Dr Mohammad Saleem In 1942, when Cripps visited India to have a dialogue with the political parties, the All India Congress was anticipating, in view of the war situation, that the British government would practically hand over the reins of the Indian government to it, and thus it would get an opportunity to impose the Hindu rule in India. But this proved to be a wishful thinking. The frustration of the Congress can be well imagined from the press conference arranged by Nehru on April 16, 1942, in which he said: Blood and tears are going to be our lot whether we like them or not. Our blood and tears will flow; may be the parched soil of India needs them so that the fine flower of freedom may grow again. After the failure of the Cripps Mission, anticipating Britains defeat in the war, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi resolved to initiate a new struggle for establishing the Hindu Raj in the name of independence. As a first step in this direction, Gandhi, while giving an interview on June 11, 1942, to two Americans, stated: I have been asking myself why every whole-hearted attempt made by all including myself to reach unity has failed, and failed so completely that I have entirely fallen from grace and am described by some Muslim papers as the greatest enemy of Islam in India. It is a phenomenon I can only account for by the fact that the third power, even without deliberately wishing it, will not allow real unity to take place. Therefore, I have come to the resultant conclusion that the two communities will come together almost immediately after the British power comes to a final end in India. Look at the last part of his statement. Till 1942, Gandhi was raising the slogan of Hindu-Muslim unity before independence because he could see very well that the power could not be snatched from the British rulers without the cooperation of Muslims. Now, in view of the deteriorating condition of Britain in the Second World War, he had come to the conclusion that the power in India could be captured even without the cooperation of Muslims. He, therefore, threw away his old attire and raised the slogan that independence should be achieved first; the Hindu-Muslim unity could be attained later on. On July 17, 1942, the Punjab Governor Glancy wrote to the then Viceroy Linlithgow that (Sir) Sikander (Hayat, the Chief Minister of Punjab), appears to be seriously disturbed that Gandhi, if he fails to induce the British government to yield to his demands, may make terms with Jinnah by an out and out offer of Pakistan and then present a united front to government. Hayats point of view was owing to his ignorance of the temperament of Gandhi. Actually, Gandhi had already formed the opinion that the time had come when power could be snatched from the British rulers without the cooperation of Muslims. In view of his new approach, he would not bother to consider the demand for Pakistan. The war was knocking at the doors of India. In Egypt, the army of Rommel was advancing towards Cairo and Suez Canal. The war position in Russia and China was equally bad and the allied forces had already retreated from Burma. Gandhi was of the view that it was the right time to ask the British to quit India and if they do not yield then to start a civil disobedience movement. As soon as the movement starts, the government will compromise with the Congress and, even if it does not happen, the government will not take any drastic steps against the Congress. It will get time and opportunity to organise an effective movement. In the Congress Working Committee, Abul Kalam Azad and, to a certain extent, Nehru opposed him strongly because they were of the opinion that in the existing circumstances the government could not afford any such movement and would crush it with full force. In order to weaken the resistance offered by these two members, Gandhi wrote a letter to Azad stating that their views were so different that they could not work together. Therefore, if the Congress wanted him to lead the movement, then Azad should resign from the presidentship and, along with Nehru, should withdraw from the Working Committee. When Patel came to know about it through Nehru and Azad, he went to Gandhi and pleaded that such an eventuality will have disastrous repercussions. The people will be confused and the Congress will be shaken to its very foundations. Consequently, Gandhi sent for Azad and told him that he had written the letter in haste and on further consideration had decided to withdraw it. When the Working Committee met in the afternoon, the first thing Gandhi said was that the penitent sinner has come to the Maulana. This was indeed merely a technique of Gandhi. Thus, in a subtle manner, he had put permanent pressure on Azad and Nehru. After this event, they could not stick firmly to their stand and on July 14, 1942, the Congress Working Committee, endorsing Gandhis point of view, passed the 'Quit India resolution. On August 8, 1942, the All India Congress Committee in its meeting held at Bombay (now Mumbai) ratified the resolution and appealed to the Indians to start a mass movement to achieve independence. At that time, Gandhi told his colleagues: From this moment onwards, every one of you should consider yourself a free man or woman, and act as if you are free and are no longer under the heel of this imperialism. You may imprint on your hearts: 'Do or Die. We shall either win freedom for India or die in the attempt. It is significant that Gandhi did not express any desire to obtain the cooperation of Muslims for this movement. Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the leader of untouchables, had rightly stated that this movement was an attempt to achieve independence by just ignoring Muslims and other minorities. The Quaid-i-Azam immediately saw through the intentions of the Congress. On July 31, 1942, he issued a statement to the foreign press. He said: The decision of the Congress Working Committee to launch a mass movement if the British do not immediately withdraw from India is the culminating point in the policy and programme of Mr Gandhi and his Hindu Congress of blackmailing the British and coercing them to concede a system of government and transfer power to that government, which would establish a Hindu Raj immediately under the aegis of the British bayonets, thereby placing the Muslims and other minorities and (their) interests at the mercy of the Congress Raj. Against the expectations of Gandhi, the British government took an immediate step. On August 9, 1942, the government arrested Gandhi, Nehru, Azad and other Congress leaders. For detention, Azad writes, the Congress leaders were taken in a corridor train to Poona and Ahmednagar. Gandhi and Mrs Sarojini Naidu were put in one compartment, while the remaining leaders of the Congress were in another compartment. Mrs Naidu came to our compartment and said that Gandhiji wanted to meet us. We walked down the corridor to his compartment, which was some distance away. Gandhiji was looking very depressed. I had never seen him looking so dejected. I understood that he had not expected this sudden arrest. His reading of the situation had been that the government would not take any drastic action. Now that his calculations had proved wrong, he was uncertain as to what he should do next. After the arrest of topmost leaders of the Congress, most of the Muslim League leaders were of the view that, for the sake of independence, Muslims should take part in the Congress movement against the British. This approach was based on the propaganda done by the Congressites, who were out of jail and big Hindu businessmen, that the Congress was now willing to give Muslims the same type of independence that they were demanding. A meeting of the Muslim League Working Committee was held in Bombay on August 16, 1942, to decide the policy of the Muslims at this hour. Some distinguished members were of the view that cooperation should be extended to the Congress in this mass movement. But the Quaid did not agree. He was of the opinion that the interests of the Muslim nation call for a policy to avoid giving support either to the Congress or the government, and utilise this opportunity to organise and strengthen the Muslim League. Within a short time, all but four of the members were in unison with the Quaid. Three of them - Hasan Ispahani, Nawab Ismail Khan and Raja of Mahmoodabad - promised to abstain during voting on the condition that if during the next three months the events do not shape according to the predictions of the President, they will resign from the Working Committee. Only G.M. Syed of Sindh continued to stick to his opinion and cast his vote against the resolution adopted by the Working Committee. This meeting of the Committee continued for four days under the Chairmanship of the Quaid-i-Azam. It noted with deep concern that the Congress had started an open rebellion for the establishment of Hindu Raj in India. The Muslim League directed the Muslims to remain peaceful and also not to indulge into any anti-Congress activities during this movement, i.e., they should remain completely neutral. We would like to relate here an interesting incident described by Ispahani. He writes: (After the establishment of Pakistan), I met my old Working Committee colleague G.M. Syed, who told me something I did not know. He said that after he had caste his dissenting vote, he was persuaded by Abdul Matin Chaudhry of Assam and Aurangzeb Khan of NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), two of our colleagues, to go to the Quaid and withdraw his vote. He told our leader: 'Sir, I still hold the same view, but if you think that my action will create a misunderstanding outside regarding amity in the Working Committee, I authorise you to declare that the resolution was passed without dissent. The Quaid accepted the withdrawal with the words: 'Thank you. You shall realise in three months that I am right and you are wrong. When the Committees meeting was over, Ispahani and Raja Sahib of Mahmudabad decided to stay in Bombay for another two days. The Quaid-i-Azam told them that if he did not prove to be correct within the next three months, he would himself resign from the presidentship of the Muslim League. Not to talk of three months, the whole situation became crystal clear to Ispahani and Raja within the next few days. The Quaid-i-Azam gave them the articles written by Gandhi and Nehru that were published in Harijan on August 22, 1942, and Bombay Chronicle dated August 23, 1942, and asked them to read the scripts. Both the articles were written a few days before the arrest of the members of the Working Committee of the Congress. These articles proved that there had been no change in the policy of the Congress towards the Muslims. After reading them, Ispahani and Raja were convinced that the decision taken by the Working Committee under the guidance of the Quaid-i-Azam was correct. The fact is that if the Muslim League had not taken this decision, the destiny of Indian Muslims would have been under dark clouds for a long time to come. The Congress would have succeeded in its designs to capture the power single-handedly and establish Hindu Raj in entire India. From the very beginning, the Congress was keen to have a government based on the so-called democratic principles according to which there would have been three Hindu votes against each Muslim vote This was certainly a deceitful concept of democracy Its sole purpose was to establish Hindu Raj in undivided India. During the next three years, the Muslim League organised itself and extended its range of influence. From 1942 to 1945, the League formed ministries in the provinces of Sindh, Bengal, NWFP and Assam. Punjab was the only province where in spite of the Muslim majority, the Muslim League could not form a ministry. Indeed, the Quaid took full benefit of the Quit India Movement that paved the way for the emergence of Pakistan. The writer is an academic.