Cabinet Mission, Nehru and Jinnah

 

“That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.”

-Lahore Resolution of Muslim League

Lahore resolution of Muslim League created blue print of Pakistan in 1940. But in 1940 Muslim League was a weak party; hence Jinnah’s claim that that Muslim League should be sole spokesman of Indian Muslims was ludicrous.

But by 1946, League had strong Muslim base. So Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946 came up with a solution which they believed will satisfy both Congress and League. This plan fulfilled demands of League as per Lahore resolution.

India was to be divided into 3 sections, with a weak centre controlling currency, defence and foreign affairs, while rest of the functions, were to be with these 3 units. Of these, two units had Muslim majority and one had Hindu majority. The princely states were to maintain their independence.

Cabinet Mission Plan

The structure was beneficial to League; they could control over large part of India esp. two important provinces of Punjab and Bengal. But League lacked political maturity. Qualities of a savvy politician were absent in leaders of League, they loved to take extreme positions. They started making demands which made no sense ex. asking for more and more territory. Instead of making governance a success, they got into street fight in name of “Direct Action”.

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It was more beneficial for League to make this arrangement work than Congress. As it is Congress was never in favour of weak centre, nor was it ready to let princely states to remain independent. Instead of winning over Nehru and Patel, they indulged in Congress bashing in name of minority politics.

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What League did not realise was such actions was alienating them from sections of Hindus who supported League. Soon strong Hindu leader like Jogendranath Mandal left Pakistan and came to India.

“Taking the logic of Jinnah’s demand to its extreme, Congress now offered him a ‘Pakistan’ stripped of the Punjab’s eastern divisions (Ambala and Jullundur), Assam (except Sylhet district) and western Bengal and Calcutta – the ‘mutilated and moth-eaten’ Pakistan which Jinnah had rejected out of hand in 1944 and again in May 1946. Such a permanent settlement would at a stroke eject Jinnah from the centre, clear the way for a strong unitary government wholly under Congress’s sway, and give away only parts of provinces which past experience had shown lay outside the Congress’s ken.”

― Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan

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Finally Jinnah took next extreme step, partition of India, not realising that Muslims would be biggest losers. Under new plan, Pakistan lost half of Punjab and significant part of Assam and Bengal. It divided Muslims and considerably reduced their influence on Indian politics. I am not even talking about lakhs of people who died or suffered hardship due to partition.

 

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