“There are two sides to every story—and then there’s the truth.”
Hi, Everyone! Now that Jinnah was not ready to agree to anything based on promises to be fulfilled after independence, something more definite was required. At this point Gandhi cooked up the Bhulabhai-Liaquat Pact in 1945.
I have already given the details of this Pact and the circumstances around it in my post of October 20, 2012, so won’t repeat it here. But the features of this Pact, as drafted by Gandhi, were quite diabolical:
· Congress and the Muslim League would share the government seats fifty-fifty, with 20% reservation for all others considered as minorities.
· No elections.
This was basis on which Bhulabhai Desai and Jinnah would form a Government. This was the deal that Bhulabhai submitted to Viceroy Wavell.
· A direct stab in the heart of Mother India.
· No chance for any other party besides Congress and the Muslim League to represent India.
In this deal, however, Gandhi had overreached himself. Nehru and Sardar, livid at being sidelined from being top dogs in the Government, took the unprecedented step to squash this Pact in the Working Committee of the Congress. Gandhi quickly washed his hands off both the Pact and Bhulabhai.
But the deed was done! Wavell had taken this Pact to London and returned with a proposal based on it.
Viceroy Wavell was quite a different kettle of fish from Linlithgow. He was not concerned with fairness to all the parties and also had a decided partiality toward the Muslims. He held a Conference in Simla to disclose the proposal he had brought back. Representatives of all parties except the Hindu Mahasabha were invited to the Conference. He assumed that the Congress represented the Caste Hindus.
· With this move, the Hindu Mahasabha was not allowed to give an opinion in the saving of India.
· The fate of India was in the hands of the treacherous Congress and the Muslim League, both hell-bent on partition.
The Hindu Mahasabha made massive protests against the unjust Simla Conference all over India and even in Simla itself.
The proposal that Wavell had brought back, though based on the Bhulabhai-Liaquat Pact, differed in one very significant way from it.
· There was the same fifity-fifty sharing of seats, not between the Congress and the League, but between Hindus and the Muslims.
This put a dent in the aspirations of both the Congress and the League. The league wanted to be the only representatives of the Muslims. The Congress, of course, wanted to be the only representatives of all! They not only wanted Congress members for the Hindu seats, but for the Muslim and other minority seats as well . . . ! And quite shamelessly angled for it with Wavell.
(On an aside, no matter what sacrifice India had to suffer, the Congress did not once waver from their goal of total control, ever.)
What with the protests of the Hindu Mahasabha and the dissatisfaction of the Congress and the League at not attaining their goals, the Simla Conference was a failure.
Desperate, Wavell announced that elections would be held by end of December 1945 at the central and later on at the provincial level to decide which parties would play a part in governing free India. Winners of the election would negotiate the final deal of independence with the British.
· This was not a good moment for the Congress! An open election meant the power in free India could very well slip through their hands.
· Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha stood a very good chance of capturing the Hindu seats.
· The Muslim seats were as good as in the Leagues hands.
But the Congress High Command, master schemers of dastardly acts that they were, found their way out of this bind!
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