Thursday, July 10, 2014

Muslim League nominees to the Interim Government 1946

A story of the Muslim League nominees to the Interim Government in October 1946,  and its later (mis)remembrance by Maulana Azad is spelled out here.

 #434 in The Transfer of Power, Vol VIII : In a telegram to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, dated October 12, 1946, 12:50 PM, Viceroy Wavell writes (excerpts) :
Jinnah meets me at 5:30 this evening. It is just possible that he will hand me his five names……The names are almost certain to be the following which were suggested before:
Mr. M.A. Jinnah
Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan
Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar
Mr Mohammed Ismail Khan
Khwaja Nazimuddin.
However, Jinnah submitted the names only on October 14. They were in Jinnah’s words (#453 of T.O.P)
1. Mr Liaquat Ali Khan, Hon. Secretary, All India Muslim League, M.L.A. (Central).
2. Mr. I.I. Chundrigar, M.L.A. (Bombay) Leader, Muslim League Party in the Bombay Legislative Assembly and President of the Bombay Provincial Muslim League.
3. Mr Abdur Rab Nishtar, Advocate (N.W.F.P.) Member Working Committee, All India Muslim League, Committee of Action and Council.
4. Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, M.L.A. (Punjab) Member, Council All India Muslim League, Council Provincial Muslim League and Member of the Punjab Provincial Muslim League Working Committee.
5. Mr. Jugandra Nath Mandal, Advocate (Bengal), at present Minister of the Bengal Government.
On October 16, 1946, (#470 in T.O.P.), we have a note by Viceroy Wavell, that is Jinnah's explanation to him for the names proffered:
“Note of an Interview with Mr. Jinnah 16.10.1946

1. I congratulated Mr Jinnah on the League’s acceptance of participation in the Interim Government, but said that I was to a certain extent disappointed with the names that he had put forward; I had hoped that he would come in himself, and I also regretted the absence of two leading members of the Muslim League of whom I had formed a high opinion from contact with them, Nazimuddin and Mohammed Ismail.

Jinnah said that he agreed with me about the qualities of Mohammed Ismail and Nazimuddin, but that it was impossible to put two names from the same Province, and since Liaqat Ali Khan and Mohammed Ismail both came from U.P., it was necessary to drop Mohammed Ismail. It was also necessary to have the Punjab represented, which was why Ghazanfar Ali Khan had been included. There was in the end no room for Nazimuddin.

As to his own entry into the Government, he felt that the Muslim League organization would suffer if he came in.”
The Muslim League nominees were announced in an India Office Press Release from the Viceroy's House, dated October 15th (TOP #467).  In the press release, the Muslim League nominees are named.  It is also stated, "In order to make it possible to reform the Cabinet, the following members have tendered the resignations:- Mr Sarat Chandra Bose, Sir Shafaat Ahmed Khan and Mr Syed Ali Zaheer."  The press release further says,  "The distribution of Portfolios will be settled early next week, and the new members will be then sworn in."

Per T.O.P. #513, the press communique regarding the portfolios was released on the evening of October 25th.

Per Z.R. Zaidi's "Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers", Second Series, Volume XIV, the press release prompted letters to Jinnah, approving of the entry into the government, and approving or disapproving of the choice of J.N. Mandal.

#148, Mrs. K.L. Rallia Ram (October 16) approving.
#149, S. A. Ashraf (October 16) approving.
#150, K.R. Bengeri, (President, Nationalist Party of India) (October 16) approving.
#152, Firoz Khan Noon (October 17) approving.
#153, Qazi Bakhtyar Ali Qureshi (October 17) disapproving.
and so on.

On October 19, Ghanzafar Ali, 'Member Designate of the Interim Government, addressing the Islamia College Students at Lahore' said '"We are going into the Interim Government to get a foothold to fight for our cherished goal of Pakistan, and I assure you that we shall achieve Pakistan".  (Indian Annual Register, 1946, Volume II).

In "India Wins Freedom", (the 1988 edition), Maulana Azad recounts:
I must offer a few remarks at this stage about the nominees that Mr Jinnah send to the Executive Council.   Apart from Liaqat Ali the most important and experienced leaders of the Muslim League were Khwaja Nazimuddin of Bengal and Nawab Ismail Khan of UP.   It was taken for granted that if ever the League accepted office, these three men would be included among the League's nominees.  During the Simla Conference, these were the names that were again and again mentioned.   Now that the League had decided to enter the Cabinet, Mr Jinnah acted in a most peculiar manner.  Khwaja Nazimuddin and Nawab Ismail Khan had never taken an extreme position in the disputes between the Congress and the League.  This had obviously displeased Jinnah.  he thought that they would not be yes men and he therefore decided to exclude them from his list.   It would however have created a furore in the League Council if this fact was prematurely known.  He therefore induced the League Council to pass a resolution delegating full authority to him.

When he submitted his list to Lord Wavell, the names he included were those of Liaqat Ali, I.I. Chundrigar,  Abdur Rab Nishtar,  Ghazanafar Ali and Jogendra Nath Mandal.  I will have a word to say about J.N. Mandal separately.  The other three nominees of the League were completely unknown.  They were dark horses about whom even members of the League had little information.  It is of course true that the League had never taken any part in the political struggle and as such had few leaders of national importance.   Nevertheless among its members there were experienced administrators like Khwaja Nazimuddin and Nawab Ismail Khan.   They were all discarded in favour of Mr Jinnah's three henchmen.

On 25 October, the names of the Muslim League Members of the Interim Government along with the allocation of their portfolios was announced.  Khwaja Nazimuddin, Nawab Ismail Khan and other Muslim League leaders were waiting anxiously in the Imperial Hotel for the announcement.   They were absolutely sure about their own inclusion and so were their supporters.  According, a large number of Muslim League Members had come with garlands and bouquets.  When the names were announced and neither was included in the list one can imagine their disappointment and anger.  Mr. Jinnah had poured ice cold water on their hopes.

What Maulana Azad says about the October 25 disappointment of Muslim League members cannot be right.   At best, if it happened, it could have happened around October 15 or 16th.  This mis-remembrance may be attributed to the fact that Azad wrote these words perhaps a decade after the events he narrated.

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