Provincial Assemblies Elections
By February 1946 it became very clear that Muslim League candidates were winning in almost all the provinces against the Muslim seats. This democratic victory further strengthened Jinnah in forcefully putting forward the demand for Pakistan. On February 13, 1946 The New York Times published Jinnah’s statement as “Mr. Jinnah’s threat of civil war” in which Jinnah called upon the British to establish Pakistan without any further delay. He also called for determining of the boundaries of Pakistan and Hindustan. He also called upon the Congress leaders to accept Pakistan from the core of their hearts.1 If they are not going to accept Pakistan “Jinnah threatened civil war”.2 He also spoke against the idea of appointing a single constitution-making body.
Nominations for seats in eleven provincial assembly elections were to be filed during December 12, 1945 to March 4, 1946, as each province was given a different date. The polls were to be held between January 9-April 12, 1946. There were 482 seats reserved in eleven provincial assemblies for the Muslims. When the elections were held 429 seats were won by the Muslim League candidates. Thus, the Muslim League victory in the provincial assembly election was about 89%.
With the exception of NWFP (now KP) and Assam, the Muslim League’s victory in the provincial elections was overwhelming. Even in NWFP the position was complicated. Of the 38 seats reserved for the Muslims 19 were won by the Congress nominated Muslims. The Muslim League received 17 seats. Two seats were won by the candidates of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind. As far as the percentage of Muslim votes cast for the Muslim seats is concerned, the Congress candidates secured the support of 130,975 or 39.24 per cent of the votes whereas the Muslim League candidates got the support of 147,380 or 44.7 per cent of the votes, and Jamiat-ul-Ulema secured the support of 5.3 per cent of the seats. Although the Ahrars, Khaksars and Independents contested elections in the NWFP but they got no seats.
Nawab Mamdot, Leader of the Punjab Muslim League, in his interview with the Punjab Governor in March 1946 made it clear that he was in possession of 88 (73+5 independent +10 others) members of the Punjab Assembly. Despite that, the Muslim League was ignored by Glancy, the Punjab Governor who invited Khizr Hayat Tiwana to form his Ministry in the Punjab.
The Congress put up a stiff fight to the Muslim League candidates by putting proxy candidates against them. Jinnah told the Viceroy on March 18, 1946 that Congress spent two crore rupees in putting up candidates against the Muslim League.
Cabinet Mission Plan and the Direct Action (March-August 1946)
Having strengthened in these elections, Jinnah demanded that Pakistan should be established because majority of all the six Muslim majority provinces went in favour of the Muslim League candidates. During his dialogues with the British officials, Jinnah argued that there have been examples when the Great Powers have created nations just on the basis of their wishes. Citing the example of 14 Points of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the end of First World War (1914-1918), Jinnah argued in one of his dialogues, that 11 countries of Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Slovak, and Ukraine were created in East Europe in 1919 as a result of Treaty of Versailles without holding the elections. When six Muslim majority provinces voted for Muslim League which meant that they voted for Pakistan, the Muslim demand was all the more justified for the creation of Pakistan.
But here the case was different because the British Government was not ready to ignore the Congress leadership dominated by Gandhi and Nehru. It was with their consent that Cabinet Mission was appointed just for the purpose of delaying the cause of Pakistan and indulging in the prolonged dialogues and discussion so that the issue of Pakistan is confused. But here was Jinnah strongly backed by his party Muslim League, provincial leadership and Muslim National Guards. Without losing his temper, Jinnah was ready for the dialogue to whatever extent they may go.
The Cabinet Mission consisting of Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India, Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade, and Mr. A. V. Alexander, First Lord of Admiralty, reached Delhi on March 24, 1946. They started their dialogues with Jinnah, Gandhi, Nehru and other Hindu and Muslim leaders from different provinces during March-May 1947. Thus, marathon dialogues were held but without any result. The talks were held both in Delhi and Simla.
When all these efforts of the Cabinet Ministers and the Viceroy failed to bring about an agreement between “the two main parties”, they at their own, but with “full approval of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom”, announced in a press statement issued from New Delhi on May 16, 1946 that “an Interim government may be set up at once” to carry on the administration of the British India, and a Constituent Assembly be formed to frame the future Constitution of India on the basis of the following principles:3
a. Government of the Union of India embracing both British India and the States shall deal with the subjects of foreign affairs, defence and communications;
b. All subjects other than the Union subjects shall be under the purview of the provinces;
c. Any group or province shall have the authority to opt out of the Union after the lapse of 10 years with the consent of the majority of its legislature;
d. A federal legislature, which will also act as Constituent Assembly, shall be composed of 385 members (292 from British India and 93 from Indian States). 292 members from British India will be elected from three sections — A, B, and C. Section A will consist of 187 members coming from the provinces of Madras, Bombay, U.P., Bihar, Central Provinces and Orissa, Section B will consist of 35 members from the Punjab, NWFP, and Sindh (with a representative from the British Balochistan), while Section C will consist of 70 members from Bengal and Assam.
e. First job of the Constituent Assembly would be to frame the future Constitution of India. Thereafter, the provincial representatives will divide into three sections — A, B, and C, and proceed to settle the provincial constitutions. Provinces were authorized to opt out of the groups in accordance with sub-clause VIII which is as follows: “As soon as the new constitutional arrangements have come into operation, it shall be open to any Province to come out of any group in which it has been placed. Such a decision shall be taken by the new legislature of the province after the first general elections under the new Constitution.”
f. If the Union Constituent Assembly decided for the Transfer of Power, a Treaty between the United Kingdom and the Union Constituent Assembly will be negotiated.
No agreement between the British Government on one hand, and the Congress and the Muslim League leaders on the other hand could be reached, though some writers have tried to confuse the personality of Jinnah with reference to the Cabinet Mission Plan. All these are fallacies. The fact was that another Congress attempt in connivance with the British Cabinet Mission to target Jinnah’s idea of Pakistan and pave the way for united India’s freedom commanded and controlled by the Congress leadership. All these failed before the strong and farsighted leadership of Jinnah who realized that he was not a short-sighted leader who could refuse to have more dialogues. Rather, Jinnah exhausted them with the lengthy dialogues of a group of British and Congress leaders and all of them humbled before him.
On July 6-7, 1946 meeting of the All India Congress Committee was held at Bombay under the chairmanship of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who assumed his responsibility as President of the Congress as he had been elected to this position two months earlier. Azad, the outgoing President of the Congress, and Gandhi also attended this meeting. In his speech to this Working Committee meeting Gandhi pointed out that in not accepting the Cabinet Mission proposals the Congress had committed a grave error. He maintained that the better counsels would have demanded a better decision. But no one cared for Gandhi’s advice as Nehru was against it. Addressing a mass meeting of over one lakh people who had gathered at the flag salutation ceremony of the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee, Pandit Nehru declared that the Congress adhered to the policy of “Quit India” adopted in August 1942 and whatever decision the Congress took would be based on that policy. Thus with the assumption of charge of Presidentship of the Congress by Nehru, the Congress’ attitude again hardened which created an alarming situation both for Jinnah and the Muslim League. On July 9 Nehru announced the names of members of the new Congress Working Committee at the Bombay House of the Congress. This was done in the light of Congress’ decision a day earlier by Nehru for the formation of the Congress Volunteer Corps under Major General Shah Nawaz Khan of the Indian National Army to counter the Muslim League National Guards.
Direct Action Day
These developments were reviewed by the Council of AIML in its meeting in Bombay held on July 27-29, 1945 along with the Muslim League’s stand on the Cabinet Mission Plan. The session was largely attended by 460 members. Jinnah presided. In his opening address, he said that what had happened during the three-and-a-half months of constitutional negations had subsequently convinced him that the Muslim League had no other course left open to it but to depend on its own strength and to chalk out such a course which should make the establishment of Pakistan at the earliest possible time. On the question of British Cabinet Mission’s long term plan for India and the Constituently Assembly envisaged by it, the Quaid said that Congress’ acceptance of the plan and the Constituent Assembly had been conditional and not actually a full acceptance. It was the attitude of the Congress which had created the necessity of rescinding the decision of the League Council accepting the proposals. Regarding the Interim Government arrangement, Jinnah reiterated that the British Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy had gone back on their word and had abandoned what was announced as their final proposals in their statement of June 16, in their eagerness to “please the Congress”. Explaining the importance of this Council meeting, the Quaid emphasised on two points. One was to decide what new course the Muslim League should adopt with regard to the Cabinet Mission’s long term proposals, while the second purpose was to decide the League’s attitude to the proposals about the Interim Government. He referred to Nehru’s recent press conference in Bombay in which the latter was quoted as having said that the Congress was not bound either by paragraph 19 of the Cabinet Mission’s statement with regard to the final grouping of the province, or by paragraph 15. Jinnah considered these paragraphs as the main basis of the scheme on the basis of which the Muslim League accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan.4 It was precisely these paragraphs that were unequivocally repudiated by the Congress. Under paragraph 15, the provinces had the right to opt out only after the will of the people had been ascertained under the new Constitutions in Groups “B” and “C”. By repudiating these paragraphs, the Congress rejected not only the two basic provisions, but also the fundamentals of the scheme. Jinnah asked what was the remedy if the Congress and the Constituent Assembly went beyond their scope of the plan because the Congress had a majority in the Constituent Assembly as a whole. The Congress was hoping to take any decision it liked, ignoring, nullifying and repudiating the important parts of the scheme relevant to the Muslim interests, and thinking it could act in a manner which was ultra vires of the rights and functions of the Constituent Assembly.
Continuing, Jinnah charged the Cabinet Mission that like a drowning man ready to get hold of a straw, it treated this conditional acceptance by the Congress as genuine. They decided not only to propagate the view in this country but had created the same impression during the India debate in the British Parliament. Referring to Lord Pethick-Lawrence’s statement in the House of Lords that the Indian parties could not go outside the terms of what had been laid down, as this would not be fair to other parties, Jinnah said that this statement was a “pious” one. Nothing could be done if the Congress decided to go outside the plans laid down, Jinnah maintained. Regarding Pandit Nehru’s statement that the Constituent Assembly was a sovereign body, the Quaid said: “It is no use imagining things. The Constituent Assembly is not a sovereign body. Either we accept this view or not. If we accept that it is not a sovereign body, the only honourable course open to us is to treat it for what it is. It is an assembly summoned by the Viceroy, who had been appointed by the British Government. It is not going to be a sovereign body by any statement or show of bravado”.5 With reference to the Interim Government plan, Jinnah said that the Cabinet Mission and the Viceroy had gone back on their pledged word. Clause 3 of the statement of June 16 was based on the understanding that the Interim Government plan proposed by the Mission and the Viceroy was final and could not be changed. Jinnah emphasised that the Congress Working Committee had rejected both the long-term and short-term proposals of the Mission on the night of June 24. Early in the morning of June 25, Sir Stafford Cripps called on Gandhi and later in the day Lord Pethick-Lawrence had a talk with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. As a result of these meetings, Jinnah continued, the Congress had been persuaded to accept the long-term proposals with their own interpretations, on the assurance that the Interim Government proposals would be abandoned.
Jinnah’s Grave Charges against Viceroy Lord Wavell
Jinnah asked the Viceroy to give him explanations on these “grave charges”. That was why he had not proposed to the Viceroy the names of the Muslim League nominees for the Interim Government. He made it clear to the Viceroy that he would not submit any list until an agreement had been reached with the Congress. If no agreement was reached the Viceroy was bound to set up the Interim Government with the one party willing to work it. As the Muslim League was the first to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan, the Viceroy was duty bound to extend invitation to the Muslim League to form the government. If the Viceroy accepts this position, then he will submit the names of Muslim League nominees for the interim Government. He also warned the Congress that if it thought it could go into the Constituent Assembly by by-passing the League, it was welcome to do so. But the Muslim League would not be threatened by anything the Congress might do.
Jinnah’s position was legally and morally very right against which the Viceroy did not want to go, though the Viceroy had erred by inviting the Congress for the Interim Government. Jinnah was playing a fair game in politics because the Viceroy had announced immediately after the announcement of the Cabinet Mission Plan on May 16, 1946 that the Party who would first accept the Cabinet Mission Plan would be invited to form the Interim Government. Jinnah was the first person to accept the Plan, but the Viceroy did not honour his commitment.
Therefore, Jinnah was right in his conclusion that the Cabinet Mission had gone back on their pledged work and had played into the hands of the Congress. Under these circumstances, the Muslim League could not have any confidence in the Cabinet Mission or the British Government. The only course open to Jinnah to demonstrate against the wrong decision of the Viceroy. Such a decision would have to be taken by the Council of the League so as to prevent the British Government allowing itself to be influenced by the Congress. Despite the creation of a difficult position Jinnah called for patience and sober action on the part of Muslim League leaders: “Our motto should be discipline, unity and trust in the power of our own nation. If we do that, the Mission and the British Government be rescued, released and free from being cowed down by the threats of the Congress that they would launch a struggle and start non-cooperation.”6
After thorough deliberations for three days, the Council unanimously decided on July 29 to reject the Cabinet Mission Plan and resort to Direct Action. A comprehensive plan for the observance of Direct Action Day on August 16, 1946 was chalked out by the Muslim League Council.
Then Jinnah declared: “What we have done today is the most historic act in our history. Never have we in the whole history of the League done anything except by constitutional methods and by constitutionalism. But now we are obliged and forced into this position. This day we bid good-bye to constitutional methods”.7
Thus after the continuous struggle for ten years the League reached a “new phase” in its life. According to Jinnah’s strategy, the League had been fully mobilized to shun the constitutional method and adopt the unconstitutional method of Direct Action to achieve its objective of Pakistan. Was this a new idea emerging in the mind of Jinnah? No. It was not new. Since the beginning of his political career this idea was already in his mind. He expressed this idea after when he had opposed Gandhi’s ill-prepared non-cooperation movement in December 1920 to which Jinnah was opposed. At the dawn of the year 1921 Jinnah repeatedly expressed his idea of Direct Action which no one was ready to hear. Now the situation was ripe for the realization of Pakistan on the basis of Jinnah’s strategy. Hitherto, the Muslim League had been law-abiding; henceforth it would break laws. Whether it should take the form of non-payment of taxes or confine itself to the breach of one or more specified laws, how, when and where the defiance of authority should be undertaken, what arrangements were necessary to meet the consequences of Direct Action – these were some of the questions that were to be tackled by the Committee of Action.8
Seeing this threatening tone of Jinnah, the Viceroy approached the Congress circles to come and form the Interim Government without caring for the League to join it. The Viceroy informed of this intention to Jinnah on August 8, 1946. To ponder over the threatening situation caused by the League’s call for Direct Action, the Viceroy arranged a Governors’ Conference in Delhi on the same day. The consequences of Jinnah’s Call for Direct action in the provinces of Bengal, Punjab, United Provinces, NWFP and Sindh were particularly discussed. Various preparatory methods were also discussed in order to tackle the situation caused by the Direct Action.9
Before the Direct Action Day, Nehru had finalised the names of the members of Interim Government and submitted them to the Viceroy on August 15, 1946. By this the Congress was showing that they wanted to cooperate with the Government for crushing the League demonstrations in different cities of British India. Surprisingly, the Sikhs who had earlier declared not to join the Interim Government were persuaded both by the Government and the Congress, expressed their intention to join the Interim Government. The Sikhs were seemingly convinced on the understanding that both the Government and the Congress had decided to tackle the Muslim League in their demand for Pakistan.
Despite all these developments, Jinnah and the Muslim League went to observe August 16, 1946 as the Direct Action Day throughout British India. The way it was observed it amounted to showing of the Muslim strength for the cause of Pakistan for which they were ready to sacrifice everything of their life. At the start the British Government thought to tackle the situation as they had already tackled against the Congress leaders in 1942 when they announced their Non-Cooperation Movement in August 1942. The Government crushed the Movement by arresting majority of the Congress leaders and putting them in jail for two years including Gandhi. But here in case of Direct Action, the Government realized that the Muslim League agitation was so serious that it could not be tackled. Soon they had to come to dialogue with Jinnah. Some of the details of the Direct Action Day are mentioned here so as to give glimpse of the actual happenings.
Killings of Muslims in Bihar (October-December 1946)
The Direct Action Day on August 16, 1946 on the call of Jinnah, as President of the All India Muslim League created far-reaching effects not only on the British Government but also on the leaders of Indian National Congress, particularly Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other topmost leaders of the party. They decided to give the Muslims a lesson in a camouflaged manner. For that matter they selected Bihar province as the ideal place to stage that drama, particularly in those areas of the province where the Muslim population was scattered both in urban and rural areas. Though the events occurred of and on but in the months of October-December a mass scale killing of the Muslims happened.11 Nazimuddin’s Report came to the following conclusion:
The Congress’ versions of the situation in Bihar are given here. First, communal riots broke out in Chapra town in Bihar on October 27, 1946 resulting in 13 persons being killed and 40 other injured.13 Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, in his broadcast from Delhi on October 28 appealed to the people of India to end the communal strife and bring about a sense of peace and harmony which was essential for India’s progress.14 On October 28 the disturbances spread to other neighbouring villages. Troops were called out as a precautionary measure. The casualties increased to 23 and injured were 151. On October 29 the riot situation in Bihar was comparatively quiet, although a tense situation prevailed throughout the province. The same situation prevailed on October 30. The rioting situation developed on October 31 in Patna and Bhagalpur in which about 90 people were killed and 160 others were injured. The situation in Patna was tense on November 1, but the next day on November 2 minor disturbances were reported from the villages and rural areas of Patna. On November 3 mass scale disturbances were reported in Bhagalpur which continued for a couple of days. On November 5 Mahatma Gandhi announced to undertake a fast unto death if the communal riots did not stop in Bihar within the next 24 hours. As a result of these severe riots in Bihar against the Muslims, there were widespread riots in other parts of the country. It affected the whole of British India. On November 4, 1946 Arthur Henderson, Under-Secretary of State for India announced in the House of Commons that the total number of persons killed and injured in communal riots between July 1 and October 30 was estimated at 5018 killed and about 13320 injured and most of these disturbances were in East Bengal and Bihar. On November 6 people were killed on a mass scale in the whole of the Patna district in which more than hundred people were killed and many more were injured. The situation had become so severe that Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, came to Patna with Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar. Later, the Viceroy had discussions with Pandit Nehru and Dr. Rajendra Prasad. On November 9 Anugraha Narain Singh, Finance Minister of Bihar, said at Patna “what happened in Bihar was a continuation of the Calcutta killings and none cannot be considered separately from the other.”15
On November 3, 1946 Lord Wavell along with four members of the Interim Government visited Patna and had their meetings with the Chief Minister of Bihar, Anugraha Narain Singh and toured different affected areas. The Times of India even reported that 300 to 400 persons were killed in the recent disturbances in Patna.16 Dr. Rajendra Prasad along with the Congress President Acharya Kripalani visited Patna and some other areas of Bihar on November 5. By using the name of Gandhi, Dr. Prasad announced in Patna that if the communal riots did not stop in Bihar within 24 hours Mahtma Gandhi would “fast to death”. There were a number of reports that killing of Muslims was specially condemned in different parts of the country particularly by the Muslim leaders.17 On November 14 the Bihar Day was celebrated in Karachi by bringing out a big procession in the city.18
Jinnah was alive to all these developments and was closely watching them. As President of the All India Muslim League he had actually sent the high-powered Muslim League delegation along with the Viceroy to visit the affected areas. But the assessment of the situation was his own. He was neither influenced by the Congress propaganda nor by the exaggerated reports by the Muslims. Whatever he said was based on his own information based on newspaper reports, letters from Muslims from different corners of Bihar province, and by reports by the Muslim League leaders who visited Bihar. He even patiently read the reports of the Congress leaders appearing in different newspapers and some of them even met him privately to apprise him of the situation. He also met the Viceroy a number of times in which the Bihar killing issue was discussed along with its repercussions. In a statement issued from New Delhi on November 3 Jinnah stated: “I have been receiving reports of a very grave and serious character of killing and destruction of property from the Muslim minority provinces, such as Bihar, the U.P., the C.P., Madras and Bombay, and I assure the Muslims of the minority provinces that it was not due to indifference or neglect that I have been quiet. The matter is receiving my most careful attention and consideration.”19 In another statement of 11 November issued from Delhi, he said: “I know that the Muslims have suffered heavily and are suffering. But the tragedy of Bihar has eclipsed what is mere speech elsewhere. I condemn brutality in any shape or form, but the Bihar tragedy has no parallel or precedent in this record of cold-blooded butchery of the Muslim minority in the various parts of the country committed by the majority Hindu community.” He also expressed: “If you really want to achieve Pakistan, I pray to God that Muslim honour should not be sullied by inhuman, degrading and brutal happenings of the kind that have taken place in Bihar. We should not sink low in the scale of civilization, morality and humanity. While our hearts may bleed for the suffering we cannot sanction cowardly inhuman massacre of the innocent in other places where Muslims happened to be in majority.”20 For the purpose of assuring the non-Muslim minorities in the Muslim majority areas, Jinnah emphasized in the same statement: “We must prove politically that we are brave, generous and trustworthy, that in the Pakistan areas, the minorities will enjoy the fullest security of the property and honour, just as the Mussalmans themselves may, even greater. If the Muslims lose their balance and give vent to the spirit of vengeance and retaliation, and prove false to the highest codes of morality and preaching of our great religion, Islam, you will not only lose your title to the claim of Pakistan, but also it will start a most vicious circle of bloodshed and cruelty, which will at once put off the day of our freedom, and we shall only be helping to prolong the period of our slavery and bondage.” Thus Jinnah was not in favour of retaliation in the Muslim majority areas just as what happened in the Hindu majority areas of Bihar. He called for patience and forbearance for the purpose of “the achievement of Pakistan”.21 On November 17 Jinnah wrote to Lord Wavell in which he called upon the Viceroy to have a fair assessment of the situation of the Bihar killing of the Muslims. He was of the view that these killings of the Muslims were planned by the Congress government of Bihar deliberately. Therefore, he called upon the Viceroy: “I most earnestly urge upon you to concentrate upon the measures to be adopted and carried out first to protect life and property without delay. The entire machinery of the administration of the Government must immediately be concentrated upon establishing peace and tranquility and providing succor and help to those who are homeless, foodless, clothless, in need of medical help and wandering about in Bihar in thousands – the latest reliable estimates so far available are about 30,000 killed and 150,000 refugees – and further to see by every means how to avoid and prevent a recurrence of human slaughter in the future. This is your sacred duty and trust and I hope you will immediately impress upon His Majesty’s Government to take up this immediate task. In my opinion, therefore, you should announce immediately the postponement of the Constituent Assembly sine die and let us all forthwith concentrate every ounce of our energy upon restoring peace and order first.”
Jinnah Ignored and Congress Joins the Interim Government (August 1946)
By ignoring Jinnah and the Muslim League, on August 24, 1946 Lord Wavell announced at the Delhi Viceroy House the formation of Interim Government consisting of 14 members, names of 12 members announced and remaining 2 to be announced later. This included five Hindus, three Muslims, one representative each of the scheduled castes, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis.
On August 25, 1946 Jinnah issued a statement to the press regarding Viceroy’s broadcast in which he charged the Viceroy of violation of his agreement with him. Jinnah also asked the Viceroy, “Will the Viceroy explain why should there be any departure from those proposals and the assurances, that were given to us and for whose advantage is this new move being made by him?”22 Further commenting on Viceroy on August 26, 1946 Jinnah said: “The step the Viceroy has taken is more unwise and un-statesmanlike and is fraught with dangerous and serious consequences, and he has only added insult to injury by nominating three Muslims, who, he knows, do not command either the respect or confidence of Muslim India and two more Muslim names still remain to be announced”.23 He also termed this action of the Viceroy as a “blow to Muslim India”.24
British Government Forced to Induct Jinnah’s Persons in Interim Government (October 1946)
Jinnah’s statement “puzzled official quarters” in Delhi.25 The Viceroy sent copies of Jinnah’s statement appearing in the Statesman, and Hindustan Times, to Lord Pethick-Lawrence on August 28, 1946 so that the Secretary of State can make the British Cabinet aware of Jinnah’s tone and tenor. These statements of Jinnah were reported in The Times (London). The Congress leaders were also worried by Jinnah’s charges against the Viceroy. In order to deliberate on the issue Gandhi and Nehru met the Viceroy on August 27, 1946. For this purpose the Congress Working Committee meeting was held in New Delhi on August 28, 1946 in which various ways and means to tackle the League threat were discussed. Various Congress leaders also issued statements against Jinnah and the Muslim League. In his counter message of August 28, 1946 Jinnah promised “grim struggle ahead” for the Muslims. Muslim League was required to show its strength in the public.26 However, he appealed to the Muslims to remain united at that critical hour.
The British Government in London headed by Prime Minister Attlee felt perturbed by Jinnah’s aforesaid statement. They impressed upon the Viceroy to contact Jinnah. But before meeting Jinnah, the Viceroy discussed his strategy with Rajagopalachari and Jawaharlal Nehru on September 13, 1946, which was reported to the Secretary of State for India who in turn briefed the Prime Minister Attlee about all this. Thus Viceroy invited Jinnah on September 16, 1946. Both had an hour and a quarter meeting at the Viceroy House Delhi after which Jinnah was presented certain proposals which he promised to discuss in the Council of the Muslim League. It was with great tact and care that Viceroy tackled Jinnah as the following note suggested “Jinnah was quite friendly throughout, was polite, and much less discursive than he often is. In fact, he was at his best as I have known him on one or two occasions before. We have got a great deal of rough going in front of us, but this interview might certainly have been much worse.”27 By going through this report Lord Pethick-Lawrence wrote gladly to Wavell on September 21: “I am very glad your interview with Jinnah went so well and congratulate you on handling him so skillfully.”28 Jinnah discussed these proposals with the League leaders. On September 23 it was reported in the newspapers that Jinnah was “re-examining the political situation and considering the possibility of participation in the Interim Government and the Constituent Assembly, the League Committee of Action is going ahead with its plans for Direct Action.” However, the Government was anxiously “waiting” for Jinnah’s next “move”. After consulting the League’s Committee of Action, Jinnah met the Viceroy in Delhi on September 25. Then Jinnah, again, had his consultation with the League Committee of Action. On the other hand, the League’s Committee of Action which had been considering various pros and cons of the Direct Action since September 8 had by October 3, 1946 “completed” its plans for the Direct Action. In his letter to Viceroy on October 3, 1946 Jinnah sent his 9-point formula before the Muslim League Component Committee to join the Interim Government. After telegraphically consulting the Secretary of State for India, the Viceroy replied to Jinnah on October 4. Congress leadership was worried about these developments. They continued their efforts to persuade Jinnah for the purpose of joining the Interim Government.
It was in this background that Jinnah in his letter of October 14, 1946 proposed the following as five nominees in the Interim Government on behalf of the Muslim League which also included a Hindu scheduled caste member from the Muslim League quota:
1. Liaquat Ali Khan, Hon. Secretary, AIML, MLA (Central)
2. I. I. Chundrigar, M.L.A. (Bombay) Leader, Muslim League Party in the Bombay Legislative Assembly and President Bombay Provincial Muslim League.
3. Abdur Rab Nishtar, Advocate (NWFP) Member, Working Committee, AIML, Committee of Action and Council.
4. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, M.L.A. (Punjab), Member, Council of AIML, of Punjab Muslim League.
5. Jogendra Nath Mandal, Advocate (Bengal), at present Minister of Bengal Government.29
Thus, in October 1946, the Muslim League component joined the Interim Government. By making the Muslim League join the Interim Government, an effort was made by the Congress leadership and the British to make the Muslim League members join the Constituent Assembly of India. But Jinnah was thinking otherwise because if the Muslim League members had joined the Constituent Assembly, the cause of Pakistan would have been shelved. A lot of pressure on Jinnah was put by the Congress and the British Viceroy and other British officials. But Jinnah was determined not to allow his members join the Constituent Assembly. The issue became so serious that the British Government had to invite Jinnah, Nehru and others to London to discuss the matter.
(To be continued)
The writer is Ex-Director, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, and Professor at Quaid-i-Azam Chair (NIPS), Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]
1. Times of India, 14 February 1946.
3. Transfer of Power, Vol. VII, pp.582-91.
7. Ibid., p. 180.
8. Times of India, 31 July 1946.
9. Proceedings of the Conference of the Governors of Bengal, UP, Punjab, Sindh and NWFP, dated 8 August 1946 in Wavell Papers, Eur. Mss. D.977/7, British Library (OIOC), London.
10. Times of India, 16 August 1946.
11. ‘Report by Khwaja Nazimuddin & others’, in Z. H. Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers – League-Congress Deadlock 1 August 1946-19 February 1947, Vol. XIV, Quaid-i-Azam Papers Wing, Culture Division, Govt. of Pakistan, Islamabad, 2006, pp. 644-655. Other signatories of this report were Iftikhar Husain Khan Mamdot, President, Punjab Muslim League, Feroz Khan Noon, Member Working Committee of AIML, Mian Amiruddin, Mayor of Lahore, Daud Ghaznavi, and Mian Mumtaz Mohammad Daulatana, Member, AIML Committee of Action. The Committee had been appointed on orders from Jinnah as President, All India Muslim League, so as to know facts about the Bihar Muslim killings.
12. Ibid., p. 644.
13. Indian Annual Register 1946, vol. II, p. 40.
15. Ibid., pp. 43-44.
16. Times of India, 4 November 1946.
17. Times of India, 1-14 November 1946.
18. Times of India, 15 November 1946.
19. Times of India, 4 November 1946.
20. Indian Annual Register 1946, Vol. II, p. 209.
21. Ibid., p. 210.
22. Times of India, 26 August 1946.
23. Times of India, 27 August 1946.
25. Times of India, 28 August 1946.
26. Times of India, 28 August 1946.
27. Transfer of Power 1942-47, Vol. III, p.527.
28. Ibid., p.556.
29. Jinnah to Wavell, 14 October 1946, Nicholas Mansergh and Pendral Moon, The Transfer of Power, Vol. VIII, London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1979, p.726.
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