Cabinet Mission Plan 1946
Cabinet Mission was composed of three Cabinet Ministers of England
- Sir Pethick Lawrence, Secretary of State for India.
- Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade,
- Alexander, the First Lord of the Admiralty
The mission arrived on March 24, 1946. The objective of this mission was to
- Devise a machinery to draw up the constitution of Independent India.
- Make arrangements for interim Government.
- Thus the mission was like a declaration of India’s independence.
The mission spent some 3 weeks to discuss with the leaders of various political parties, but could not arrive at any agreed solution. So finally it announced its own recommendations on May 16, 1946.
- 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 cabinet mission recommended an undivided India and turned down the Muslim league’s demand for a separate Pakistan. The Cabinet mission restricted the Communal representation
- It provided that all the members of the Interim cabinet would be Indians and there would be minimum interference by the Viceroy.
- It also provided for formation of the constituent assembly on democratic principle of population.
- It recognized Indian Right to cede from the Commonwealth.
- 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. Thus, the Cabinet Mission plan proposed a weak Centre. We can realize what would have been of the country if this plan was approved and implemented.
- All subjects other than the Union Subjects and all the residuary powers would be vested in the provinces.
- The Princely states would retain all subjects and all residuary powers.
- A Constituent Assembly will be formed of the representatives of the Provincial Assemblies and the Princely states. Each province had to be allotted a total number of seats in proportion to the its population. The Constituent assembly had to comprise 293 Members from the British Provinces and 93 members from the Princely states.
- The representation of the Provincial legislatures was to be break up into 3 sections.
- Section A: Madras, UP, Central provinces, Bombay, Bihar & Orissa
- Section B: Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, Baluchistan
- Section C: Assam and Bengal.
Thus we see that though the Cabinet Mission plan rejected the idea of separate Pakistan, yet it grouped the provinces in such a way that it gave weightage to the idea of Pakistan, because the Section B would get almost complete autonomy.
Reaction to the Cabinet Mission Plan
The Congress accepted the proposals related to the Constituent assembly. But since, the Muslim league had been given disproportionate representation; it rejected the idea of the Interim Government. Congress also rejected the idea of a weak centre and division of India in small states. Congress was against decentralization and the idea was to have a strong centre.
The Muslim league first approved the plan. But when Congress declared that it could change the scheme through its majority in the Constituent Assembly, they rejected the plan.
On July 27, the Muslim League Council met at Bombay where Jinnah reiterated the demand for Pakistan as the only course left open to the Muslim League.
On July 29, it rejected the plan and called the Muslims to resort to “Direct Action” to achieve the land of their dream “Pakistan”. August 16, 1946 was fixed as “Direct Action Day“.