Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Cabinet Mission Plan
British rule and its tail-end haunt South Asians. Each country has its own version of history–clinging to their version of events. Despite thousands of books written on the events of 1946 and 1947, there is no consensus either about the events, or their motives. Investigating history is a dangerous endeavor in Delhi. Discussing Jinnah in Bharat (aka India) can be a career debilitating event for anyone. Expressing ones mind about the Pakistan movement can be dangerous to one’s vocation, specially if you are a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress Party of Bharat doesn’t go through the the periodic convulsions that the BJP goes through. Congress Party officials toe the “company line” on Jinnah. Mohammad Ali Jinnah is reviled by the party and his demonization is tought to school children all over Bharat who grow up hating the man, and the founder of Pakistan. Bharati history books are replete with condemnation of the man and his mission–focusing on rumor, innuendo and every trick in the book that tarnishes the image of one of the greatest politicians of our time. Why we created Pakistan? One Nation Theory vs Two Nation Theory:
There are no second opinions on Jinnah in India. All conflicting opinions are treated as treason and quickly stifled. By eliminating all shades of opinion about the Muslim League, the Bharati research establishment guarantees the same mistakes to be repeated again and again. Understanding Jinnah helps in understanding Pakistan and Pakistanis. Demonizing him creates hatred, bigotry and racism.
The history of Bharat focuses on “Direct Action Day” but doesn’t discuss the reasons leading up to the frustration of the Muslims of the Subcontinent. Bharatis learn about Gandhi’s fasting but see that the fast against the separate electorates denied the Dalits their right–for which they hate Gandhi forever. Why India’s Dalits hate Mohandas Gandhi?
The followers of Netaji, Subash Chandra Bose have no love lost for either Gandhi or for Nehru either. That is the reason Bose is marginalized in Bharati history. Critical Analysis of Jawaharlal Nehru by Subhas Bose
Jaswant Singh is right about the Cabinet Mission Plan. This according to Stanley Wolpert was an act of genius–the prefect solution for a multi-ethnic and multi-religious conglomeration of states of South Asia. The Congress led by Nehru and Gandhi could not accept the devolution of power in the hands of the people. Nehru and Gandhi would not give the Dalits and Scheduled classes separate electoral and elect their own leaders. Jinnah won the right to separate electorate for the Muslim. Dr. Ambadekar was close to the getting the same rights, but was blackmailed by Gandhi’s fast into giving up the right of separate electorate for th Dalits. Dr. Ambadekar later admitted that this was the greatest blunder of his life. By merging the Dalit body politics in the mainstream, the voting power of the Dalit and the Untouchables–and Mayawati tokenism aside, they remain enslaved. Nehru and Gandhi wanted to keep everyone under the diktat of the Brahman leadership.
As a result of the work of Jinnah, at least two thirds of the Muslim escaped the enslavement (see Sachaar Report), but the Dalits remain in bondage.
Mr. Singh’s epiphany about Jinnah’s character is echoed by in rare forthright admission of “The Times of India“ (TOI) which provokes its leaders with the following headlines “Jaswant’s view on Jinnah has scholarly backing“. But the TOI has it only partially right. The most accurate source on Mohammad Ali Jinnah is not Ayesha Jalal‘s critical analysis of the man. The best source of information on Jinnah is Stanley Wolpert (if you must have a gora as a source) and the Mohammad Ali Jinnah Foundation of Pakistan. The Pakistani historians, Salima Karim (Mohammad Ali Jinnah was not secular), Dani and others have meticulously researched every aspect of the life of the founder of the nation. Of course the research that portrays him in a good light is not sensationalized by triumphant Bharati media.
It is a lot easier to fall back to accept the stereotype of Jinnah than to see him for what he was, Asia’s most brilliant barrister who made a constitutional case for Pakistan and won his argument against Gandhi, Nehru, the entire Congress and the British Empire.
Ayesha Jalal, professor of history at Tufts University, has for long spoken about Jinnah’s failed quest to remain within a united India while guaranteeing the Muslim community equal rights.
Her book “The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and Demand for Pakistan” is widely regarded as the most definitive work on Jinnah and the circumstances that led to the creation of Pakistan.
“My understanding of Jinnah, and I have done substantial research on him, is that he never really abandoned the idea of a united India,” Jalal says in an upcoming documentary on Jinnah and the creation of Pakistan by US-based journalist Mayank Chhaya.
“A united India for him included a Pakistan. He invoked Pakistan based on the Muslim majority provinces of the northwest and northeast as a way of acquiring substantial amount of power at the all India centre,”Jalal says. Jaswant’s view on Jinnah has scholarly backing IANS 19 August 2009, 01:20pm IST. TOI.
Promulgated on 16 May 1946, the Cabinet Mission Plan would have created a united dominion of India as a loose confederation of of states:
A united Dominion of India would be given independence.
1) Group A: Muslim-majority provinces would be grouped – Baluchistan, Sind, Punjab and NWFP would form one group
2) Group B: Bengal and Assam would form another group.
3) Group C: Hindu-majority provinces in central and southern India would form another group.
4) The Central government would be empowered to run foreign affairs, defence and communications, while the rest of powers and responsibility would belong to the provinces, coordinated by groups.
6) Later iterations of f the plan called for A constituent Assembly consisting of 389 members – 292 from provinces, 4 from the territories governed by chief Commissioners and 93 from Indian Princely States – would draft the Constitution of India.
Jinnah and the Muslim League accepted the plan. Nehru and the Congress also accepted it but later rejected it. They could never accpect parity between the Muslims and the Hindus. The British government initially refused to call the Muslim League to form a government but under pressure of the Direct Action Day acquiesced.
- This map shows the struggle of the Muslims of South Asia. Continent of Dinia and dependencies Ch. Rehmat Ali map depicting Muslim rule in South Asia after the British left. The Muslim homeland that was part of the struggle for independence. Rehmat Ali and the Muslims wanted the region returned to Muslim rule as it was before the British arrived
In tracing the history of developments that she says led to the movement for Pakistan as a separate state, Jalal focuses on the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 whose mandate was to discuss the transfer of power from the British rulers to Indians as well as discuss the framing of the constitution.
In a sense the Cabinet Mission Plan was about “layered or shared sovereignty”, Jalal argues. She was referring to a three-tiered arrangement proposed in the plan which included a federal union of India, the grouping of provinces as the middle tier (which Jinnah supported) and provinces as the third-tier.
“Throughout the discussion of the Cabinet Mission the Congress Party was not willing to have the centre reduced to three subjects — defence, foreign affairs and communication. They wanted a broader vision.
“When Jawaharlal Nehru made his famous statement that there is nobody who can stop the Constituent Assembly from enhancing the powers of the centre and we do not believe in grouping, it became untenable for Jinnah to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan. It was at that point that you begin to see a movement for a Pakistan as a sovereign state,” Jalal explains.
She says what the Cabinet Mission gave Jinnah was “an option of a Pakistan that is based on a partition of Punjab and Bengal or remaining within the all India union with no necessary assurance of Muslim share of power at the all India centre. He accepted that, he accepted something less than a sovereign Pakistan.”
What made Jinnah “revert back to the idea of a sovereign Pakistan”, according to Jalal, was the rejection of the grouping by the Congress Party and once “it became clear that the Congress had no intention of sharing power”.
In Jalal’s telling, Jinnah was still “hoping against hope that the British will make an award and give him an undivided Punjab and Bengal”.
Jalal’s point that it was Nehru and the Congress Party that was unwilling to share power with Muslims tallies with what Jaswant Singh has said in his interview with a TV channel. “Nehru believed in a highly centralised polity. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity,” Singh has been quoted as saying. Jaswant’s view on Jinnah has scholarly backing IANS 19 August 2009, 01:20pm IST
So what was the Cabinet Mission Plan? Why is it still being discussed today about 63 years. We use exceprt from “The Story of Pakistan” (http://www.storyofpakistan.com) to summarize the Cabinet Mission Plan.
Cabinet Mission Plan (16 May 1946) The last viable attempt to come to a peaceful solution to Indian independence and partition. The Indian elections of 1945–6 were won in the Hindu-dominated constituencies by the nationalist Indian National Congress (INC), and in the Muslim-dominated areas by the Muslim League. This raised the issue of whether independence was to result in a united India (as favoured by the INC), or one divided into Hindu and Muslim areas (as demanded by the Muslim League). On 23 March 1946, three representatives of the Attlee Cabinet, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Stafford Cripps, and A. V. Alexander, went to India to find a solution. Their plan envisaged a three-tier government structure for a united India, with the lowest being the provincial level. The second tier would have created three zones consisting of the Muslim-dominated areas of the north-west and the north-east, and the Hindu-dominated rest of the subcontinent. Finally, the third tier bound these structures together into a loose federation. To lay to rest Muslim fears against Hindu domination, it provided also that after fifteen years, each individual zone was free to leave the union. Originally accepted by both parties, it was effectively scuppered by Nehru’s careless remark shortly afterwards, whereby he denied some of the Muslim rights negotiated so painstakingly, especially the right of the Muslim-dominated zones to secede after fifteen years. This killed off any residual goodwill with Jinnah, and led to India and Pakistan. Encyclopedia
1) The postwar Labour government in Britain was committed to independence for India. A second mission was sent to India by Prime Minister Attlee in 1946 for the preparation of independence. On 16 May this Cabinet Mission published a plan for transferring power to a united India, but over subsequent months it became clear that this plan would fail. The British Government therefore began to draw up alternative plans. It also appointed a new Viceroy Lord Mountbatten to take over from Lord Wavell who had failed to get the Indian parties to agree on any plan. In June 1947, Mountbatten announced that Independence would come at Midnight on 14 August 1947. British Library Archives
2) All of the British Government’s attempts to establish peace between the Congress and the Muslim League had failed. The results of the general elections held in 1945-46 served to underline the urgency to find a solution to the political deadlock, which was the result of non-cooperation between the two major parties. To end this, the British government sent a special mission of cabinet ministers to India.
3) The mission consisted of Lord Pethic Lawrence, the Secretary of State for India, Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade, and A. V. Alexander, the First Lord of the Admiralty. The purpose of the mission was:
- i. Preparatory discussions with elected representatives of British India and the Indian states in order to secure agreement as to the method of framing the constitution.
- ii. Setting up of a constitution body.
- iii. Setting up an Executive Council with the support of the main Indian parties
4) The mission arrived on March 24, 1946. After extensive discussions with Congress and the Muslim League, the Cabinet Mission put forward its own proposals on May 16, 1946. The main points of the plan were:
- a. There would be a union of India comprising both British India and the Indian States that would deal with foreign affairs, defense and communications. The union would have an Executive and a Legislature.
- b. All residuary powers would belong to the provinces.
- c. All provinces would be divided into three sections. Provinces could opt out of any group after the first general elections.
- d. There would also be an interim government having the support of the major political parties.
5) The Muslim League accepted the plan on June 6 1946. Earlier, the Congress had accepted the plan on May 24, 1946, though it rejected the interim setup.
The Viceroy should now have invited the Muslim League to form Government as it had accepted the interim setup; but he did not do so.
6) Meanwhile Jawaharlal Nehru, addressing a press conference on July 10, said that the Congress had agreed to join the constituent assembly, but saying it would be free to make changes in the Cabinet Mission Plan.
7) Under these circumstances, the Muslim League disassociated itself from the Cabinet Plan and resorted to “Direct Action” to achieve Pakistan. As a result, Viceroy Wavell invited the Congress to join the interim government, although it had practically rejected the plan. However, the Viceroy soon realized the futility of the scheme without the participation of the League. Therefore, on October 14, 1946, he extended an invitation to them as well.
8) Jinnah nominated Liaquat Ali Khan, I. I. Chundrigar, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Ghazanfar Ali Khan and Jogandra Nath Mandal to the cabinet. Congress allocated the Finance Ministry to the League. This in effect placed the whole governmental setup under the Muslim League. As Minister of Finance, the budget Liaquat Ali Khan presented was called a “poor man’s budget” as it adversely affected the Hindu capitalists.
9) The deadlock between the Congress and the League further worsened in this setup. On March 22, 1947, Lord Mountbatten arrived as the last Viceroy. It was announced that power would be transferred from British to Indian hands by June 1948.
10) Lord Mountbatten entered into a series of talks with the Congress and the Muslim League leaders. Quaid-i-Azam made it clear that the demand for Pakistan had the support of all the Muslims of India and that he could not withdraw from it. With staunch extremists as Patel agreeing to the Muslim demand for a separate homeland, Mountbatten now prepared for the partition of the Sub-continent and announced it on June 3, 1947.
Expressing his views on Hindu-Muslim relations in the twentieth century Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah observed:
“The Hindus and Muslims belong to two ifferent religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry, nor interdine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different.”
Many blame Jinnah for separating the Hindus and the Muslims. Most don’t understand that he adopted the Two Nation Theory from Sarawk and Haldi Ram who had espoused the “Shuddhi” (converstion), “Shangtram” (death and expulsion of all Muslim in Bharat.
Here is a quote from Dr. Ambedekar–the Dalit leader who defines “Pakistan” through Hindu eyes. Dr. Ambedekar quotes Haldi Ram.
“I declare that the future of the Hindu race, of Hindustan and of the Punjab, rests on these four pillars: (1) Hindu Sangathan, (2) Hindu Raj, (3) Shuddhi of Moslems, and (4) Conquest and Shuddhi of Afghanistan and the Frontiers. So long as the Hindu nation does not accomplish these four things, the safely of our children and great-grandchildren will be ever in danger, and the safety of the Hindu race will be impossible.
The Hindu race has but one history, and its institutions are homogeneous. But the Musalmans and Christians are far removed from the confines of Hindustan, for their religions are alien and they love Persian, Arab and European institutions. Thus, just as one removes foreign matter from the eye, Shuddhi must be made of these two religions. Afghanistan and the hilly regions of the frontier were formerly part of India, but are at present under the domination of Islam. . .
In an interesting book called “Birds of a feather flock together” by Anwar Shaikh the author says the following:
“The fact that the Indians did not have to fight the British for freedom, absolves them of the usually leveled charge of divide and rule. The British ruled several communities and they were politically and morally obliged to give a fair healing to all of them. It was the attitudes of mutual hatred, which contributed to the communal divisions, but came to be ascribed to the British. This is the truth that Gandhi described when he said:
….but if both of us – Hindus and Muslims – cannot agree on anything else the Viceroy is left with no choice .
It was not the British, who divided India: it is the Congress and the League that had agreed to partition as the solution and Mountbatten was not to blame” Gandhi assured
BOSTON: Years before veteran politician Jaswant Singh, who was expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday, a well-known historian here was championing Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s many admirable qualities, including his passion for a united India.
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