Freedom Struggle Phase-2

  1. After the debacle of Non –Cooperation movement in 1922, A group of leaders who still believed in Gandhain  methods advocated  on continuing Gandhain  .Constructive rural work while another group the pro-changers with such stalwarts like Motilal Nehru,CR Das demanded Congress participation in council politics.

  2. The Gaya session (1922) rejected council entry.

  3. A compromise was struck by which pro-changers were allowed to stand for elections,even as their faith in the constructive programme was reiterated.

  4. Their immediate objective was “Speedy attainment of full Dominion Status-Swaraj”,including “the right to frame a constitution with provincial autonomy.

  5. In the election of 1923 the Das –Nehru group under the banner of the Swami Party emerged the single largest partyi n the central Assembly ,Bombay and Bengal Council.

  6. The Swarajist pursued on obstructionist strategy to defeat all proposal for legislative enactments.

  7. CR Das died in1925 and a section of Swarajists tumed responsivists .Madan Mohan Malviya and Lala Lajpat Rai founded the independent Congress Party and rallied the Hindus .In 1933,it was reorganized as congresss Nationalist Party.

  8. In 1930, the Swarajists walked out of the Assemblies in accordance to the Lahore resolution. The Swaraj Party now merged with the congress as the country began to prepare for the second round of direct mass action to achieve complete independence.


Simon Commission

  1. In 1927,the British (Lord Birkenhead was ( the secy.of state) decided to appoint a commission to recommend further constitutional reforms

  2. The Indian Protest was on the grounds that the commission headed by Sir John Simon was an “all white “ commission

  3. Lord Birkenhead contantly talked of the inability of Indians to arrive at any consensus and that the British did not find any one from among the indians fit enough to serve in a body that would make recommendation about india’s political future

  4. The commission’s arrival in india led to a powerful protest movement in which nationalist enthusiasm and unity reached new heights

  5. On 3rd February ,the commissions was greeted with hartals and black flag demonstrations

  6. They could not carry with on with their coalition partners because of the conflicting ideas.

Nehru Report

To measure up to the challenge of the British,the Report was tabled in1928.

It remains memorable as the first major Indians effort to draft a constitutional framework for india complete with lists of central and provisional subjects and fundamental rights

It demanded responsible government both in the center and in the provinces.But  it advocated Dominion status and complete independence.

It demanded universal adult suffrage.

It rejected separate communal electorates. it proposed reservation for the Muslims at the center and in provinces in which they were in minority.

The report recommended equal rights for women , freedom to from unions and dissociation of the states from religion in any form.

Calcutta Session of INC in 1928 approved the report .INC now wanted the English government to either accept or reject the recommendations of the suggested constitution based on Dominion status.By Swaraj the Congress leaders had so far meant the Dominion Status for india within the ambit of British Empire.

Irwin Offer of 1929

  1. Dominion Status (DS) was a natural issue of Indian constitutional progress .

  2. A Proposed of Round Table Conference (RTC) after the publication of the Simon Report.

Lahore Session (December 1929)

Irwin talks broke down on the issue of Dominion Status,which the British were reluctant to concede immediately.Jawaharlal Nehru replaced Motilal Nehru as the INC president at Lahore and the major decisions taken Lahore session.

  1. Round table conference to be boycotted.

  2. P urna swaraj or complete independence was the main aim of congress.

  3. Launch a programme of civil disobedience including  non –payment of taxes.

  4. January 26,1930 fixed as the 1st independence day to be celebrated everyone

  5. On December 31,1929 the tricolor was hoisted on the banks of Ravi.



After the INC authorized Gandhiji to start CDM,he placed Eleven-Point  ultimatum to Irwin (January 31,1930) for administrative reforms and stated that if Lord Irwin accepted them,there would be no need for agitation.

Civil Disobedience Movement started with the Dandi March on 12 th March.


Salt production had geographical limitations.So,in other parts of the country the movement included-(a) picketing of liquor shops and actions (b) no revenue campaign in Bardoli (c) forest Satyagrahas (d) large scale resignation of rural  officials (e) refusal of Chaukidari tax (f) prabhatpheris-singing of nationalsongs (g)patrikas-distribution of illegal pamphlets.

Regional Spread

Chittagong:18th April,armoury raid by Surya Sen.

Peshwar:-23 April ,Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s  Khudai Khidmatgar activated the NWFP leading to rioting where the Hindu Gharwal rifles refused to fire on Muslim masses.

Sholapur:- News of Gandhi’s arrest (4th May ) led to working class strike from 7th to 17 th may.

Darshana salt works (21 may) Satyagraha led by Sarojini Naidu,Imam Saheb and Manikal Gandhi.

Madras:-Rajagopalachari led the March from Trichinopoly to Vedaranniyam.

Kerala:-K Kelappan marched from Calicut to Payannur,central provinces had forest satyagrahas.


With incidents of rising violence and with majority of leading Congress leaders behind bars Gandhiji called for rather sudden retreat .He initiated a talk with Irwin,which culminated in the Delhi Pact of 5th March ,popularly called Gandhi –Irwin Pact.


Irwin Agreed to release all political prisoners except those who were engaged in violence.

Right to make salt in coastal villages for personal consumption.

Gandhi agreed to suspend CDM and participate in 2nd of Round Table Conference.

Second Round Table conference

Gandhi agreed to attend the second Round Table Conference scheduled to be held in September 1931.He demanded control over the defence and foreign affairs.

Hindu Mahasabha demanded federal responsibility,which was opened by Muslim League and the princes. Ambedkar demanded separate electorates for Dalits,which was opposed by Gandhi

The Government refused to concede the basic nationalist demand of freedom on the basis of immediate grant of dominion status.


  1. On August 16,1932 McDonald announced the proposal on minority representation,known as the : “communal Award”, which recommended.

  2. To double the existing seats in provincial legislatures

  3. To retain the system of separate electorate for the minorities

  4. To grant weightage to muslims in provinces where they were in minority

  5. To reserve 3% seats for wome in all provincial legislatures, except in nwfp

  6. To recognize depressed classes as minority community and make them entitled to the right of the separate electrode.

  7. To allocate seats to labour ,landlords ,and traders and industrialists .

Gandhi’s objections

  1. Gandhi reacted strongly to the proposal of granting the right of separate electorates to the Depressed Classes. He regarded the Depressed Classes as an integral part of Hindu society. He thought what was required was not protection of the depressed  classes but root and branch eradication of untouchability .He had pinned his hopes for their welfare in the firm belief that the Hindus would do full social justice to fully integrate them within their fold .He demanded that the depressed classes  be elected through a joint and if possible a wider electorate through universal franchise.

  2. To persuade the recalcitrant Ambedkar to accept his viewpoint,Gandhi,then in the Yarvada jail,resorted to fast unto death.

  3. In an anxiety to save his life ,the poona pact with the following main terms was concluded between him and Ambedkar 25,1932.

  4. 147 seats were to be allocated to the depressed classes in the provincial legislatures as against 71 promised by the communal Award and 18 % of the total in central legislature

  5. Adequate representation for the depressed classes in the civil services.

  6. Ambedkar also accepted the principle of joint electorate.


  1. Launched to attain Purna Swaraj and not merely to remedy wrongs

  2. It involved deliberate violation of law and not merely non cooperation

  3. In the initial phase urban people participated but it spread to rural areas where it gained its maximum strength.

  4. Little Muslim and Labour participation.

  5. Women participated on large scale to picket shops.

Impact of CDM

  1. The Congress swept the polls in most provinces in 1937

  2. The Left alternative emerged for the movement had aroused expectations ,which Gandhian strategy could not fulfill.

  3. At the level of leadership ,Nehru and Bose voiced the new mood ,emphasizing the need to combine nationalism with racial social and economic programmes.

  4. Some Congress activists formed a socialist group the part in 1934

  5. Kisan Sabha with anti-Zamindari programmes developed rapidly in provinces like Bihar and Andhra.

Gandhi Harijan Campaign

Gandhi Withdrawn from Civil disobidence movement to focus on harijans  Welfare.after the poona pact Gandhi started an all India Anti-untouchability League and the weekly newspaper,Harijan.

Harijan welfare work by Gandhians indirectly help to spread the message of nationalism down to the most oppressed sections of rural society.

Gandhi confined the Harijan Campaign to limited social reforms(opening of wells,road and particularly temples  plus humanitarians work ) delinking it from any economic demands(through many  Harijans were agricultural Labourers ) and also refusing to attack  caste as a whole.

The Harijan Movement was formally withdrawn in April 1934.

 Third table conference

Third table conference was scheduled  to be held in London(1932),the Congress did not participate in it. The discussions led to the passing of the government of india Act,1935.


Following the withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement, Gandhi wanted to focus upon his village reconstruction programme and Harijan Campaign while many other party members wanted to fight the elections. In October 1934, Gandhi resigned from the Indian National Congress. In the Elections to the Central Legislative Assembly in November 1934, the Congress won 45 seats out of the 75. The government announced the holding of elections to the provincial legislatures in February 1937 under the Government of India Act 1935 which promised provincial autonomy. At the Lucknow session (April 1936), the Congress decided to contest them. The Congress framed a detailed political and economic programme at the Faizpur session (December 1936) under the Presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Provincial Elections under the GOI Act 1935

The Congress won a massive mandate. It formed ministries in 8 provinces — Madras, Bombay, Central Provinces, Orissa, Bihar, UP, NWFP and Assam.

  1. Haripura Session (Feb 1938) declared Purna Swaraj ideal to cover Princely States.

  2. Tripuri Congress (Mar 1939) favoured active participation in the Princely States because of the federal structure of the 1935 Act and due to assumption of office by the Congress after the 1937 elections.

  3. The Tripuri Session witnessed Bose vs. Sitaramayya (Gandhi’s nominee) conflict. Bose resigned to form the Forward Bloc.

August Offer (1940)

The Viceroy (Linlithgow) put forward a proposal that included:

  • Dominion Status in the unspecified future

  • A post-war body to enact the constitution

  • Expansion of Governor-General’s Council with representation of the Indians

  • Establishing a War Advisory Council

In this offer he promised the Muslim League and other minorities that the British Government would never agree to a constitution or government in India, which did not enjoy their support (the Muslim League had demanded Pakistan in its Lahore session of 1940). The Congress rejected this offer because:

  • There was no suggestion for a national government and because the demand for Dominion Status was already discarded in favour of Purna Swaraj.

  • It encouraged anti-Congress forces like the Muslim League.

Individual Satyagraha

With the failure of the British govt. to measure up to the demands, there were two opinions in Congress about the launching of civil disobedience. Gandhi felt that the atmosphere was not in favour of civil disobedience as there were differences and indiscipline within the Congress. However, the Congress Socialists and the All India Kisan Sabha were in favour of immediate struggle. Convinced that the British would not modify their policy in India, (the Congress having rejected the August Offer), Gandhi decided to start the Individual Satyagraha.

The very reason for confining the movement to individual participation was that neither Gandhi nor the Congress wished to hamper the War effort and this was not possible in a mass movement. Even the aim of the Satyagraha was a limited one i.e. to disprove the British claim of India supporting the War effort whole-heartedly. On 17 October 1940, Vinoba Bhave became the first satyagrahi to be arrested, followed by Nehru.

The Cripps Mission: March-April 1942

Under the pressure of Allies and the need for gestures to win over Indian public opinion, the British were forced to offer reconciliatory measures. After the fall of Rangoon to the Japanese the British decided to send the Cripps Mission to India for constitutional proposals, which included:

  • Dominion status to be granted after the war with the right to secede (Any province could, if it so desired, remain outside the Indian Union and negotiate directly with Britain)

  • Constitution making body to be elected from Provincial Assemblies and Princes’ nominees after the War

  • Individual princes could sign a separate agreement with the British which in effect accommodated the Pakistan Demand

  • British would however, control the defense for war period

The Congress did not want to rely upon future promises. It wanted a responsible government with full powers and also a control over the country’s defense. Gandhi termed the proposals as a post dated cheque in a crashing bank. Cripps Mission failed to satisfy Indian nationalists & turned out to be merely a propaganda device for US & Chinese consumption.

But above all the Cripps Proposals brought in “Pakistan” through the backdoor via the “local option” clause. Though the Cripps Mission failed, Cripps’ proposals provided legitimacy to the Pakistan demand by accommodating it in their provision for provincial autonomy.


In the backdrop of the failure of Cripps Mission, imminent Japanese threat, the British attitude towards Indians who were left behind in Burma and the prevailing anger and hostility to an alien and meaningless war, Quit India resolution was passed on 8 August 1942 at Gowalia Tank, Bombay. Gandhi told the British to quit and “leave India in God’s hand”. His message was ‘Do or Die’. In the initial stages, the Movement was based on non-violent lines. Repressive policy of the government and indiscriminate arrests of the leaders provoked people to violence. (Nehru was lodged in Almora jail, Maulana Azad in Bankura and Gandhi in Agha Khan’s palace, Poona). Further, it was the only all-India movement, which was leader less. In many areas, the government lost all control and the people established Swaraj.

Public Participation

  • Parallel governments were established in Satara — (Prati Sarkar under Nana Patil), Talcher (Orissa), parts of eastern U.P and Bihar.

  • In Bengal, Tamluk Jatiya Sarkar functioned in Midnapore district. This national government had various departments like Law and Order, Health, Education, Agriculture, etc. along with a postal system of its own and arbitration courts.

  • The Movement had initially been strong in the urban areas but soon it was the populace of rural areas, which kept the banner of revolt aloft-for a longer time.

  • The trend of underground revolutionary activity also started during this phase. Jaya Prakash Narain and Ramnandan Misra escaped from Hazaribagh Jail and organised an underground movement.

  • In Bombay, the Socialist leaders continued their underground activities under leaders like Aruna Asaf Ali. The most daring act of the underground movement was the establishment of Congress Radio with Usha Mehta as its announcer. The participation was on many levels. School & College students remained in the forefront, women actively participated and workers went on strikes. Though, peasants concentrated their offence on symbols of authority, there was complete absence of anti zamindar violence. There were no communal clashes during the movement. Repression was severe. The Movement did not evoke much response from the merchant community. In fact, most of the Capitalists and merchants had profited heavily during the War. The Muslim League kept aloof and the Hindu Mahasabha condemned the Movement. The Communist Party of India due to its “People’s War” line did not support the movement. The Indian Princes and the landlords were supporting the War effort and therefore did not sympathize with the movement. Some Congress leaders like Rajagopalachari also did not participate.


Objective of the C R Formula was to solve the political deadlock between the All India Muslim League and Indian National Congress. League’s position was that the Muslims and Hindus of British India were of two separate nations and hence the Muslims had the right to their own nation. The Congress was opposed to the idea of partitioning India.

The Core principle of the CR Formula was a proposal for the Congress tooffer the League the Muslim Pakistan based on plebiscite of all the peoples in the regions where Muslims made a majority. The main features were:

 The Muslim league was to endorse the demand for independence for the traditional period, i.e. Muslim league would support the congress’s demand for complete freedom and then majority provinces would go to plebiscite especially north eastern provinces.

  1. At the end of war a commission would demarcate those contiguous areas in NWFP and NEI where Muslims were in majority.

  2. In the event of separation, agreements would be and other essential purpose.

  3. The terms would be binding only in case of transfer by Britain of full power and responsibility for full governance of India.

  4. The Muslim league endorsing the congress demand for full independence and cooperating with it in forming an interim government in the transition period.


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.


On February 18, 1946, a section of non-commissioned officers and sailors known as Ratings, serving in the Royal Indian Navy, mutinied against the British Officers.

The mutiny started as a strike by the ratings to protest against the hardships regarding pay, food and racial discrimination.

  • In the same night, a Naval Central Strike committee was created by the Ratings.

  • This committee was presided by Signalman M.S Khan and Vice president was Petty Officer Telegraphist Madan Singh.

The populace of India was already fascinated by the heroic tales of the Indian National Army. So, the strikes and hartals spread from Bombay to Calcutta, Madras and even Karachi. The foolish British commander made some derogatory remarks on the nationality of these personnel and the result was that they took possession of some ships, mounted guns over there and started firing.

  • The mutineers hoisted three flags tied together on the ships which they had captured -One of Congress, One of Muslim League, and the third Red Flag of the Communist Party of India.

The mutiny was ended by intervention of Sardar Patel, who after a meeting with M. S. Khan made a statement of ending the strike. The similar statement was made by Jinnah in Calcutta. The mutineers surrendered but despite the assurances of Congress and Muslim League, many mutineers were arrested, subjected to court martial and dismissed from the services.

The violence broke out in Mumbai and over 200 people lost lives in this disturbance. The mutiny made an impression on the British, that it would be better to leave the country. On February 19, the second day of this mutiny, Cabinet Mission was sent to India.


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 thereshall be a Union of India which was to be empowered to deal with the defense, foreign affairs and communications.

  • The cabinet missionrecommended an undivided India and turned down the Muslim league’s demand for a separate Pakistan. The Cabinetmission 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 havelimited 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“.



The Prime Minister of Britain Clement Atlee declared on February 20, 1947 in the House of Commons that the British would quit India after transferring power into the responsible hand not later than June 1948. The idea was that the Indians should settle their issues before that.

He also announced the appointment of Lord Mountabatten as Viceroy in place of Lord Wavell.

By June 1947, Congress had given consent to partition. On June 3, 1947, Prime Minister Atlee announced the Partition Plan or June 3 Plan in the House of Commons. The plan laid down the following provisions.

  • The provincial legislative Assemblies of Bengal and Punjab would meet in two parts separately, one representing Muslim majority districts and another representing the Hindu Majority districts to decide by the vote on partition.

  • In case of Sind and Baluchistan, the provincial assemblies would take the decision.

  • In case of NWFP, the decision had to be taken on the base of referendum.

  • A referendum was to be organized in Sylhet region of Assam which was Muslim majority.

  • The Paramount of the princely states will not be transferred to either of India or Pakistan. So, they would in theory become sovereign when India is partitioned.

Congress accepted the plan. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan called the Congress treacherous which has thrown the Khudai Khidmatgars to wolves. The partition became realty soon. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan rejected the referendum but the voting was done in favour of Pakistan.

Partition Committee and Partition Council

Partition Committee was formed which was chaired by Lord Mountbatten and its members were Vallabh Bhai Patel, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Liaqat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar. Later this committee was replaced by a Partition Council. In this council, Congress was represented by Sardar Patel and Dr. Rajendra Prasad, with C. Rajgopalachari as alternate member. Muslim league was represented by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar as alternate member. Please note that even after 15 August 1947, this partition council was in existence, but the composition was changed as 2 members from each dominion. Patel and Dr. Prasad kept representing Indian Domain even at that time.

Indian Independence Act 1947

The Indian Independence Act was based upon the Mountbatten plan of 3rdJune 1947 and was passed by the British parliament on July 5, 1947. It received royal assent on July 18, 1947.  It provided for two dominion states: India and Pakistan.  The boundaries between the two dominion states were to be determined by a Boundary Commission {under Sir Cyril Radcliff}.  It provided for partition of Punjab & Bengal and separate boundary commissions to demarcate the boundaries between them.  The authority of the British Crown over the princely states ceased and they were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent. Both the dominions of India and Pakistan were to have Governor Generals to be appointed by the British King. The act also provided for a common Governor General if both of them agreed. The constituent assemblies of both the states were free to make constitutions of their respective countries.  For the time being till the constitution was made, both of them would be governed in accordance with the Government of India act 1935.  Any modification or omission could be done by the Governor General. British Government would not continue any control on any dominion. The Governor General was invested with adequate powers until March 1948 to issue orders for effective implementation of the provisions of the Indian independence act 1947. Those civil servants who had been appointed before the August 15, 1947, will continue in service with same privileges.


Jinnah left for Karachi on August 7, 1947. Here the Constituent assembly of Pakistan met on August 11, 1947 and elected him the President. Three days later, he was sworn in as Governor General of Pakistan. On the midnight of 14 August and 15 August 1947, India and Pakistan came into existence. The Constituent assembly then appointed Lord Mountbatten as the First Governor General of the Indian Dominion. In the Morning of August 15, 1947, a new cabinet headed by Jawahar Lal Nehru was sworn in. India paid a heavy price, thereafter in the form of thousands of lives that got burnt in the fire of partition.