- The question wants us to write in detail about the salient provisions of the Cripps mission and bring out the reasons as to why those proposals were rejected by the Congress and the Muslim league.
- Write a few introductory lines about the Cripps mission. E.g signing of the Atlantic Charter guaranteed the “right of all people to choose the form of Government under which they will live.” Stafford Cripps with this aims and directives arrived in India bringing with him a new constitutional scheme approved by the British Cabinet.
- In the main body, discuss the main proposals of the mission. E.g India was promised Dominion Status with the power to secede from the British Commonwealth; it proposed that immediately after the war is stopped, steps would be taken up to set up an elected body charged with the task of making the constitution for India adding that until the formation of the new constitution the British Government would remain responsible for the defence of India; The constitution finally framed by this body would also be implemented by the British Government but any province of British India would have the right to reject the constitution so made and to retain its existing constitutional position or frame another constitution by agreement with the British Government. The province had the option to accede subsequently to the Indian Dominion if it so desired etc.
- Discuss why the Congress rejected the proposals. E.g The Cripps proposals were rejected by the Congress in its meeting 11th April 1942; The Working Committee expressed its disapproval of the proposed Composition of the Constitution-making body and the right of the rulers of the Indian States to decide the future of millions of people living in these states. This was a “negation of both democracy and self-determination.” The proposals, therefore, were rejected by Congress as Vague and incomplete.
- Discuss why the Muslim league rejected the proposals. E.g The Muslim league rejected the proposals because it had given the greatest importance and priority to the creation of one Indian Union. The League reaffirmed its conviction that the “only solution of India’s constitutional problem is the partition of India into independent Zones.”
- Conclude by stating the importance of these events and the effect it had on the upcoming events till the partition.
Cripps Mission was sent by the British Government in March 1942 to India with the key objective to secure Indian cooperation and support for British War Efforts. Headed by Sir Stafford Cripps, this mission sought to negotiate an agreement with Indian leaders.
The proposal of the Cripps mission was that:
- India would be a dominion associated with the United kingdom.
- It promised that immediately after the war is stopped, steps would be taken up to set up an elected body charged with the task of making the constitution for India and provisions would be made so that the Indian states could participate in the framing of the constitution.
- An Indian Union with a dominion status would be set up. It would be free to decide its relations with the Commonwealth and free to participate in the United Nations and other international bodies.
- After the end of the war, a constituent assembly would be convened to frame a new constitution. Members of this assembly would be partly elected by the provincial assemblies through proportional representation and partly nominated by the princes.
- The British Government would accept the new constitution subject to two conditions.
- Any province not willing to join the Union could have a separate constitution and form a separate Union
- The new constitution-making body and the British Government would negotiate a treaty to effect the transfer of power and to safeguard racial and religious minorities.
- In the meantime, defence of India would remain in British hands and the governor-general’s powers would remain intact.
- The making of the constitution was to be solely in Indian hands now
- A concrete plan was provided for the constituent assembly.
- Option was available to any province to have a separate constitution—a blueprint for India’s partition.
- Free India could withdraw from the Commonwealth.
- Indians were allowed a large share in the administration in the interim period.
The Congress objected to:
- The offer of dominion status instead of a provision for complete independence.
- Representation of the states by nominees and not by elected representatives.
- Right to provinces to secede as this went against the principle of national unity.
- Absence of any plan for immediate transfer of power and absence of any real share in defence; the governor- general’s supremacy had been retained, and the demand for governor-general being only the constitutional head had not been accepted.
- The incapacity of Cripps to go beyond the Draft Declaration and the adoption of a rigid “take it or leave it” attitude added to the deadlock.
The Muslim League objected because:
- Criticised the idea of a single Indian Union.
- Did not like the machinery for the creation of a constituent assembly and the procedure to decide on the accession of provinces to the Union.
- Thought that the proposals denied to the Muslims the right to self-determination and the creation of Pakistan.
The incapacity of Cripps to go beyond the Draft Declaration and the adoption of a rigid “take it or leave it” attitude added to the deadlock. Cripps had earlier talked of “cabinet” and “national government” but later he said that he had only meant an expansion of the executive council. Churchill (the British prime minister), Amery (the secretary of state), Linlithgow (the viceroy) and Ward (the commander-in-chief) consistently torpedoed Cripps’ efforts. It was not clear as to who would implement and interpret the treaty affecting the transfer of power. Gandhi seized upon the failure of the Mission and called for voluntary British withdrawal from India. It resulted in the ‘Quit India’ Movement.