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution demanding a separate sovereign state comprising the Muslim majority provinces. In August 1940, the British made the "August offer" of national government to all Indian parties. Jinnah whereupon demanded, as a pre-condition for Muslim League's entry into national government, that if Congress returned to provincial ministries, the Muslim League must have an equal share with Congress, and if the Congress did not return, Muslim League must have (unelected) Muslim majorities presiding over these Hindu majority provinces. 

(The Muslim populations in these provinces were Assam-34%, Bihar-13%, Bombay-9.2%, Central Provinces-5%, Madras-8%, Orissa-2%, United Provinces-15.3%. The proportions of seats won by Congress in the provinces' assemblies in 1937  were
Assam 30.5%, Bihar 64%, Bombay 49%,  C.P. 62.5%, Madras 74%,  Orissa 60%, U.P. 59%, and  N W F P 38%[where population was 92% Muslim]).

It is well to look back in time and remember in this context that Jinnah and Muslim League had disowned the very legitimacy of elected  majority-based provincial Congress governments in October 1937, only three months after they took office.  [See MJAkbar for more on this period.]

All India Muslim League Twenty Fifth Session, Lucknow, October 1937
Presidential Address of M.A.Jinnah
. . .
The Congress attitude
The present leadership of the Congress, especially during the last 10 years, has been responsible for alienating the Musalmans of India more and more, by pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu; since they have formed Governments in six provinces where they are in a majority, they have by their words and deed and programme shown, more and more, that the Musalmans cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands. Wherever they were in a majority and wherever it suited them, they refused to co-operate with the Muslim League parties and demanded unconditional surrender and the signing of their pledges.

The demand was insistent: abjure your party and foreswear your policy and programme, and liquidate the Muslim League; but where they found that they did not have a majority, as in the North-West-Frontier Province, their sacred principle of collective responsibility disappeared, and promptly the Congress party in the Province was allowed to coalesce with any other group. Any individual Musalman member who was willing to unconditionally surrender and sign their pledge was offered a job as a minister, and was passed off as a Musalman minister, although he did not command the confidence or the respect of a overwhelming majority of the Musalman representatives in the legislatures. These men are allowed to move about and pass off as Muslim ministers for the 'loyal' services they have rendered to the Congress by surrendering and signing the pledge unconditionally; and the degree of their reward is the extent of their perfidy. . .

Here it will not be out of place to state that the responsibility of the British Government is no less in the disastrous consequences which may ensue. It has been clearly demonstrated that the Governor and the Governor-General who have been given the powers, and special responsibility, to safeguard and protect the minorities under the Constitution which was made so much of by Lord Zetland, the Secretary of State for India, during the controversy of the assurances demanded by the Congress Party, have failed to use them, and have thereby been a party to the flagrant breach of the spirit of the Constitution and the instrument of instructions in the matter of the appointment of Muslim ministers. On the contrary, they have been a party to passing off men as Muslim ministers by appointing them as such, although they know full well that they do not command the confidence of the Muslim representatives or the public outside. If in a matter like this, the Governors have shown their utter helplessness and disregard for their sacred obligations, which were assumed by the British Government for the protection of minorities, could they, or would they, be able to afford protection in a hundred and one other matters which may not come up to the surface to be known in the day-to-day working of the Legislature and the administrative machinery? These are very serious and noteworthy signs of the times.
(end quote)

Resolution VII: This Meeting of the All-India Muslim League deprecates and protests against the formation of Ministries in certain Provinces by Congress Parties in flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the Government of India Act 1935 and the instrument of instructions, and condemns the Governors for their failure to enforce the special powers entrusted to them for the safeguard of interests of the Musalmans and other important minorities. (Proposed by Malik Barkat Ali and seconded by Mr. I.I. Chundrigar.)
(end quotes)

[Incidentally, in direct contradiction of some of Jinnah's assertions on the issue, Sarvepalli Gopal writes in Jawaharlal Nehru A Biography' , Volume One, 1973:
. . . [I]t was decided to offer ministerships to Khaliquzzaman and Nawab Ismail Khan in return for acceptance of the Congress programme and the winding up of the Muslim League group[in U.P.] and the U.P. parliamentary board. All Muslim League legislators should become full members of the Congress party and abide by its discipline; no Muslim League candidates should be set up in by-elections, and they should resign their offices or vacate their seats whenever the Congress decided to do so.[ref:Jawaharlal to Rajendra Prasad, Khaliquzzaman]

These were stringent conditions which, if accepted, would have seriously weakened the Muslim League in the U.P., although Khaliquzzaman and others were not asked to sever all connection with the parent Muslim League or specifically to take the Congress pledge.
(end quote)]

One may wonder about the motives of some historians who today imply that the Congress was not willing to grant Jinnah's "just demands" in the war period. As will be clear from the following excerpts  from Anita Inder Singh and Jinnah's address in 1941, Jinnah's "just demands" in the 1939-1940 period included requiring  Congress to disown independence of India as its avowed goal,  to surrender  its legislative majorities to Muslim League in the Hindu-majority provinces while also agreeing to League's demand for a separate sovereign state in the Muslim majority provinces. This was in addition to  Congress recognition of Muslim League as the sole spokesman of all India's Muslims.
(end comment)

India and the War
Anita Inder Singh writes:
On 3 September 1939, a new chapter in Indian politics opened. The Viceroy announced India's entry into the war without consulting political parties, legislature or provincial ministries. Linlithgow's overriding objective was to turn India into a war base, and to provide men and money; and he regarded the problem of winning the cooperation of Indian parties for the war effort to be one of 'particular urgency'... He attached the greatest importance to winning the support  of Gandhi and Nehru, because of their popular appeal, for the war effort. As late as May 1941 Linlithgow wrote home to Amery:

"... I should myself regard it as unjustified in the light of all the teachings of history to try and proscribe or to ignore a great political party which represents unquestionably the spearhead of nationalism in this country. . .  I have often wondered what is in the Mahatma's mind. Of course, he has been an intolerable nuisance since the beginning of the war. On the other hand, I do not believe that he wants our enemies to win this war... what he is really concerned to do is to maintain his nuisance, and his bargaining value at as high a level as possible, with a view to the post-war discussions. . .his desire is to keep the pot simmering but not boiling."

The other, more pressing, reason for seeking the cooperation of political parties for the war effort was to expand the numbers and to preserve the loyalty of the army, the ultimate bulwark of Empire. Hence the Viceroy began talks with Indian leaders to probe their terms for supporting the British. The attitude of Gandhi, who said that he contemplated the present struggle 'With an English heart', 'could not have been better'. . .Linlithgow knew that Indian parties would require political concessions in return for their support of the war effort. Jinnah hoped to extract from the Viceroy a promise that the British would jettison the idea of federation. The working of provincial autonomy had shown how 'Hindus' would behave if they were in a majority, and the Congress ministries should be turned out 'at once'.

Linlithgow, however, saw no reason to give up the idea of federation and majority rule altogether. Jinnah's hold over the provincial Muslim Leagues was insecure; and his demand was probably a tactic to keep the Muslim League in tow, especially as Sikander Hyat Khan and Fazlul Huq had already promised the British unconditional support for the war effort against his wishes, and his disposition to bargain. . . .

As a 'public man who had to think of his followers', Jinnah had to tread a path that would preserve unity as well as his own authority within the League. He now placed his cards on the table. 'If ... Britain wants to prosecute this war successfully, it must take Muslim India into its confidence through its accredited organization- All-India Muslim League. . . . Muslims want justice and fair play'.

Coming as it did after a combative Congress resolution, Jinnah's statement seemed to the Viceroy 'not on the whole unsatisfactory'. While avoiding the impression of meddling in the politics of the Muslim community, Linlithgow's endeavour 'obviously must be to do all that I can do to get all sections of the Muslim community into line behind us.'

In the Congress Working Committee, Gandhi was alone in suggesting unconditional support for the British on a non-violent basis. The Congress resolved on 14 September 1939, that the issue of war and peace 'must be decided by the Indian people, and no outside authority can impose this decision upon them, nor can the Indian people permit their resources to be exploited for imperialist ends.' The British government was invited 'to declare in unequivocal terms what their war aims are in regard to democracy and imperialism and the new world order that is envisaged; in particular, how these aims are going to apply to India and ... be given effect to in the present.'

In response to the Congress demand for a declaration of British war aims, Linlithgow thought the British should reiterate 'that we are not concerned with the form of government of particular countries; that what we are concerned to ensure and achieve is in the first place the restoration of good faith and confidence in dealings between nations: in the second place the discharge of our treaty obligations.' If the Congress was going to show itself 'entirely intransigent,' and if it became clear that Congress ministries would continue in office only 'at the price of promises or immediate concession which you[Amery] and I are not in a position to make, it may appear expedient to call an all-parties conference, at which the hollowness of the Congress claim to speak for India would very soon be exposed.'

So, although Gandhi told him that what was needed was a declaration 'of a satisfying kind, rather than a great deal in the field of action,' the Viceroy told him that there was no prospect of amending the Act of 1935 at that stage. 'I added that it was not a question of fighting for democracy... to which I did not think that His Majesty's Government had ever committed themselves in the slightest degree'. A consultative liaison group could be set up-and the British cabinet only agreed to this slight concession after Linlithgow had assured them that such a Committee would have no chance at all to entrench itself too deeply in the machinery of government.

Nevertheless, Linlithgow still hoped to woo the Congress into cooperation with the war effort. They were after all the largest and most important party in British India and were responsible for the governments of nine provinces, and the British should be ready to turn to their advantage such readiness as the Congress Right might show to work with them. Linlithgow regarded the 'nuisance value of Congress, if they turn against us, as very substantial. . . Commander-in-Chief agrees with me, that they have it in their power in that event largely to cripple our capacity to exert our maximum strength in the war'. So it was worthwhile to take some risk to secure the support of the Congress.

In the light of the Congress attitude, meanwhile, the Muslim League resolution of 18 September had given the Viceroy what he badly needed to resist Congress demands. The League offered its support for the war effort if the Viceroy would take its leaders into confidence and accept the League as 'the only organisation that can speak on behalf of Muslim India.' In contrast to Congress, the League was not interested in an independent, united and democratic India: it resolved that such a system was 'totally unsuited to the genius of the peoples of this country which is composed of various nationalities and does not constitute a national state.'

If the League's resolution was aimed at frustrating a possible settlement between the Congress and the British, it succeeded. Zetland decided that the British could not meet Congress demands, and, in the present situation, they should avoid offering them any concession which might antagonize the League.

Although most Congress leaders were put off by the Muslim League resolution, in an attempt to draw the League into a united nationalist front, they offered an impartial enquiry into Muslim grievances against their ministries. Jinnah's rejection of this olive branch seemed to have 'practically barred the door' to any settlement.

Nevertheless, mindful of the need for unity among Indian parties at this time, Nehru and Azad still hoped to bring Jinnah to terms, and were willing to discuss any Congress-League differences with him. At the Nehru-Jinnah talks between 16 and 18 October 1939, it was obvious that the real difference between the two men lay in their attitude to the British. Jinnah wanted the Congress to give up its anti-imperialist policy. According to Nehru, 'On no account did he[Jinnah] countenance any action on our part which might lead to a conflict with British Government(sic)... under the circumstances he felt that unless this matter was cleared up, other important questions did not arise'.

Meanwhile, Linlithgow was frustrated both with the political deadlock and with the British government's failure to define their political objectives-'that is, if H.M.G.. know what their political objectives are.' He knew that the statement which he had been authorized to issue would not satisfy the Congress. The Viceroy stated that, for the time being, the British would not define their war aims, but they would be willing to consult with representatives of different communities, parties and interests in India and with the Indian princes to discuss constitutional reforms for India after the war. The Viceroy added that representatives of minorities had urged most strongly on him the necessity of a clear assurance that full weight would be given to their views and interests in any modifications that might be contemplated. This assurance the Viceroy readily gave.

The statement fell far short of Congress demands, and there was little hope of winning the party's cooperation in the war effort. Rajendra Prasad regretted that 'a great opportunity has been missed.' Jinnah hastened to make political capital out of the Viceroy's statement, exaggerating the strength of his position. The MLWC claimed that the British Government had 'emphatically repudiated the unfounded claim of the Congress that they alone represent all India. . .'. Referring to Linlithgow's assurance that the British would not ignore representatives of minorities, the resolution noted with satisfaction, though, as British officials acknowledged, not very accurately, 'that his(sic) Majesty's Government recognise the fact that all the All-India Muslim League alone truly represents the Muslims of India and can speak on their behalf...'. Accordingly, the Working Committee empowered Jinnah, as President of the League, to assure Britain of Muslim support and cooperation during the war.

Linlithgow was relieved at the Muslim League resolution, while noting that it would be wrong to assume 'that the present Moslem attitude will long persist. Their platform is essentially anti-national and anti-democratic, and I feel sure their younger leaders will soon grow restive about a policy so utterly sterile. I therefore do not regard Moslem support as something upon which, by itself, we can safely afford to build any long term policy.'

Linlithgow's feelings about the Congress remained ambivalent. 'It would be much easier to deal with the situation that confronts us had the Congress claims not been pitched so high. 'A few days later, after the League had resolved that the 'entire problem of India's future constitution... be considered "de novo",' Linlithgow concluded that the safeguards for Muslims which were demanded by the League were 'quite incompatible with any relaxation of British control over India'. Congress leaders accused the British of using Congress-League differences as an excuse to avoid political advance. Zetland's speech in the House of Lords on 18 October had been a pointer to British policy in the days to come. Linlithgow later agreed that the policy of the League could be criticized as 'the sole, or most important' obstacle to the achievement of Indian independence, while Jinnah himself admitted that his attitude was exposing him to a very formidable indictment-that he was a supporter of imperialism.

Samuel Hoare's speech in the House of Commons on 28 October ensured that the political stalemate would persist. Partly conciliatory, partly admonitory, he pointed to the absence of unity amongst Indians themselves as the main obstacle to Dominion Status. The Congress, he insisted, should join the Viceroy's consultative committee. The alternative was non-cooperation, which would lead to civil disobedience, to breaches of law and order and repression. For the Congress, Rajendra Prasad concluded that Hoare's speech 'has not carried anything further. . .there does not seem to be any intention of parting with the power(sic) at present to any extent and making definite promise(sic) of doing so at the end of the war.' There was thus 'no point of contact.' As a result, on 30 October 1939, the CWC ordered the Congress ministries to resign.

The Congress decision to withdraw from office deprived Jinnah and the League of their chief weapon of attack against it-the Muslim grievances against Congress ministries. On the other hand, Linlithgow was now all the more dependent on the League as a counterpoise to the Congress. Dismayed by the Congress attitude to the war effort, the Viceroy shaped his policy in an attempt to attract both the Congress and the League into his Council, while discouraging them from uniting against the British. On 1 November, at a meeting with Jinnah, Prasad and Gandhi, he placed a veto on political advance in Jinnah's hands by stipulating that there could be no agreement about the centre unless the two parties came to an agreement about the provinces. No such agreement was possible in November 1939. The Congress could not contemplate any coalition with Jinnah unless he clarified his position on the Viceroy's broadcast of 18 October.

Congress leaders, of course, were dismayed that Linlithgow was encouraging the pretensions of the League to put off the question of independence, but decided that there was little use talking further to Jinnah. While he could rely on the British so much, the Congress could do nothing to satisfy him. Jinnah would exploit the situation to ask for even more than the British were willing to give or guarantee. Therefore, Congress leaders inferred, there would be no limit to his demands.

Linlithgow was gratified at Jinnah's refusal to support the Congress demand for a declaration of British war aims. Summing up the British position, the Viceroy observed that had the British been confronted with a joint demand, 'the strain upon me and upon H.M.G.. would have been very great indeed.' At the same time, Linlithgow was aware of the intrinsic weakness of Jinnah's political position. 'I thought... I could claim to have vested interest in his position, and I have been asking myself how far that position was intrinsically sound. But I was bound to confess that I did not like it.' The 'eroding effect of nationalism' on Jinnah's platform was likely to be swift and serious. Jinnah was also unreliable, and Linlithgow feared 'a volte face of the most drastic character at the shortest notice' during their discussions with Gandhi. Jinnah's demands were exorbitant, and there was no case for abandoning federation and the principle of majority rule altogether. But the wise course would be to give him brief and reassuring replies, 'and to give even fuller weight than we may have done in the past in such public statements as you and I may have to make on Indian policy generally'. Apparently, the Viceroy did not think much of the chances of Muslim political communalism standing up against Congress nationalism at the end of 1939.

. . .Jinnah adopted a strategy to keep anti-Congress feeling high. He called on Muslims to observe 22 December as 'the day of deliverance and thanksgiving as a mark of relief that the Congress Governments have at last ceased to function.' The call surprised many of his own party, for Muslims in the NWFP and Bengal thought that he had fallen back on a low form of politicking. Deliverance Day passed itself passed off quietly in most places, and 'fell very flat' in the Muslim majority provinces of Sind and the NWFP, but naturally it infuriated Congress leaders. 'There is a limit even to political falsehood and decency but all limits have been passed', wrote Nehru. 'I do not see how I can even meet Jinnah now.'

In December 1939, Huq published a series of articles in the League press, and in January 1940, the Bihar Muslim League brought out a report on the grievances of Muslims in Bihar under Congress ministries, on lines similar to those of the Pirpur Report of 1938. In reply the Congress suggested an inquiry into the charges by a federal judge, which Jinnah refused. An impartial inquiry perhaps would have deprived the allegations of their propaganda value for the League. Instead he asked for a Royal Commission to investigate the charges, knowing that the Congress would not agree, as it would have implied acquiescence in British intervention in Indian affairs.

The Viceroy saw little substance in Jinnah's charges, but, as he had commented earlier, 'the existence of the atmosphere is the thing that matters and the thing to which we have to give weight in formulating our policy and reaching our conclusions.' British officials maintained a deliberate silence about their opinion of the League's exaggerated charges against Congress ministries, while Sir Hugh O'Neill, Under Secretary of State for India, announced in the Commons that no inquiry could be held into the allegations as no purpose would be served by it.

Jinnah replied that O'Neill's statement had imposed 'an additional task upon us.' The charges against Congress ministries must be investigated in order to prevent a recurrence in future. By repeating his demand for an enquiry, Jinnah, with some help from the British, kept alive 'Muslim sufferings' under Congress rule.

Evidently Jinnah did not want a settlement with Congress. When Linlithgow asked him if he would be able to settle with Congress if the British assured him that no constitutional departure would be made without the approval of the League, he replied, '"But what have you to lose if no agreement is reached?"' And so the political impasse continued.  The British had no intention of giving way to Congress demands, and noted the disparity between the personal friendliness of Congress leaders and their politically tough attitude. Both Linlithgow and Whitehall stood firm. The Act of 1935 had been passed not to terminate the Empire but to preserve it. The War Cabinet turned down Zetland's proposal for any concessions to Congress, insisting that talk of 'independence within the Empire' should be avoided in favour of 'autonomous communities within the Empire.' Such terminology was less likely to imply the right of secession from the Empire. As long as the Congress and League remained divided, the Viceroy could mark time and wait until the pieces on the political chess-board had take their place.

While the British ruled by ordinance, introduced press censorship, and rounded up Congressmen in many places, the Congress Working Committee, meeting at Patna on 1 March 1940, discussed the possibility of civil disobedience as soon as organization permitted and circumstances demanded. The Ramgarh Congress  on 20 March reaffirmed the Patna resolution. Freedom could not exist within the orbit of British rule, and the Congress could not be a party to the war without British guarantees for a Constituent Assembly based on adult suffrage and independence. For Congress, there could be no solution to the communal problem except through the Constituent Assembly, where the rights of minorities would be protected by agreement between the representatives of various communities.

The political stalemate was also worrying Jinnah. His platform of blank negation was wearing out, for the Congress resolutions at Patna and Ramgarh were passed in spite of League hostility and its intensification of communal tension over the last three months. Even Linlithgow was tiring of Jinnah's tactics and had advised him to formulate constructive suggestions for a political settlement.  Jinnah sulked at the British refusal to break with Gandhi, and warned Linlithgow 'not to sell the pass behind their [League's] backs.'  In Bengal, Huq as engaged in one of his intermittent flirtations with the Congress; and in the NWFP, the possibility of an intercommunal ministry appeared imminent. Muslim Leaguers  themselves were urging Jinnah to define the party's goals; some even suggested a Congress-League pact. . .

Against this background, on 23 March 1940, the Muslim League passed its celebrated 'Pakistan' resolution at Lahore. . . .The Aga Khan and Muhammed Iqbal were among the first to moot the idea of a Muslim homeland, and the term "Pakistan" as coined by Chaudhury Rahmat Ali, a student at Cambridge, in 1933. In the summer of 1939, Sikander Hyat Khan had published a scheme for the loosest of federations, with regional or zonal legislatures to deal with common subjects. In January 1940, Dr. Abdul Latif of Hyderabad had outlined a plan for a minimal federation of homogenous cultural zones. In March 1939, Khaliquzzaman had discussed the possibility of partition with Zetland and in September Jinnah had suggested it to Linlithgow as a political alternative to federation. In February 1940, Aurangzeb Khan, provincial League leader in the NWFP, told Cunningham that the League proposed to press for a Muslim homeland in the northwest and northeast of India in direct units with the Crown. On 4 March, Jinnah told Edward Benthal, Finance Member of the Viceroy's Executive, that Muslims would not be safe without partition, and twelve days later, he told Linlithgow that if the British could not resolve the political deadlock, the League would have no option but to fall back on some form of partition.

That Jinnah envisaged a sovereign Pakistan was clear from his assertion at Lahore, that 'The problem of India is not of an intercommunal character, but manifestly of an international one and must be treated as such.' By international, as Professor Mansergh points out, he meant literally  as between nations. The demand for a sovereign Pakistan answered both Linlithgow's criticism that he was unconstructive, and the indictment that he was not supporting the Congress demand because he was on the imperial side. . . .[E]ven if the demand was mere tactics, the tactics must have been aimed at achieving something or preventing something. Prevention would surely be of a Congress-British agreement bypassing the Muslim League. In that case, Jinnah, as we have seen, preferred the prevalence of the differences between them and the maintenance of the status quo, that is, the continuation of the Raj.  On the other hand, if he wanted to achieve something, why not a sovereign Pakistan? . . .A man of Jinnah's political shrewdness and dialectical skill might have calculated that, from political expedience, the British would not reject the possibility of Pakistan, because the very existence of the idea would help them to repudiate the Congress demand for independence.

Jinnah calculated correctly. On 23 March 1940, Linlithgow wrote that the British should mark time.  To the Viceroy, the Lahore resolution was the answer to Patna and Ramgarh, showing 'how deep is the gulf and how little the prospect of these two parties getting together in the present circumstances.' On 9 April, the War Cabinet decided that the Lahore resolution had 'complicated' the situation and that it was difficult for the Viceroy to announce any positive policy. On 18 April, Zetland stated in the House of Lords that agreement among Indian communities was essential if the vision of a united India was to become a reality, and added that the British could not force a constitution on the Muslims. This statement could only be interpreted as an indication that partition would henceforth be one of the options to be kept open by the British in India. Indeed, on 8 April, Linlithgow had cautioned Zetland against overemphasizing the unacceptability of the Pakistan scheme-'it would be politically unfortunate'-and it 'might be pressed' after the war.

...[The Lahore resolution] hoisted the banner of Muslim separation, at least partly because the British chose to ignore nationalist Muslim opinion, and dealt only with Jinnah 'on the Muslim side'[Linlithgow to Amery, 14 May 1940]

After giving up all hope of agreement with the League, the majority of the CWC persuaded Gandhi that the Congress must embark on civil disobedience. Action was necessary to avoid demoralization in Congress ranks; the problem of civil disobedience against a background of communal tension had been known even at the time of passing of Patna and Ramgarh resolutions...

The German invasions of Holland and Belgium on 10 May, and the British withdrawal  from Dunkirk on 27 May, exposed Britain to a possible German attack. England faced the Axis singlehanded, and this fact was at least partly responsible for a changed role for India in the Imperial defence machine. India was of vital importance because of her resources, her manpower and the economic potential east of Suez. . . On 27 June, Parliament passed the India and Burma Emergency Provisions Act providing 'in the event of a complete breakdown of communications with the United Kingdom' for the Governor General to take over the powers normally exercised by the Secretary of State. 'I am quite clear that the point has been reached in the prosecution of the war at which it is unsound and unsatisfactory and likely to prove increasingly difficult in terms of public reaction, that we should continue at the Centre to handle matters through an entirely bureaucratic government,' wrote Linlithgow to Amery on 1 July.

In these circumstances, the CWC made another offer on 3 July. If the British would acknowledge that the complete independence of India was the only solution to the political deadlock, the Congress would join a provisional National Government, formed of representatives of all parties. Only such a government, Congress claimed, would be able to organize effectively the material and moral resources of India for defence. The Working Committee disagreed with Gandhi's emphasis on non-violent cooperation. 'We know that arms and ammunitions have not been able to save the freedom of France, Holland, Belgium and Norway but we also that that human nature. . . is not prepared to give up force. . . Mahatma Gandhi has to give the message of non-violence to the world and, therefore, it is his duty to propagate it, but we have to consider our position as the representatives of the Indian Nation meeting in the Indian National Congress. The Indian National Congress is a political organization pledged to win the political independence of the country. It is not a institution for organizing world peace.' Gandhi would go his way, but the Congress would co-ordinate its activities with him whenever possible.

The British Cabinet, however, frowned on the Viceroy's proposal for a British constitutional initiative, especially as the Congress and League had yet to reconcile their differences. An indignant Churchill, seeing the correspondence between the Viceroy and the Secretary of State for the first time, rejected Linlithgow's suggestion that the cabinet promise in advance to frame at the conclusion of the war, a constitution in which representatives of the principal Indian parties would agree. It was also quite impossible to pledge in advance the attitude of a future parliament, and to fix a date for India to achieve Dominion Status. The cabinet agreed merely to an enlarged Executive Council and the setting up of a War Advisory Committee.

This was the background to the "August Offer", which the Congress turned down even as it was published in the press. There was no suggestion of a National Government and therefore no scope for further discussion. Even Rajagopalachari, who had framed the Poona Congress resolution for a National Government, was one of the first to reject the Offer.

The League was apparently satisfied with the British stipulation in the August Offer of consultation with the minorities in any future constitutional discussions, and its assurance that they would not transfer their 'responsibilities' to any government whose  authority 'is directly denied by large and powerful elements in India's national life.' This meant that the British would ignore the Congress demand for independence. The demand for a sovereign Pakistan had served at least one of Jinnah's aims: to ensure that the League was not ignored in any settlement between the Congress and the British.  Not surprisingly, the MLWC now allowed Leaguers to join war committees. Probably this also signified a concession to loyalists like Sikander and Huq, who had earlier defied Jinnah's orders banning Leaguers from serving on war committees.

But the British had not accepted Pakistan; nor had they accepted the League's claim to be treated as an equal of the Congress in any constitutional discussions. So the League rejected the August Offer on the ground that it had not been offered 'equal partnership' at the centre and in the provinces in return for cooperation with the war effort. The logic of the League's claim to parity and recognition by the British as the 'sole' representative of Muslims demonstrated the seriousness of Jinnah's call for a sovereign Muslim state. Concession of parity by the British would mean their acceptance of the Muslim claim to nationhood, the League the equal of the Congress, with an equal claim to the spoils of a transfer of power.

Conversely, if the British accepted the contention that Muslims were a nation, they must accord them parity. This logic rationalized Jinnah's persuasion of his working committee to reject the August Offer. The majority of the MLWC wanted to accept it, but deferred to Jinnah's warning that full cooperation would mean that the entire burden of responsibility for protecting the Indian empire, crushing the Congress, supplying men and money and running the administration would fall on the League. If the Congress decided to cooperate, the British would reject the Pakistan scheme. So he counseled patience with a view to extracting as many concessions as possible.[Author's annotation:This account is based on FR(fortnightly report) for Bombay for first half of September 1940, HP file no. 18/9/40; and [Foundations of Pakistan: All India Muslim League Documents, ed. S. S.] Pirzada, p. 403]. That Jinnah's word prevailed points to his ability to get his way, responsible in no small measure for his hold over the all-India Muslim League.

'It is lamentable that we should have to await in this way on Jinnah's vanity, but it cannot of course be helped,' wrote Linlithgow to Amery on 5 September[1940]. His demand that the League should be taken into full and equal partnership with the British in the running of the country was absurd. At the same time, it was important to hold the League together, 'and in those circumstances there is nothing for it but to be patient with Jinnah.' But there was no response from Jinnah, who dashed Linlithgow's hopes of his full cooperation, and by October, the offer had been put into cold storage.
(end quotes)

M.A. Jinnah summarized his responses in connection with the "August Offer" in the All-India Muslim League session in early 1941. Also in that session, the constitution of the Muslim League was brought in line with the Lahore Resolution and every member of the League was henceforth required to take an oath of allegiance to Pakistan.  The League's demand to be the sole spokeman of all India's Muslims,  their demand for a separate territorial state Pakistan, and the requirement of an oath of allegiance to Pakistan, all juxtaposed together amounted to(according to me) direct infringement upon the political rights of those Muslims who would be left behind in the partitioned Indian state.
(end comment)
All India Muslim League Twenty-Eighth Session, Madras, April 1941

Presidential Address of M. A. Jinnah
(excerpts)[More excerpts here]
. . .
The Muslim League Position
The next thing is the war. It is really an overbearing and overriding factor to be considered. What is the position  that the League should come to? . . .

His Excellency the Viceroy asked me to go and see him in July 1940. This was a note submitted by me that no pronouncement or statements should be made by His Majesty's Governmentwhich would in any way militate against the basic and fundamental principles laid down by the Lahore Resolution for the division of India and creating Muslim States in the North-Western and Eastern Zones. It may be stated that the ideal has now become the universal faith of Muslim India.  His Majesty's Government must give a definite and categorical assurance to the Muslims of India that no interim or final Constitution will be adopted by the British Government without the consent and approval of Muslim India.

In view of the rapid developments in Europe, and of the grave danger that is facing India, it is fully realized that everything should be done that is possible to mobilize all resources of India for the purpose of maintaining internal security, peace and traquillity, and to war off external aggression. But this can only be done provided the British Government are ready and willing to associate Muslim leadership as an equal partner in the Government, both at the Centre and in the Provinces. In all provinces Muslim leadership should be fully treated as an equal and an equal share in the authority and control of the Government, Central and Provincial.

Provisionally, during the period of the war, the following steps should be taken to comply with the formal co-operation with Government, with an equal share in the authority of Government. Now I want you to follow this. What is it that we suggested in July 1940? Is it that the Executive Council of the Viceroy should be enlarged within the  framework of the present Constitution and existing laws? No, it should be settled by further discussion, it being understood that Muslim representation be equal to that of the Hindus, if the Congress comes in; otherwise they should have the majority of the additional numbers, as it is obvious that the main burden and responsibility will be  borne by the Muslims in that case.

Then we said that in the Provinces where Section 93 operates, non-official advisers should be appointed. The number should be fixed after discussion, and the majority of the non-official  advisers should be representatives of Muslims. Where Provinces can be run by a combination of parties, naturally it will be for the parties concerned to adjust the matter by agreements. Then we suggested a war council which was mainly intended to give a share and a place of status to the Indian Princes and States for the purpose of intensifying war efforts and prosecuting the war successfully, because it would not come in the Executive Council of the Governor General. . . .
(end quote)
Discussion on Resolution II
Moving Resolution II on the amendment to the Constitution[of the Muslim League], Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan said: We are altering our creed to-day and bringing it into line with the Lahore Resolution, popularly known as Pakistan. Our experience has convinced us that one Federation for the whole of India would create chaos, is impracticable and would lead to the domination of one community over the rest of India. It would never be acceptable to the Muslims.

He declared that Pakistan had become their article of faith, and amendment now before the House would be an effective reply to those who had alleged that it was merely a counter for bargaining. Another implication of the amendment was that every Muslim who was to join the League from now onwards would have to take an oath of allegiance to Pakistan. Explaining the amendment, he said that the safeguards for the non-Muslims in Pakistan would be framed in consultation with the minorities and would not be imposed on them. It should be evident, he said, that our aim and object is to do justice to all. "Those who want India to be free should accept Pakistan, which will lead to the freedom of all", he added. The amendment was supported by speakers in English, Urdu and Tamil.
(end quotes)


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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