(Last Updated on : 20/09/2011)
Demand for Purna Swaraj was made by the Congress for the proper functioning of the India. The failure of the Cripps Mission brought about disappointment and the most dissatisfaction amongst the Indian leaders. He wanted to bring about a settlement between the Government and the Congress with remorseless efforts. But after the failure of the Cripps Mission the progress was impossible without an agreement between the Congress and the League. As a result, wide difference had developed between the Congress leaders and the Muslim League High Command, Jinnah. Nevertheless, on 23rd April 1942, Rajagopalachari managed to get two resolutions passed by the Congress members in the Madras legislature. One of the most vital of these resolutions required that the Congressmen should acknowledge the Muslim League`s claim for separation. Thus, negotiations started with the Muslim League for the `purpose of arriving at an agreement and securing the installation of a national government to meet the present emergency.
A major transformation in the country was seen after the passing of the resolution yielding the Muslim League`s claim for separation. Although, the Muslim League celebrated the occasion of acceptance of Pakistan, yet a feeling of resentment against Rajagopalachari was seen among the Congress leaders. The All-India Congress Committee rejected Rajagopalachari`s resolution by an overwhelming majority and adopted a counter-resolution. The resolution stated that `any proposal to disintegrate India by giving liberty to any component state or territorial unit to secede from the Indian Union or Federation will be detrimental to the best interests of the people of the different States and provinces and the country as a whole and the Congress, therefore, cannot agree to any such proposal.`
Gandhiji, on the other hand, started a series of articles in the Harijan and urged the British to ` Quit India`. Furthermore, the Congress put forth the resolution and demanded that British rule in India must end immediately. They stood resolute with their demand for Purna Swaraj. It was believed that the Congress demand for termination of British rule was required to settle the communal problem in the country. According to the Congress, effective resistance to foreign aggression is not possible till the British authority lasted. In addition to that, the latest decision of the Congress Working Committee on July 14, 1942 was to resolve to launch a mass movement if the British do not withdraw from India. The mass movement would coerce the British Government to concede a system of government and transfer power to that government, which would establish a Hindu Raj immediately under the guidance of the British.
On the issue of the demand for Purna Swaraj, the reaction of His Majesty`s Government was stiff and uncompromising. Congress demand of termination of British rule would completely disrupt the governmental machinery. After this incidence, the All-India Congress Committee met in Bombay on 7th August. It again approved that the Working Committee`s resolution demanded the immediate end of British rule. But in the early hours of 9th August, Gandhiji and the members of the Working Committee were arrested. Over the period of time, all important leaders of the Congress throughout the country had been taken into custody. Moreover, the Congress committees were declared unlawful associations by the British Government. The arrest of the Congress leaders brought about a serious disorder in the country. The Government however was ready and took firm steps to suppress the disturbances.
The Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha became more vocal after the arrest of the Congress Members. On 20th August a resolution was passed at Bombay by the Working Committee of the League. The resolution condemned the Congress civil disobedience movement as an instrument for forcing the British Government and Muslims to surrender to Congress dictation. The resolution also demanded from the British Government that an immediate declaration should be guaranteed to the Muslims the right of self-determination and a pledge.
The Conference passed long and detailed resolutions. These were forwarded to the Viceroy, recommending for the release of Gandhiji in the interests of the future of India and for the sake of international goodwill. However, the Government stood firm in his decision. Gandhiji ended his fast on 3rd of March. In addition to that the annual session of the Muslim League met in Delhi at the end of April. The main resolution regretted the Government`s failure to guarantee Muslim self-determination and warned the Government that the imposition of any kind of federal constitution would be forcibly resisted.
Lord Linlithgow came to India for the federal plan to inaugurate during his time. With the outbreak of war, Lord Linlithgow decided to put on hold the question of federation. In the beginning he tried to enlist the support of the Congress and of Gandhiji in the war effort. But his purpose was to carry on the government with minimum changes. Lord Linlithgow determinedly turned his back on the Congress ministries after the passing of the Ramgarh resolution in 1940. As he was with the Congress in opposition, Lord Linlithgow had turned to Jinnah and looked for co-operation from the League. This led to the developing of the Muslim League. Field-Marshal Viscount Wavell or Lord Wavell was appointed to succeed Lord Linlithgow. When Lord Wavell took over as Viceroy the war was not over and it was clear that once peace was established, it would be difficult to delay the transfer of substantial power to Indian hands. Thus, Lord Wavell began almost at once to set about preparing the conditions in which political power could be transferred.
Lord Wavell addressed the joint session of the central legislature on 17th February 1944. He stated that he would put forth the plan of India`s political future and its difficult problems. He condemned the demand for the release of the Congress leaders. Those who were responsible for the declaration of 8th August 1942 as the `Quit India` resolution could not be released till the policy of non-cooperation and obstruction had been withdrawn. Lord Wavell also put forth that he viewed the policy of the Congress as hindering and not forwarding India`s progress to self-government and development. In addition to that the British Government was also against the Congress for the demand for Purna Swaraj.
On 27 July, Gandhiji wrote to Lord Wavell and was prepared to advise the Working Committee to renounce mass Civil Disobedience and to give full co-operation in the war effort, if a declaration of immediate Indian independence were made and a national government responsible to the central Assembly were formed. It is subjected to the proviso that during the war, military operations should continue as at present, but without any financial burden upon India. On 17th July, Gandhiji wrote to Jinnah suggesting that the two of them should meet. Gandhiji assured Jinnah about his good intention and waned to meet Jinnah. Jinnah replied that he would be glad to receive Gandhiji at his house in Bombay.
The Working Committee of the Muslim League was held Lahore on 30th July, provided with the members Jinnah full authority to negotiate with Gandhiji. Gandhiji`s willingness to discuss the partition of the country with Jinnah provoked bitter criticism, particularly from the Hindus in the Punjab and Bengal was necessary. He was confirmed that the problem would be aggrieved at the prospect of becoming a helpless minority in an Islamic State. The Sikhs were nervous about a settlement being reached over their heads.
The Gandhi-Jinnah meeting took place on 9th of September 1944 to discuss the Partition of India. The talks continued under a veil of secrecy till the 27th, when the correspondence which had accompanied the talks was released and the failure to reach agreement was announced. On 24th September, Gandhiji had made a concrete offer to Jinnah, stating that he was willing to recommend to the Congress and the country the acceptance of the claim for separation which was contained in the League`s Lahore resolution of 1940. He had proceeded on the assumption that India was not to be regarded as two or more nations, but as one family consisting of many members, including those Muslims living in Baluchistan, Sind and the North-West Frontier Province, parts of the Punjab, Bengal and Assam.
There should be a treaty of separation which should provide for the efficient and satisfactory administration of foreign affairs, defence, internal communications, customs, commerce and the like, which must necessarily continue to be matters of common interest between the contracting parties. The treaty should also contain terms of the safeguarding of the rights of minorities in the two States. Immediately on the acceptance of that agreement by the Congress and the League, the two would decide upon a common course of action for the attainment of India`s independence. The League would however be free to remain out of any direct action to which the Congress might resort and in which it might not be willing to participate.
Since he did not accept that the Musalmans of India were a nation, nor that they had an inherent right of self-determination; that they alone were entitled to exercise their right of self-determination, and that Pakistan was composed of two zones, North-West and North-East, comprising six provinces namely Sind, Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal and Assam, subject to territorial adjustments that might be agreed upon as indicated in the Lahore resolution. He added that the All-India Congress Committee`s resolution passed at Allahabad in May 1942 and the one passed at Bombay on 8th August 1942 was a complete bar to any settlement on the basis of the division of India into Pakistan. Jinnah-was against Gandhiji`s proposal that in areas the right of self-determination should be exercised, not only by Muslims, but by all the inhabitants of those areas. Gandhiji had suggested that there should be a treaty of separation to provide for the efficient and satisfactory administration of foreign affairs, defence, communications, customs, commerce and of matters that are of common interest. On 27th September, Jinnah announced that it had not been possible to reach an agreement. The breakdown of the Gandhi-Jinnah talks convinced the British that the demand for Purna Swaraj by the Congress would not proceed further.