Shimla Conference, June 1945
To discuss the provisions of the Wavell Plan a conference of 21 Indian Political leaders was invited to the Summer Capital of British Government Shimla. The leaders included Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was the President of the Congress at that time. Mohammad Ali Jinnah also reached in the conference.
But here, Jinnah made a strange claim. He said that no non-league Muslim should be represented to the Executive Council because only Muslim League has right to represent the Muslims of India. So, it was said that Congress had no right to nominate any Muslim in the Executive council.
Jinnah also demanded that in case of the division of votes and objection by the Mulism members, there should be a provision that vote is cleared only by 2/3rd of majority.
Wavell had given place to 6 Muslims in the Executive Council of 14, and British had given it the power of Veto to any constitutional proposal which was not in its interest.
But Muslims represented only 25% of Indian Population. Thus, these unreasonable demands were rejected by Congress. The Muslim league did not relent and Wavell dropped the plan. However, now it was almost clear to Congress that Muslim League can make or mar the fortune of Muslims of India. It was seen as strongest at this point of time, than ever before.
Was the failure inevitable at Shimla?
Yes. The three parties’ viz. Congress, Muslim League and Viceroy had to decide the fate of the conference the congress. For Congress, India was a single nation but for Muslim League, the Muslims were not only a minority but a nation in themselves. The viceroy’s decision was to be based upon this disagreement as the larger is the disagreement, larger may be the extension of the British rule. It was Lord Wavell that formally handed over the power to veto-final authority in any constitutional progress in India to Jinnah. So, this was the reason that Jinnah became sole representative of Muslims. Now Jinnah was Muslim League’s answer to Gandhi of Congress.
But at the same time, Wavell also reversed the proposals of Cripps mission which had recognized INC as the only platform which could discuss with the government. Thus Wavell created two platforms at Shimla.
- Raise the level of Jinnah to that to the level of Gandhi
- Make the Muslim league sole dispenser to the Muslim fate in India.
The result was that Muslim League emerged as a great gainer and they were now closer to a separate nation of their own.