The year 1940 dawned with no hopes of solution and ran its languid course of interviews, statements when it was roused by the publication of the Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League in March, 1940 with its demands of Pakistan.
The whole country was taken by surprise at the most unusual demand of the Muslim League for a separate homeland for Muslims on the soil of India.
On 26th March, 1940 the Muslim League resolved that,
“no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principle namely that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial re-adjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in the majority as in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute Independent States in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”
The name of Pakistan got associated with the regions associated with these resolutions. This demand was the natural evolution of the doctrine of separatism that Jinnah had preached having its roots in separate electorates. Jinnah further declared this issue as international instead of inter-Communal.
Pakistan, as a separate state for the Muslims, had its origin in the year 1929 when a section of Muslim intelligentsia was nourishing the idea. The ideological and political background had of course been prepared since long when the Aligarh movement was organized followed by the foundation of the All India Muslim League as a gesture of the British Government through the Morley-Minto Reforms.
The two nation theory had taken deep root by the end of 1920s. It was Muhammad Iqbal the well known poet who first articulated the demand for a separate Muslim State in the Indian-Sub-Continent. The philosopher cum poet Muhammad Iqbal presided over the Allahabad session of the Muslim League in 1930 and demanded that “I would like to see the Punjab the North-Western-Frontier Province, Sindh and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state.
Self-Government within the British Empire or without the British Empire the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to be the final destiny of the Muslims of North- West India.” He raised the demand for the creation of “a Muslim India within India.” Iqbal fertilized the soil for the growth of Muhammad Jinnah’s Pakistan Movement.
It was an irony of history that the man who was at one time worked as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity ultimately became the destroyer of that unity. Jinnah began his political career as a disciple of Dadabhai Naoroji and Gopal Krishna Gokhale and was a promising congressman.
But during the thirties he abandoned nationalism and turned into a communalist. When the Muslims were trained to believe that the Hindus being the majority population any Government in India would mean Hindu Government, Jinnah exploited that situation and created distrust towards the Congress in the minds of the Muslims in India.
It was during that time a young Punjabi Muslim named Chaudhury Rahmat Ali, a student at London thought of a separate Muslim homeland to the Muslim delegates of the Round Table Conference.
He projected the idea of Pakistan consisting of the provinces of the Punjab, North-West Frontier or Afghan Province, Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan. By takening the letter P from the Punjab, A from Afghana, K from Kashmir, S from Sind and Tan from Baluchistan he coined the world Pakistan for that imaginary state which Jinnah materialized in 1947.
Rahmat Ali founded the Pakistan National Movement in 1933 in London to propagate the idea but some Muslim leaders did not pay any importance to this idea as it was “an students scheme” and as impracticable. But the idea of a separate Muslim state continued to live and gain ground in subsequent years.
While little was known of Pakistan and its originator in India the propaganda continued in England. To this proposal a demand for Bangistan comprising Bengal and Assam and Usmanistan of the Nizam’s dominions was added. Thus the chimerical scheme of a student Rahamat Ali became the goal of the Muslim League and Pakistan became the cardinal demand of Jinnah which divided the Indian politics. The resolution of the Muslim League was passed unanimously at Lahore and placed before the Viceory on 1st July, 1940.
Many nationalist Muslims and their organizations opposed Jinnah’s demand. But the Linlithgow was very happy over this demand. The Secretary of state for India Lord Zetland could come-forward to declare a no lasting settlement in India will be possible without real reconciliation among the Muslims and the Hindus in India.
At this critical juncture Winston Churchill the war time Prime-Minister of England appointed L.S. Amery as the Secretary of State for India in place of Zetland. Churchill’s hostile attitude towards India was well known to the Indians. He could never think of the decline of the British power and the freedom of the Indian people.
His hatred towards the Congress in general and Gandhi in particular was deep-rooted. The nationalist forces came under a wave of shock as Churchill rose to power again. On the other hand Jinnah and the Muslim League found in that conservative leader a real patron and savier of Muslim Community.
The international politics received a dramatic change when Hitler was winning Sweeping Victories in Europe. For Britain the worst days were imminent. Apprehending danger from the Congress side Linlithgow wanted to negotiate with the Congress about dominion status. Churchill warned the Viceroy not to give any concession to the Congress. On 8th August, 1940 the Viceroy made a statement regarding the political future of the Congress and invited its President for an interview on 20th August, 1940. The “August offer’ recognized the right of Indians to frame their constitution subject to certain obligations.
The constitution-making body was to be set up after the War. The Muslim League was satisfied the Congress regarded this August offer both unsatisfactory and mischievous. The divide and rule policy having led to the demand of Pakistan the Congress could not wait any longer in inaction. The Congress on 15th September, 1940 authorized Gandhi to guide the Congress in the action that should be taken in the face of the gravest challenge the Congress and the nation was facing. Jinnah on the’ other hand was accepted by the League as the “Statesman-creater.”
Gandhi faced a time of trial and test. He was in a dilemma. On one hand he did not want to put the British in trouble when their existence was in danger. On the other hand any silence on the part of the Congress was like an approval of the British war effort.
Finally Gandhi thought of a moral campaign against the British attitude in the War through individual Satyagraha or Civil Disobedience. He selected Vinoba Bhave as the forerunner of this march. In October, 1940 Vinoba raised an anti War slogan in public to show the Indian feeling against the Government repression and exploitation.
On 17th October, 1940 the war between the Congress and the Government began after the arrest of Vinoba Bhave. Arrests followed in quick succession. Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested on 29th October and by the end of the year all the leading Congressmen were behind the bars. Government remained unmoved.
The Callousness of the Government during this period of danger prompted a nationalist leader Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru to exclaim “that there has never been a Government of India more isolated from public opinion and from the main current of thought in the country than the present Government.” This statement annoyed the Government.
The declaration of War by Japan against Britain and America in December 1941 followed by the fall of Singapore on 15th February, 1942 and Rangoon on 9th March, 1942 alarmed the Secretary of State Amery. The Congress was gaining happiness on the situation. Churchill felt that the rapid defeat of the British in the hands of the Japanese had ruined his prestige. The people naturally had lost hope in the British ability to defend India.
The Congress was on the War-path to fight its battle for freedom. Churchill therefore decided to keep India quiet for some time and announced the appointment of Sir Stafford Cripps, the Leader of the House of the Commons, a member of the War-Cabinet having the socialistic viewpoint to negotiate with the Indian Leaders about a settlement. The Prime Minister announced that Cripps would be visiting India with proposals approved by his Majesty’s Government for the solution of the Indian deadlock.