Cabinet Mission Plan 1946

Cabinet Mission was composed of three Cabinet Ministers of England

  1. Sir Pethick Lawrence, Secretary of State for India.
  2. Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade,
  3. 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“.

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  • Siddhartha

    Very good work. there is no substitution for this. Thank you

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  • Rahul

    Awesome work by gktoday. The best site for GK prep..!!!!!!!!!!

  • hristian

    In some other references I found the total members in constituent assembly is 389. Out of the total 296 represent British India where 292 is elected by provincial legislature and 4 representing chief commissioner…
    This is little different then what is given in article. Please justify which one is the correct numbers of members representing the British India.
    As this is hot zone for the competitive exam, better take care.

  • suman

    Total no in constitution assembly?
    No. From provinces?
    No. From British India?
    Union territories?
    Plz clarify………………..

    • hristian

      Total – 389
      British India – 296 Out of which 292 members were
      . elected by the provincial Legislature
      . and 4 members represent Chief
      . Commissioner’s provinces.
      Princely State – 93 reserved.

  • Neeraj Karande

    Has anyone read 12th std history ncert(themes in Indian history part 3)?
    If yes, in the chapter 14-understanding partition, this mission is discussed on pg.389 and they hve mentioned the grouping to be compulsory, what does compulsory grouping means here? Does it mean that if permanently grouped, one cannot opt out of a particular section? Thanks in advance :)

    • Shashwat Chopra

      It means that there would be 3 groups irrespective of the fact that how many province join them. That is why it says grouping to be compulsory but provinces would have right to opt out. So a group starting with 6 province can go either way. It can have 6+ or 6- or 6 province at the end. As some province may end up leaving the group other may end up joining it.Also it goes further and says After first general election a province can come out of a group.After ten years a province can call for a reconsideration of group and union constitution.

    • Shashwat Chopra

      Sorry 3 sections ,not group. There would be 3 sections.

  • sdamre

    This article has errors. Finance was not named as an initial Union subject. Also, British Baluchistan was a Chief Commissioner’s Province with one to be named representative. It was not part of Group B. Why did the writer include it?

    “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.”

    No…you cannot realize because over time such a government would evolve and become stronger at the Center. It is not as though the Provinces could not or would not eventually cede more subjects to the Center. Subjects such as currency would have been ceded to the center. Nobody believes that each province would have had their own currency. The Indian National Congress and Nehru were just plain stubborn. No government can be perfect and strong from day 1. Those things evolve. And, in any event, you can bet that Group B would have ceded many subjects to the Center so Nehru would have got the same India as today plus in the worst case scenario the Muslim majority provinces would have been part of the country even if it was with autonomy. Better than three wars and the problems in J & K plus all of the bad blood and animosity. A common defense, common transportation, external affairs..Cabinet Mission Plan was fine…INC was the problem…not the Muslim league.

    • anitesh

      Hey dude.why you are blaming INC.The idea of common centre was first introduced in rajagopalachari plan (Congress leader)where they actually put forward proposal of comon center between India and Pakistan for defence,ext.affairs,and communication.but Jinnah turned out this plan.He was a problem.Have you know about it ? Have confirm knowledge then give your opinion.

  • sanyam jain

    whats is the difference between province and state..when we are talking about different govt of india acts..

  • Ahmad khan

    plx if anyone tell me what was the openion of INC and ML over the proposals of cabinet mission, there is confusion
    one said that ML league accepted the statements and INC partially accepted plx help me