He will "be ready for the working committee meeting in the afternoon.".
Gandhi's legacy is forever tied to independence for India, which had for generations been a part of the British Empire. His tactic in attaining this was non-violence, and this has inspired many, including Martin Luther King. Perhaps the most famous incident during the independence campaign was his salt march, which defied British...
Gandhi's legacy is forever tied to independence for India, which had for generations been a part of the British Empire. His tactic in attaining this was non-violence, and this has inspired many, including Martin Luther King. Perhaps the most famous incident during the independence campaign was his salt march, which defied British law mandating that Indians not collect their own salt but rather buy from official suppliers.
The Indian National Congress had since its creation in the late 19th century been the largest organizing political force for Indians. After World War I, Gandhi set about popularizing it (abolishing fees and encouraging broader membership) and used it as a social motivating tool. Great and influential men rose from the ranks of this group, including Nehru. With the Government of India Act in 1935, the first provincial elections were held in 1937, and the National Congress won 8 of the 11 provinces. World War II brought on more confrontation with the British. Gandhi developed his "Quit India" movement, aimed at the British, and designed to keep Indians from serving in the British ranks in World War II. This led to the imprisonment of many, Gandhi included. In fact, Britain declared India a belligerent during the war because of this opposition), though internally, some Indians disagreed with the official Congress position.
With the end of World War II, a weary Labor Party, under Prime Minister Clement Atlee, was determined to move toward Indian independence. In March 1946, Atlee sent a Cabinet Mission to India to discuss and plan for the transfer of power from Britain to Indian leadership, thus providing India with independence. This mission included the President of the Board of Trade and the First Lord of the Admiralty, and to lead the mission he chose Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India. The Viceroy of India at the time was Lord Wavell. The goal of the mission was to frame a Constitution and set up an Executive Council that would govern, composed of the main political parties.
There were two main political forces in India that would need to see eye to eye: Gandhi's Congress Party (the Working Committee was its executive council), and the All-India Muslim League. They hoped to establish a mutually agreeable power sharing arrangement between Hindus and Muslims. These negotiations came to a head in late Spring, 1946. On May 16, a plan was advanced that would create an independent united Dominion of India, and establish a loose confederation of provinces, with groupings of states along largely religious lines and a central government in Delhi. But it proposed essential parity between Muslim and Hindu states. On May 24, the Congress wrote saying it could not express a definitive opinion yet.
On May 25, the leader of the British Cabinet Mission, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, wrote to Gandhi, "I thank you for your letter of yesterday. It seems to me quite natural that the Congress Working Committee should disperse while we are waiting for the Muslim League whose decisive meeting is, I understand, timed for June 5. But I hope very much they will be back on that day or as soon as possible after it, or else we shall have a further delay. With regard to yourself I do not see why you should trouble to remain in Delhi during the interval. But when the parties are here again after that I hope very much you will be able to come and give a helping hand. I have come out here for the express purpose of launching India on its passage to sovereignty and independence and I greatly need your co-operation."
On June 3, he wrote a letter re-iterating the necessity of having Gandhi play a role and stating that the National Congress appeared to be concerned about this May 16 proposal on the basis of parity. The Muslim leader, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, would also have to be convinced of the propriety of the proposal. Perhaps waiting until after the Muslim League's meting would be ideal.
In all this, the Viceroy and leader of the delegation, Pethick-Lawrence, leaned heavily on Gandhi as a go-between and was relying on him as a moral force to bring the parties together. This Gandhi attempted to do. On June 5, as the Muslim League was meeting to discuss the proposal for governance of an Independent India, Gandhi announced that he would wait in Mussoorie as requested until the Muslims had finished their deliberations and return on the 8th to counsel the Working Committee.
Throughout all this, Gandhi's old friend (also well known to Pethick-Lawrence), Horace Alexander, was present. Alexander counseled the British about how to read Indian motives without being cynical. He wrote to Pethick-Lawrence to advise “endless tact, patience, imagination, and courage” in his dealings.
Letter signed, to Lord Pethick Lawrence, Bula House, Mussoorie, June 5, 1946. "Dear Friend, I have your kind letter of the 3rd inst. In accordance with your advice I am staying in Mussoorie until the afternoon of the 8th, reaching Delhi about 11 O'Clock that night. This enables me to have the next morning's treatment without bustle or hurry so as to be ready for the working committee meeting in the afternoon. This will be given to you by our mutual friend Horace Alexander."
On June 6, the Muslim League provisionally accepted the May 16 proposal. On the 8th, as promised, Gandhi left Mussorie and attended the Working Committee meeting the very next day. For days they deliberated, but on June 14 Congress reject the proposal. On June 16 the British proposed a second, alternative plan, providing for India to be divided into Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority India that would later be renamed Pakistan. Splitting India that way was unacceptable to Congress. Gandhi and the Working Committee did agree to join the proposed Constituent Assembly with a view to framing the Constitution of a free, united and democratic India. In 1947, the next year, independence arrived.
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