Chapter 33: CRIPPS MISSION
growth of left wing influence and militancy within the
nationalist ranks the stage was set for another round of
nationalist mass movement but at this time there was a
crisis at the top level.
Rise of Subhash Chandra "
Bose was the unanimous choice of president in 1938 and he
decided to contest once again in 1939 as the
representative of militant nationalism and left wing. Bose
declared that he represented new ideas, ideologies,
programs and problems but other leaders like Sardar Patel,
Rajendra Prasad issued a counter statement saying the
president was just a constitutional head who represented
unity and solidarity of the nation. With the blessings of
Gandhiji they put P Sittaramaiya as the nominee. But he
after being elected declared that Gandhian supporters
were right wing and were ready to compromise with the
British and looked forward to ministerial and
parliamentary work and hence opposed nomination of a
leftist. Since he cast aspersions on the character of
his colleagues Gandhiji and others including Nehru
criticized him for this.
differed with Gandhiji on matters of policy and estimating
the strength of the congress. He felt that the world war
could be used to our advantage and an ultimatum should be
given to British failing which a mass civil disobedience
should be launched. Gandhiji
disagreed with him on this view as there was communal
strife in the country, corruption within the congress
and internal dissentions.
Bose had overestimated his majority in the congress
elections. He was asked by other leaders to appoint a
working committee on advice of Gandhiji but Gandhiji
refused to impose a committee on him. Bose wanted Gandhiji
to head the struggle but use tactics and style laid by the
leftist and Bose. But Gandhiji refused to be in a
situation where strategy was not his but implementation
was his responsibility.
made a mistake understanding the congress members
mentality, although they had elected him but this didnt
mean that they had lost belief in Gandhijis leadership.
When Bose made comments on Gandhijis character he lost
support of even his close allies in congress.
resigned from president ship and Rajendra Prasad was
CPI and the congress socialists didn’t join Bose as they
too wanted the support of a united congress under
Bose formed forward bloc within the congress and called
for a nationwide strike. The congress took disciplinary
action and barred him any congress office for 3 years.
When Britain declared war on Germany, India too was
dragged in it without being consulted. The congress was
divided on this question. Gandhiji wanted support to the
British, Bose and the leftist wanted a mass civil
disobedience as the war was for imperialistic reasons [win
colonies] but Nehru wanted the middle path that India
shouldn’t fight the war till it gained independence nor
launch a civil disobedience. Nehru asked the British
government to issue a statement giving freedom to India
after the war but the British reply was completely
that the congress represents only Hindus, the British
propped up communalists and declared that in the
interest of minorities freedom can’t be given at this
stage or after the war too. This was met with anger by
all leaders and the congress ordered its ministries to
resign immediately. However a mass struggle wasn’t
launched as of yet
to the position of the gandhian's was that of the forward
bloc, CSP, CPI and other leftists. They believed that the
war was an imperialist’s war and the situation should be
used to the advantage of Indians by means of an all out
struggle for independence. They accepted that weaknesses
in the congress organization existed but these could be
easily handled once the mass struggle began. Subhash Bose
wanted the left wing to leave the congress and believed
that people would support the left led mass movement. But
even the left parties doubted this as they felt he
overestimated their strength and no movement was possible
without the support of Gandhiji and the congress.
majority of the congress party decided that no mass
struggle for now but their patience was wearing and the
government too was in no mood to relent and went on
issuing ordinances that took away civil liberties. Finally
government asked Gandhiji to take charge.
congress support in the war British government made an
announcement known as the August offer to it. The offer
said that after the war a representative body of Indians
would be setup to form the new constitution. Gandhiji
wasn’t satisfied with this offer.
to launch individual Satyagraha [in response to august
offer] – satyagrahi would inform the district
magistrate about the place of making anti war speeches. If
the government didn’t arrest the satyagrahi he would move
to the next villages progressively towards Delhi [Chalo
Delhi]. Thus Satyagraha in small doses was necessary so
that the British would know that India doesn’t support
their war efforts but at the same time not to disrupt the
fight against Nazism.
war by 1941 had reached the borders of India and the
congress leaders released from prison were anxious in this
situation working committee passed a resolution that if
British agreed to give freedom after the war then congress
would support British in war effort.
responded to the pressure put by the allies of the war by
sending Stafford Cripps to meet and negotiate with the
leaders. The draft declaration made had the following
body after the war
of the constituent assembly shall be elected from
provinces and nominated members from the princely states.
demand was partly accepted by giving freedom to provinces
who didn’t want to join the constitution could sign a
separate agreement with British.
didn’t support the Cripps proposal as it didn’t have
provision for complete independence. Gandhiji called it
a post dated cheque from a crumbling bank. People
frustration was at its peak and now a time comes for the
final assault on imperialism.
Stafford Cripps was sent to India
with constitutional proposals to seek Indian support for the war.
Stafford Cripps was a left-wing Laborite, the leader of the House of
Commons and a member of the British War Cabinet who had actively
supported the India national movement.
Cripps Mission was Sent because :
Because of the reverses suffered by Britain in South-East Asia, the
Japanese threat to invade India seemed real now and Indian support became
There was pressure on Britain from the Allies (USA, USSR, China) to
seek Indian cooperation.
Indian nationalists had agreed to support the Allied cause if
substantial power was transferred immediately and complete independence
given after the war.
The main proposals of the mission were as follows :
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: (i) any province not willing to join the Union could
have a separate constitution and form a separate Union, and (ii) the new
constitutionmaking body and the British Government would negotiate a
treaty to effect the transfer of power and to safeguard racial and
In the meantime, defence of India would remain in British hands and
the governor-general's powers would remain intact.
Departures from the Past and Implications
The making of the constitution was to be solely in Indian hands now
(and not "mainly" in Indian hands — as contained in the August Offer). 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
Why Cripps failed
The Cripps Mission proposals
turned out to be merely a propaganda device for US and Chinese
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 governorgeneral's
supremacy had been retained, and the demand for governorgeneral
The Muslim League criticised the idea of a single Indian Union. It 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. It thought that the proposals denied to the Muslims the right
to self-determination and the creation of Pakistan.
Other groups also objected to the provinces' right to secede. The
,Liberals considered the secession proposals to be against the unity and
security of India. The Hindu Mahasabha criticised the basis of the
right to secede. The depressed classes thought that partition would
leave them at the mercy of the caste Hindus. The Sikhs objected that
partition would take away Punjab from them.
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
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
effecting the transfer of power.
C. Rajagopalachari, the veteran Congress leader, prepared a formula for Congress-League cooperation. It was a tacit acceptance of the League's
demand for Pakistan. Gandhi supported the formula. The main points in CR
Muslim League to endorse Congress demand for independence.
League to cooperate with Congress in forming a provisional government
After the end of the war, the entire population of Muslim majority
areas in the North-West and North-East India to decide by a plebiscite,
whether or not to form a separate sovereign state.
In case of acceptance of partition, agreement to be made jointly for
safeguarding defence, commerce, communications, etc.
The above terms to be operative only if England transferred full powers
Jinnah's Objections to the CR plan were :
Jinnah wanted the Congress to accept the two-nation theory. He wanted
only the Muslims of North-West and North-East to vote in the plebiscite
and not the entire population.
He also opposed the idea of a common
centre. While the Congress was ready to cooperate with the League for
the independence of the Indian Union, the League did not care for
independence of the Union. It was only interested in a separate nation.
Hindu leaders led by Vir Savarkar condemned the CR Plan.
Efforts continued to end the deadlock. Bhulabhai Desai, leader of the
Congress Party in the Central Legislative Assembly, met Liaqat Ali Khan,
deputy leader of the Muslim League in that Assembly, and both of them
came up with the draft proposal for the formation of an interim
government at the centre, consisting of
An equal number of persons nominated by the Congress and the League in the central legislature.
20% reserved seats for minorities. No settlement could be reached
between the Congress and the League on these lines, but the fact that a sort of parity between the Congress and the League was decided upon, which had far-reaching consequences.
Although the war in Europe came to an end in May 1945, the Japanese
threat still remained. The Conservative Government in Britain led by
Churchill was keen to reach a solution on the constitutional question in
India. The viceroy, Lord Wavell was permitted to start negotiations with
Indian leaders. Congress leaders were released from jails in June 1945.
The Government was Keen on a Solution Now :
The general election in England was scheduled for mid-1945. The
Conservatives wanted to be seen as sincere on reaching a solution.
There was pressure from the Allies to seek further Indian cooperation
in the war.
The Government wanted to divert Indian energies into channels more
profitable for the British.
Features of wavell plan:
The idea was to reconstruct the governorgeneral's executive council
pending the preparation of a new constitution. For this purpose, a
conference was convened by the viceroy, Lord Wavell, at Shimla in June
1945. The main proposals of the Wavell Plan were as follows.
With the exception of the governor-general and the commander-in-chief,
all members of the executive council were to be Indians.
Caste Hindus and Muslims were to have equal representation.
The reconstructed council was to function as an interim government
within the framework of the 1935 Act (i.e. not responsible to the
Governor- general was to exercise his veto on the advice of ministers.
Representatives of different parties were, to submit a joint list to
the viceroy for nominations to the executive council. If a joint list was not possible, then separate lists were to
Possibilities were to be, kept open for negotiations on a new
constitution once the war was finally won.
The League wanted all Muslim members to be League nominees, because it
feared that since the aims of other minorities—depressed classes, Sikhs,
Christians, etc. were the same as those of the Congress, this
arrangement would reduce the League:to a one-third minority.
wanted Khizr Hyatt Khan as the Muslim representative from Western
The League claimed some kind of veto in the council with
decisions opposed' to Muslims needing a two-thirds majority for
The Congress objected to the plan as "an attempt to reduce the Congress
to the status of a purely caste Hindu party and insisted on its right to
include members of all communities among its nominees".
Wavell announced a breakdown of talks thus giving the League a virtual
veto. This strengthened the League's position, as was evident from the
elections in 1945-46, and boosted Jinnah's position; and exposed the
real character of the Conservative Government of Churchill.
A civil servant who worked under Lord Wavell
noticed that ‘vanity, pomposity and other such weaknesses never touched him',
another way of saying that he did not look to, or care about, how history would
Yet it is Lord Wavell who should get most of the credit for initiating the
end of British rule in India. While skeptical of the political class, he was, despite
the reserve which he displayed to them, deeply sympathetic to Indian aspirations.
It was he who set in motion the discussions and negotiations at the
end of the war, and it was he who pressed for a clear timetable for withdrawal.
But it was left to his flamboyant successor (Lord Mountbatten) to make the last dramatic gestures
that announced the birth of the two new nations.
Q.The plan of Sir Stafford Cripps envisaged that after the Second World War (UPSC CSAT 2016)
India should be granted complete independence
India should be partitioned into two before granting independence
India should be made a republic with the condition that she will join the Commonwealth
India should be given Dominion status
Ans . D
Cripps proposed to give dominion status to India after WW2
Q.With reference to cabinet mission, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. It recommended a federal government.
2. It enlarged the powers of the Indian courts.
3. It provided for more Indians in the ICS
Select the correct answer using the code given below. (UPSC CSAT 2014)
2 and 3
1 and 3
Ans . A
The cabinet mission plan of 1946 proposed that there shall be a Union of India which was to be empowered to deal with the defense, foreign affairs and communications.
The Union Government and its legislature were to have limited powers, dealing with Finance, Foreign Affairs and Communications. The union would have powers necessary to raise the finances to manage the subjects.
All subjects other than the Union Subjects and all the residuary powers would be vested in the provinces.
Thus, the Cabinet Mission plan proposed a weak Centre with Provincial autonomy (federal structure).