Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Secession in the Cabinet MIssion Plan


Some questions and answers about the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Q1. Where did the proposal allowing for secession after 10 years come from?

 From the Muslim League proposals of May 12, 1946 (here)
10. The Constitution of the Union shall have a provision whereby any Province can, by a majority vote of its Legislative Assembly, call for reconsideration of the terms of the Constitution, and will have the liberty to secede from the Union at any time after an initial period of ten years.
The Cabinet Mission Plan statement of May 16, 1946 (here) accommodated it as follows (also read answer to Q2)
(6) The Constitutions of the Union and of the groups should contain a provision whereby any Province could by majority vote of its Legislative Assembly could call for a reconsideration of the terms of the Constitution after an initial period of ten years and at ten-yearly intervals thereafter.

Q2. What was the Congress response to the above proposal?

 From the same link above, the relevant points

a.  from the Congress' proposals of May 12, 1946
8. The Constitution should provide machinery for its revision at any time subject to such checks as may be desired. If so desired, it may be specifically stated that this whole Constitution may be reconsidered after 10 years.
and

b. from the Congress response to Muslim League Proposals of May 12, 1946
(10) The Constitution of the Union will inevitably contain provisions for its revision. It may also contain a provision for its full reconsideration at the end of ten years. The matter will be open then for a complete reconsideration. Though it is implied, we would avoid reference to secession as we do not wish to encourage this idea."
 Q3. What would the strength of Muslims be in the proposed Central Legislature per the May 12 proposals?

The Muslim League: (here)
6. There should be parity of representation between the two groups of Provinces in the Union Executive and the Legislature, if any.
 7. No major point in the Union Constitution which affects the communal issue shall be deemed to be passed in the joint constitution-making body, unless the majority of the members of the constitution-making body of the Hindu provinces and the majority of the members of the constitution-making body of the Pakistan Group, present and voting, are separately in its favour.
 The Congress: (here)
(6 and 7) We are entirely opposed to parity of representation as between groups of Provinces in the Union Executive or Legislature. We think that the provision to the effect that no major communal issue in the Union Constitution shall be deemed to be passed by the Constituent Assembly unless a majority of the members of the community or communities concerned present and voting in the Constituent Assembly are separately in its favour, is a sufficient and ample safeguard of all Minorities.

We have suggested something wider and including all communities than has been proposed elsewhere. This may give rise to some difficulties in regard to small communities, but all such difficulties can be got over by reference to arbitration. We are prepared to consider the method of giving effect to this principle so as to make it more feasible.
Q4. What did the Cabinet Mission Plan statement of May 16 say about the composition of a Central Legislature?

It did not say much.  On the subject of the Central Legislature, here are the salient points:
(2) The Union should have an Executive and a Legislature constituted from British Indian and States' representatives. Any question raising a major communal issue in the Legislature should require for its decision a majority of the representatives present and voting of each of the two major communities as well as a majority of all members present and voting.
 Q5. Did Jinnah interpret the 10 year clause in the Cabinet Mission Plan as allowing for secession?

As per Jinnah's conversation with Major Woodrow Wyatt on May 24, 1946, Jinnah was upset that the Cabinet Mission Plan statement did not allow provinces to secede.

6. His general criticism of the Statement was that it had not settled any of the fundamentals. For example:-
...
(d) Provinces had not been given the right to secede after 10 years although the Congress had always been willing to give the right to secede and had raised no real objection this time at Simla.
 Q6.  Was Jinnah quite happy with the federal solution laid down by the Cabinet Mission Plan?

As per Jinnah's conversation with Major Woodrow Wyatt on May 24, 1946,  this is what Jinnah thought:

3. He considered that the Statement was not a practicable proposition. The machinery envisaged would not work and could not work mainly because there was no spirit of co-operation on the Congress side. The Mission had obviously not even fully appreciated the situation in India. What was required was a surgical operation. This Statement would settle nothing.....

5. He said that the preamble to the Mission's Statement had bitterly hurt the feelings of the Muslims. Not only that, it was inconsistent with the rest of the Statement. This onslaught was quite unnecessary and had been done in order to placate Congress. Indeed, the word Pakistan was an anathema throughout the Statement. This preamble made matters even more difficult for him than before.

6. His general criticism of the Statement was that it had not settled any of the fundamentals. For example:-

(a) The Muslim group of Provinces had not got parity with the others at the centre.

(b) There was no real protection for the Muslims in the Constituent Assembly, because from the very start the chairman would be a Hindu, unless the Muslims were to say that the election of the chairman was a communal issue, in which case the Constituent Assembly would break down straight away.

(c) The position of the States was left far too vague.

(d) Provinces had not been given the right to secede after 10 years although the Congress had always been willing to give the right to secede and had raised no real objection this time at Simla.

(e) The Union had been given the power to raise money. This was not a communal issue and would inevitably lead to taxation from the Centre with other subjects being added on the short list of the Union Government.

7. He explained to the Viceroy why there should be entirely separate Constituent Assemblies which only met together for the purpose of deciding the structure of the Union Government.

He thought the Viceroy had understood. This was a psychological matter and the Mission had created a single Constituent Assembly working in three sections only to please the Congress, ignoring Muslim feeling.

8. The only real safeguard for the Muslims was parity between Federations. The method of voting on communal issues would not work as there would always be dispute as to what was a communal issue and what was not.

9. He could not understand why the Muslim provinces had been split into two groups. He agreed that it was something to have the groups at all and without them he could not even have looked at the Scheme.

10. He disliked the Advisory Committee on which the Muslims would be in a minority, and as far as he could see would be unable to prevent the Union Constituent Assembly incorporating its recommendations as a part of the constitution of the Union Government, thus added another subject to those dealt with by the Union Government.

11. He dilated at considerable length on the attitude of Congress who had not conceded anything during the Simla Conference and would never approach the Constituent Assembly in a spirit of co-operation. They would aim the whole time to use their majority to steam-roller the Muslim League and sidetrack the provision as to safeguarding the Muslims on communal issues. It was inconceivable that such a Constituent Assembly could work at all.

12. He will not come down to Delhi until June 1st or 2nd. He can say nothing further until he has consulted the Muslim League Working Committee and Council. He is being bombarded with telegrams from his supporters protesting against the Statement and the Muslim reaction is very strong against it. My own impression is that he definitely wants to see where he is with the Muslim League before giving a decision on the Statement and he wants them to have time in which to absorb the two shocks which they have been given.

(a) His own letter agreeing to a Union Government
(b) The preamble to the Mission's Statement.

He is particularly hurt that the Mission have seized on this concession(which was an enormous one from his stand point) and have not taken his offer as a whole. None of the provisos that went with it have been accepted. I pointed out to him that everything that Congress had asked for had not been accepted either but he did not seem particularly convinced.
Q7.   Does the conversation of Major Woodrow Wyatt and Jinnah on May 24, 1946 prove "...that Muslim League’s resolution was aimed at saving face with its own constituents and did not have any serious ramifications in terms of the federation that was envisaged under the Cabinet Mission Plan, which Jinnah seemed to believe was workable"?

The answer to Q6 provides excerpts to this very conversation, which show that Jinnah did not believe the plan was workable.  Second,  there is nothing here about saving face:

13. I asked him, in view of the foregoing, whether he thought that the Muslim League Working Committee might possibly pass a resolution on the following lines:-

The British had exceeded their brief in pronouncing on the merits of Pakistan. They had no business to turn down what millions of people wanted. Their analysis of Pakistan was outrageous. But the Muslims had never expected the British to give them Pakistan. They had never expected anyone to give them Pakistan. They knew they had to get it by their own strong right arm.

The scheme outlined in the Cabinet Mission's Statement was impracticable and could not work. But nevertheless in order to show that they would give it a trial, although they knew that the machinery could not function, they would accept the Statement and would not go out of their way to sabotage the procedure-but they would accept the Statement as the first step on the road to Pakistan.

At this proposition he was delighted and said "That's it, you've got it", and I am completely convinced that that is what the Muslim League will do.
14. He will demand parity in the Interim Government if he decides to come into it.
 PS: Jinnah's public statement of May 22, 1946 on the Cabinet Mission Plan has pretty much the same complaints that he reiterated to Major Wyatt on May 24 (answer to Q6 above).

PPS: As to the sincerity of the June 5-6 acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan by Jinnah, also see this.

(Originally posted here.)

No comments:

Post a Comment