GOI Act 1935 was soon followed by provincial elections in which Congress participated and managed to form govt. in number of provinces. It ruled for 28 months from 1937-1939 that provided it with valuable experience of running the administration and it came in hany in immediate post-independence era.
1936 Lukhnow session, JLN President.
JL Nehru was saying that Congress must adopt Socialism as its official goal.
‘Bombay Resolutions’ / ‘Bombay Manifesto’ criticized Nehru for advocating socialism. Capitalist class in Bombay. E.g. Purushottamdas Thakurdas, JRD Tata
1937 Faizpur Session, JLN President.
Congress witnessed a debate similar to 1924, under which the older guard of Congress favoured contensting elections e.g. C Rajagopalachari whereas the younger sections such as Bose, JL Nehru were not keen on contensting elections.
But in 1937 they eventually did contest elections.
Congress won 50%+ seats in all provinces except Muslim majority states of NWFP & Bengal but it managed to emerge as single largest party.
ML could not form govt. in any Muslim majority province also and this was rude shock to Muslim League.
Congress did not formed govt. in Sindh, Punjab and Bengal.
1937, Congress formed ministris in number of provinces and aimed to differentiate Congress rule from British rule.
General measures – all political prisoners were released, restriction on press were lifted.
Peasants – lowered taxation rate by 50%, they also strengthened tenancy rights i.e. tenants will not be forcibly displaced.
Passing laws enabling untouchables to enter temples and other public places.
/ but they did not abolish Jamindari which would have resulted in withdrawal of Jamindar’s support to Congress.
Working class – proposed minimum wages for workers, it also introduced Bombay Trade Disputes Act 1938. This act gave vast powers to Police to break any strike by workers. This evoked criticism of Congress in Bombay province.
But overall, Congress did managed to demonstrate a positive impact of its policies despite its shortcomings, limited powers and criticism of Bombay Trade Disputes Act.
This enabled Congress to widen its mass base.
/ Elections were not held at central level in 1937.
1939 there were signs of WW 2 and Congress resigned.
Other Political Developments during 1930s.
All India Kisan Sabha was established in 1936 with Swami Sahajanand Saraswati as its president.
Congress Socialist Party was established in 1934 under leadership of Acharya Narendra Dev and Jai Prakash Narayan.
National Planning Committee
was appointed in 1938 by the Congress President Subhas Bose. It was set up under the chairmanship of Jawaharlal Nehru in order to draw up a development plan for free India.
Comparison of viewpoints of Gandhi and Bose
Gandhi rejected any possibility of joining hands with Axis powers whose expansionist actions, he was critical of.
Bose on the other hand was open to joining hands with Axis powers including Japan, to overthrow British from South Asia.
Gandhi was critical of Allies whom he criticized for their dishonest orientation and argued that India and Congress could not be party to a war meant for protecting democratic freedom when the same was denied to Indians themselves.
Gandhi argued for immediate devolution of power and establishment of a constituent assembly after the war ended.
Gandhi had an ideological commitment to non-violence whereas Bose was open to the use of other means apart from non-violence.
Gandhi argued for a more prolonged Struggle-Truce-Sruggle strategy, Bose argued for a continuing mass struggle, termed the Struggle-Victory strategy.
While Gandhi had no inclination towards Socialism given its violent roots, Bose was attracted towards the idea of socialisnt planning.
Differences between two were visible in 1939 – Tripuri session of Congress. Bose contested for post of Party president while Gandhi was against it. Gandhi supported Sitarmmaiya but Bose won the election but resigned due to opposition to his views within Congress.
Eventually Rajendra Prasad was made President.
Despite their differences, Bose termed Gandhi as the ‘father of the nation’ and Gandhi termed Bose as the ‘Prince among the patriots’ showing the mutual respect between the leaders.
/ Bose was president in 1938 session also.
1940 – Bose formed Forward Block.
British wanted to capture him, placed him under house arrest, he escaped he ran to Afghanistan..Germany..Japan.
WW 2 1939-1945
It saw involvement of ~2-3 mn troops.
Britain, France, USA, USSR Vs Germany, Italy, Japan
Axis powers dominated till 1942. Germany defeated France, Japan reached Indian borders (Battle of Kohima).
USA and USSR got involved in 1942.
1939 Additional Session. Wardha Session.
The Congress discussed the issue of WW 2 and concluded to not support Axis powers during WW2. A support could be extended to British if
A) there is an immediate devolution of powers beyond GOI 1935 and
B) Constituent Assembly would be established after war to transfer power to Indians.
1939 – Aug 1940 British largely ignored Congress demands. However by Aug 1940, Germany imposed quick defeats on allies as France, Belgium and Netherlands were defeated. Britain came into more conciliatory mood.
1940 August offer
In Aug 1940, British came up with the proposal under which they offered ‘Dominion Status’. /1st time that British offered dominion status.
Constituent assembly would be established after the war, composed of Mainly Indians.
No future constitution would be adopted without the consent of minorities.
Congress rejected the August Offer as they demanded complete independence.
Congress urged the British to come up with more substantive offer.
1940 Lahore Resolution of Muslim League
ML argued for separate provinces in Muslim majority regions in NWFP and East Bengal.
This resolution is also called ‘Pakistan day resolution’.
ML welcomed August Offer since they considered themselves as exclusive representatives of Muslims.
1941 Individual Satyagrahas
Congress argued that nationalist patience must not be seen as a sign of weakness as they were waiting for further British proposals.
Congress decided to allow individual Congressmen in their personal capacity to launch the Individual Satyagrahas which would involve
Adopting an anti-war declaration (oppsing involvement of Indian troops in war).
Initiate a Delhi-Chalo movement against the involvement of Indian troops in war.
Vinoba Bhave was first individual satyagrahi while JL Nehru was second. More than 40,000 people participated and 25,000 were imprisoned.
1942 Cripps mission
It proposed further devolution of power under which
The promised Dominion status.
Establishment of Constituent Assembly composed only of Indians.
Provinces which aim to form a union of their own could do so i.e. Right to secede.
Congress argued that Dominion status is not enough and they also rejected the implicit right to secede being offered by British.
Thus Congress initiated Quit India movement.
Bose Nehru Comparison.
They were not always at differences with each other.
Both of them were in support of Purna Swaraj and also in support of socialism.
Both of them approved of Str uggle-Victory strategy.
But While Bose was in favour of support to Axis powers, Nehru rejected any talk of joining hands with Axis powers but he said that Allied are not to be supported altogether as they are not supporters of freedom.
Nehru largely stuck towards a Gandhian approach, Bose went beyond Gandhian means and explored even the armed struggle and formation of INA.
1942 Quit India movement 9 Aug 1942
Wardha Resolution 1942Failure of Cripps mission resulted in announcement of Quit India movement by Congress.
It started from Bombay under Gandhi’s leadership who gave the slogan of ‘Do or Die’. Aug 8 1942.
This was to be final decisive struggle to overthrow British from region.
9th Aug 1942, all top Congress leaders were imprisoned by British.
Leadership passed into hands of middle level Congress leaders and many of them women leaders like Sucheta Kripalani, Aruna Asaf Ali, Usha Mehta (Secret communications and radio).
Movement was largely suppressed.
However it was a mass struggle that spread nationalist consciousness further and widened the mass base of Congress.
/Congress did not gave direct call to troops to resign from army.
/ ML, Ambedkar and many others did not participated in QIM.
1943 INA revolt and RIN mutiny
1942 Japanese imposed major defeat upon British in Burma. British hastily withdrew from Burma, leaving behind Indian soldiers (15,000) at mercy of Japanese army who were known for their ruthless treatment.
Mohan Singh conceptualized INA and argued that INA would support Japanese to fight against British.
1943 INA was formed and Bose soon assumed a leadership position within INA in association with Japanese.
There was also women regiment within INA. Jhansi Ki Rani Regiment, led by Latika Ghosh and Capt. Laxmi Sehgal.
A provision Indian govt. were formed with HQ in Rangoon, Singapore and A&N islands.
1944, they reached borders of India, Battle of Kohima was fought and British imposed decisive defeat on Japan and INA following which Japanese eventually withdrew from the region leaving behind INA troops who were now imprisoned by British.
Nov 1945, British decided to put captured INA soldiers on trial starting with
Gurbaksh Singh Dhillan
Shahnawaz Khan and
Prem Kumar Sehgal.
Congress decided to cease this opportunity since QIM had calmed down. Congress decided to fight cases of INA soldiers in court (JL Nehru, Tej Bahadur Sapru etc.)
Nov 5 -11 was celebrated as INA week (public speeches, rallies, plays demanding INA soldiers release) and Nov 12th as INA day and they also organized INA fund for the families of INA soldiers.
They also organized public demonstrations, plays, speeches
demanding the release of INA soldiers.
1946 Royal Indian Navy mutiny.
12,000 naval soldiers (ratings) stationed in Bombay came out in Public protests demanding release of INA soldiers and also demanded their own salary, promotion issues.
They threatened to attack their European seniors
Unfurled Indian Flag on British naval ships including HMIS Talwar and
They also carved ‘Quit India’ on ships.
Soon the mutiny spread to other naval bases like Karachi, Vishakhapatnam, Madras.
This was major shock to British empire and INA soldiers were released and sent next mission Cabinet Mission plan.
Impact of WW 2 on Indian Freedom Struggle
It increased the bargaining power of Congress as large number of Indian troops were involved. (2-3 mn soldiers). August offer and Cripps mission were immediate results of it.
Congress protested through individual Satyagrahas and Quit India movement.
It catalyzed the formation of INA and RIN mutiny.
It militarily and economically weakened Britain, limiting their ability to hold on to their colonies.
Impact of RIN mutiny
It confirmed the worst fears of British of their decreasing hold over army and prompted them to quickly transfer power and send the Cabinet mission plan in 1946.
It prompted the British to withdraw all cases against INA troops.
1945 Wavell Plan
/August, Cripps, Wavell, Cabinet mission.
Wavell plan was proposed as WW 2 was coming to an end but British were still fearful of Japanese therefore wanted to hold control over India thus they proposed
Except Viceroy and Commander in Chief all positions will be granted to Indians.
Governor General will have veto power over advice of CoM.
There will be equal representation to Hindus and Muslims.
Muslim League said that all Muslims in Constituent Assembly must be the representatives of Muslim League.
Congress rejected the position of Muslim League and argued that it also would appoint Muslim members to constituent assembly.
/ Badruddin Tayyabji was 1st Muslim Congress President in 1887.
Wavell announced the breakdown of talks.
Nov 1945 ML started direct action plan for Pakistan where they started public rallies demanding separate Pakistan.
These talks happened at Shimla and are also known as Shimla Conference of 1945.
After failure of Wavell Plan ML adopted ‘Direct Action Plan’ for formation of Pakistan and started preaching about it in Muslim Majority areas.
1946 Cabinet mission plan
/ Desai Liaquat formula and C R formula – homework.
/ Both were attempts to see if Congress and ML can come to consensus on power sharing. But none of them could succeed because ML insisted that Congress must give an assurance of creating Pakistan.
British govt. sent 3 membered high powered committee of
A V Alexander
Their proposal is Dominion status,
Rejected the demand for separate Pakistan and pointed out that making separate Pakistan is not feasible since there will be large non-Muslim population in Muslim majority areas.
But they said that a confederal structure will be created and argued for granting maximum autonomy to provinces by grouping them into 3 categories.
Section A – non Muslim majority states.
B – Muslim majority states in N West.
C – Muslim majority states in East.
All these 3 sections will have separate constitution and there will be common centre with its constitution.
Centre power will be related to foreing policy, army, communications, trade etc.
Muslim Leagues response – Jinnah argued that the grouping must be compulsory and Constituent assembly must abide by it.
Congress said that it will consider the proposal but was not bound by it.
Jan 1947 – Clement Atlee, British PM.
Replaced Wavell with Mountbatten
1947 Mountbatten’s plan. Tabled in June-July 1947
If partition was to be carried out, it would be carried out to ensure maximum unity.
Indian states, including princely states could join either India or Pakistan.
A boundary commission was to be appointed under Radcliffe to propose boundary line, boundary was drawn on map but it was not made public even till Aug 1. 5 membered committee was setup with Radliff as head and 2 Hindu and 2 Muslim members.
The plan was kept secret for some time.
It was very poorly managed, more than million people were killed. 14 Aug Pakistan got indpendence, 15 Aug India got liberated.
C Rajagopalachari was made first Indian Gov. General after Mountbatten (1947-48) till 1950.
Great Bengal Famine of 1943.
British directed food grains to needs of army.
Burma was captured by Japanese and food grain import stopped.
More than 1 million people were affected and this added to unpopularity of British.
Tebhaga movement 1946 in Bengal
Sharecroppers asserted that they would no longer pay half of their produce to jotedars but only 1/3rd.
And produce should not be stored with jotedars but in their khamars (godowns).
Notes on Constituent Assembly…. History perspective.
Ambedkar was chairman of Drafting committee.