Pakistan Studies

Major Events and Political Developments Before and After Pakistan Resolution 1940

Emergence of Pakistan

Major events and political developments that took place before and after the passage of the Pakistan Resolution 1940 is discussed below in detail. These events help us understand the political, economic, and social conditions of India and the world during which the All India Muslim League demanded a separate homeland for Indian Muslims.

What were the events that took place in India before the passage of Pakistan Resolution 1940? 

Events that took place after the passage of the Pakistan Resolution 1940 are as follows: 

1. Provincial Election of 1937

The provincial Election of 1937 was the most important event that took place in India as part of the implementation of the Government of India Act 1935. This is also an important event that led to the Pakistan Resolution 1940.

The elections were held on the basis of separate electorates.  All India Muslim League, Indian National Congress, and other local political parties contested the election. The Muslim League managed to win only 109 out of 483 total Muslim seats. The remaining seats were won by Indian National Congress and regional parties i.e. Unionist Party in Punjab. This was a big failure for the league which claimed and considered itself as the only representative platform of Muslims of India.

According to the results of the election, Congress won majority seats in almost all provinces and formed its Government 8 provinces out of 11. In three provinces where it had not won majority seats, it made coalition governments. On the contrary, the league failed to perform in the election as it won only 109 Muslim seats out of 482 seats. In these 109 seats, the league had won majority seats from the Muslim minority. Congress did not bother to include the government in any province by the congress.

2. Breakout of World War II and Resignation of Congress

The important event that took place just before the passage of Pakistan Resolution 1940 was the break out of World War II between Germany and Britain on 3rd September 1939. To fight Germany the British also declared India at the War. While taking this decision the British did not bother to consult Congress. Congress resented this arbitrary decision of the British and felt offended. The reaction was so hard that Congress resigned from its ministries on 22nd December 1939 in protest. Congress thought that it was ruling at the provincial level and it should have been consulted for any important matter of India.

3. Mistreatment of Muslims during Congress Rule 1937-39

During its rule in 1937-39, Congress had dealt with Muslims with an iron hand. Muslims who had voted Congress increasingly felt insecure and targeted. Introduction of Band e Mataram, Wardha Scheme, ban on eating beef and slaughter of cow and alleged attacks on Muslims i.e. setting houses and other properties on fire, disturbances during prayer times i.e. throwing pigs into the mosques, arranging noisy processions outside mosques, etc. caused disenchantment to Congress.

4. Day of Deliverance 22nd December 1939

When Congress resigned on 22nd December 1939 Muslims of India took a sigh of relief. On the advice of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muslims observed this day,  22nd December 1939,  as the day of deliverance to thank Allah Almighty that they got rid of the Congress tyranny.   

Events After Pakistan Resolution 1940

Political developments and events that took place after Pakistan Resolution 1940 was passed are discussed below.

1. Cripps Mission 1942

British found themselves in trouble in Europe and Asia in the first three years of the war. In India, they had offended Congress by not taking it into confidence with regard to the involvement of Indian troops in the war against Germany in 1939. Consequently, Congress did not give any political support to the British in the war. All India Muslim League also did not support the British in war as its demands were also not met.

In 1942, Japanese forces occupied and derived the British out of Burma, today’s Myanmar. This alarmed British as Burma was in the neighborhood of India and Japanese forces could advance into India where the British already did not enjoy any support from local political forces.

British who were not moved even with the resignation of Congress from its ministries in 1939 now rushed to seek the support of both Congress and the league. A British cabinet member, Sir Stafford Cripps was sent to India to convince the locals to give support in the war against Germany in return for the promise of independence to the Indian sub-continent. When Cripps reached India, he met with local political parties and presented his plan known as Cripps Plan 1942.

Cripps Mission Plan contained the following proposals:

  • After the war an Indian Union would be set up with Dominion status;
  • Individual provinces could opt out of the Union and negotiate their own independence;
  • After the war a constituent assembly should frame a new constitution;
  • Elections for the constituent assembly would be held immediately after the war.

Both major political parties of India, the All India Muslim League, and the Indian National Congress rejected the proposals of the Cripps Mission. The proposals though indicated a future possibility of a separate state but the league despite appreciating the provision of opting out of any Indian Union rejected the proposals. All India Muslim League demanded clear mention of the name Pakistan as an independent state.

Similarly, congress also rejected the Cripps Mission Proposals as it wanted the British to immediately transfer power to Congress and leave India. Congress did want to wait for the war to end. It also could not trust British promises as they could withdraw from their pledges once things turned in their favor. Congress wanted to exploit the difficult situation and force the British to leave India.

British did not want to quit India at least at this stage, thus British could not agree to the demands of both congress and the league. So, the Cripps Mission failed in its aim to win the support of local political forces in the war against Germany and its allies i.e. Japan, Italy. Although Cripps Mission 1942 failed in its aim to win local support in the war efforts.

Nevertheless, it has had great significance in the history of the Indian subcontinent. It was for the first time that the British talked about giving independence to the people of India. This revealed that now the British could not hold on to India and they were to leave India soon. The British offer of independence of India after the war stimulated local political forces to strategize the political struggle.

2. Gandhi-Jinnah Talks 1944

When Gandhi was released from jail on medical grounds he contacted Muhammad Ali Jinnah that they both should meet and reach some settlement with regard to the constitutional and political limbo of the Indian subcontinent. Jinnah accepted the offer of talks which took place at Jinnah’s residence in Bombay throughout the month of September. Both leaders also exchanged letters as part of the talks.

The talks could not bear fruit and ended without any conclusion as there were more contradictory points than any commonality in the views of both leaders i.e.

  • Gandhi wanted the league to give immediate support to Congress in its struggle to remove the British. Only after the British left could partition be considered. Jinnah knew that he had to secure partition before the British left. Why should Congress agree to it once the British were gone?
  • Gandhi considered himself to be speaking for all of India. Jinnah reminded him that he was just the spokesman of Congress.
  • Gandhi gave the impression that he did not support the ‘Two Nation Theory, whereas this had now become official League Policy.

Gandhi-Jinnah Talks have had immense importance in the political history prior to the Partition.

  • Talks established that Congress and the league were on an equal footing. The Meeting of Gandhi with Jinnah was actually proof that Congress and its leaders now accepted the league as the only representative political platform of Indian Muslims.
  • The talks increased Quaid-e-Azam’s prestige. He had dealt firmly with Gandhi and this gave him more authority to handle any problems within Muslim ranks.

3. Quit India Movement 1942

The Quit India Movement was the first major political movement launched by the Congress before Pakistan Resolution 1940. 

n response to Cripps Mission Proposal, congress demanded the British leave India immediately and transfer powers to Congress. For Gandhi and Congress, Japan did not pose any threat to India which Cripps had tried to emphasize to gain local political support. The British did not pay any heed to Congress’s demand. In reaction, Congress started the Quick India Movement aimed at deriving the British out of India through agitation and non-cooperation. Congress called protests and non-cooperation and soon Hindus in all parts of India were on roads protesting against the British. With each passing day, the law and order situation became worse. British virtually lost control in many parts of the country. As the situation deteriorated and agitation became intensive, the British used force i.e. machine guns, air bombing killing hundreds and thousands of people. Gandhi, Nehru, and other Congress leaders along with thousands of activists were arrested and put in jails. It was only by sheer use of force that the agitation was cracked down. All India Muslim League did not support Quick India Movement as according to Jinnah Congress tried to blackmail the British in their difficult times to get control of India and impose their rule on India. Quaid-e-Azam in response to Quit India Movement demanded the British Divide the Indian subcontinent and then quit.

4. Simla Conference 1945

As the war had ended with the defeat of Central forces (Germany, Italy, Japan) the British seemed to go back from India. They could not hold on to India any longer in the face of economic destruction the war had inflicted upon the warring nations.

British did not want to leave India in chaos. Before their departure, they wanted to help bring the local political forces esp. the league, and congress to reach some compromise regarding the future of India. For this purpose Viceroy of India, Lord Wavell called a conference of Indian political parties including influential religious leaders and landlords at Simla in 1945.

Lord Wavell offered a plan of proposals in the conference which contained the following main points;

  • An executive Council would be set up to govern the country.
  • The proposed Council would contain an equal number of Muslim and Hindu ministers.
  • All members of the council would be local except a member controlling defense.

The conference seemed to be successful initially but soon controversy emerged between Congress and the Muslim League on the nomination of Muslim members to the council. Congress claimed that it should also nominate its elected Muslim members to the council. The league rejected this demand of the congress by claiming itself as the only political representative platform of Indian Muslims.

According to the league, it should have the exclusive right to nominate Muslim members to the council. According to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, his party had won every by-election since 1942. Therefore they deserved the right to nominate Muslim members of the council. Jinnah also feared that, even if the league nominated all by the league, the Muslims would still be a permanent minority in the council because the Sikhs and Scheduled Castes members would support Hindus in the council.

The failure of the Simla Conference 1945 proved that the gulf of mistrust between Congress and the Muslim League could not be bridged. It was absolutely clear that there was no room for compromise. Congress continued to claim that they alone spoke for all sections and communities but the league claimed that Muslims and United India were diametrically opposed to each other.

5. General Elections 1945-46

Elections were conducted to both provincial and central Assemblies in 1945-46 to set up an Executive Council with the support of main Indian Parties. All India Muslim League, Indian National Congress, and other small and big political parties of India contested the elections. Elections were held on the basis of separate electorates. Unlike, elections of 1937 it was for the first time in the history of India that General Elections were held.

The outcome of the elections

  • Muslim League won  87% of Muslim votes (446 of the 495)  in provinces and all 30 Muslim reserved seats in the Central Legislative Assembly.
  • Congress 91% of the non-Muslim vote and took control in the other eight states.
  • Congress took 19 Muslim seats to the League’s 17 seats in NWFP.

Significance of the elections

The elections showed that the Muslim community was supporting the league and the rest of the country was generally supporting Congress. It was a massive vote of confidence that further strengthened the league’s claim to speak for the Muslims of India. The league had contested elections with the slogan of Pakistan (achieving a separate state for Indian Muslims). Thus the overwhelming votes that the league won were proof that Muslims of India support the Pakistan Movement and wanted a separate homeland for themselves. The election results proved that the league was now an undisputed representative political platform of Muslims of the Indian sub-continent.

6. Cabinet Mission 1946

British made their last effort to create bring reconciliation between the congress and the league in 1946. For this purpose a delegation of three members of (Lord Pethick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps, and A.V Alexander) called Cabinet Mission was sent to India. The mission proposed a plan suggesting an Indian Union which would consist of three administrative parts e.g.

  1. The Hindu majority territories
  2. The western Muslim provinces
  3. Bengal and Assam

Each part would have local autonomy and the authority to frame its own constitution except Foreign affairs, defense, and communication which would be managed by the central government. Like those of previous attempts the Cabinet Mission Plan also failed despite the Muslim League’s initial willingness to become part of an interim cabinet to which the British would transfer powers before their departure from India. Jinnah later declined to go according to the plan over a statement made by Nehru. Nehru had given a statement to the press that Congress would not feel bound by the plan once the British had left. This statement of Nehru alarmed the League which felt that Congress would exercise its own will once the British would leave India.

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