Quit India Movement
In July 1942, the Congress Working Committee met at Wardha. Here a long resolution was passed that demanded that the “British Rule in India must end immediately”. This resolution was an outcome of the change in attitude of Congress and Gandhi himself towards British.
The attitude changed because in the Second World War the Japanese were triumphing and they had already overrun Singapore and Malaya. They were nearly reaching Burma and India. So it was thought that “Presence of British in India was an invitation to Japan to invade”.
The Wardha Resolution is also known as “Quit India Resolution”. This resolution was ratified in the All India Congress Committee at Bombay on August 7, 1942. Here a nonviolent mass struggle under the leadership of Gandhi was sanctioned in the “August Kranti Maidan”.
In case Gandhi and the Congress leadership is arrested, the document said:
“Every Indian who desires freedom and strives for it must be his own guide urging him or her on a long hard road where there is no resting place and which leads ultimately to the independence of India”
After that , Gandhi made the following statement in his speech:
” Every one of you should from this moment onwards consider yourself freeman or woman and act as if you were free……I am not going to be satisfied wish anything short of freedom. You should do or die. We shall either free India or die in the attempt”.
This movement attracted the common people of India. After the above sanction, the AICC meeting ended on the midnight of 8 August 1942. The same night police arrested Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Aazad and all other leaders. Within a week, almost all the leaders of Congress were in jails. From August 9 to August 13, there was widespread disturbance in Bombay, Ahamadabad, Poona, and Delhi. However, after that the movement started deteriorating. It was followed by widespread strikes and other outbreaks. All of them are commonly called the “Great August Uprising“.
Was the Great August Uprising inevitable?
Yes. We have seen in the above discussion that the immediate cause of QIM was the failure of Cripps mission. It was realized that any further silence would be tantamount to accept the right of the British government to decide India’s fate without any reference to the wishes of her people. That was also a time of a rising inflation and the acute shortage of food stuffs. The World War created problems for the common people and as soon as the news of allied reverses and British withdrawals from south-east Asia and Burma came, the people started looking for opportunity to express their discontent.
By the end of the year, the movement had been suppressed due to ruthless use of force. For next two and half years, there was no large political movement.
Was the Quit India Movement a natural corollary of the prolonged struggle for the independence?
Partially Yes. In fact, Quit India Movement was a natural corollary of the failure of the Cripps Mission. Various reasons given for the outbreak of the Quit India Movement are as follows:
- Gandhi’s was desperate and wanted to call for “do-or-die” after the failure of the individual Satyagrnha.
- Failure & Rejection of the Cripps Proposals
- There was a general demoralization of the Congress leaders.
- There was a growing demand for separate land among the Muslim League.
- There was a presence of large number of troops in India.
There was also a feeling that Indians would do the same with British as the people in Singapur, Malaya and Burma did.
Did Quit India Movement prove to be a metaphor?
India movement represented a metaphor because it was
- Not a Non-violent Movement
- Not led by Gandhi
- Not Planned
Basically, Gandhi did not formulate any definite programme of action before he was arrested on 9th August. The violent acts in the 1942 movement were not of its original character, and the QIM movement in 1942 shortly merged itself into the revolutionary or terrorist movement. One of the powerful sections of congress led by Jaya Prakash Narayan openly repudiated the policy of Gandhi. There were sporadic events of violence in all parts of India and the leaders preached the cult of violence and mass revolution. The revolutionary movement and the non-violent satyagraha launched by Gandhi, both came to an end, almost simultaneously, without achieving freedom. The movement was not spontaneous because it ultimately represented it was a byproduct of a combination of trends underlying at varying degrees to produce independence, at that time.
Further, the communists had opposed this movement and it virtually damaged the labour movement also. Labour Unions under Communist influence had apparently decided against participation in the movement, there were large-scale strikes in mills at Kanpur, Jamshedpur and Ahmadabad. There was an indifference of the Labour Class