Cabinet Mission in India

Clement Attlee, the New Prime Minister of Britain, sent the Cabinet Mission Plan to India to discuss the transfer of power to the Indians. The Cabinet Mission arrived in 1946 in India and it consisted of three cabinet members.

Clauses of the Cabinet Mission Plan

  • The Cabinet mission proposed the formation of the federal union of the British Provinces and princely states in India. The Central Government was to have control of the defence, foreign affairs and communications in the country.
  • It was laid down that the Indian Union was to have its own executive and legislature and Provinces had the power to enjoy complete autonomy for all subjects other than union subjects.
  • The British Provinces were to be divided into groups. There were three major groups and a province could opt out of any group and join another by a majority of votes.
  • It proposed the setting up of a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India. It was to consist of 389 members. The members were to be elected by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies.
  • Provision was made to give separate representation to the Muslims and the Sikhs.
  • An interim government was to be formed at the Centre with 14 members.
  • India had the choice to decide if it wanted to remain within the British Commonwealth or to secede from it.
  • A treaty had to be made between the Constituent Assembly and Britain for settling matters which could arise out of the transfer of powers.

Why did the Cabinet Mission Plan reject the demand for Pakistan?

  • The Cabinet Mission Plan felt that the creation of Pakistan would not solve communal problems as the percentage of Muslims living in northwestern Pakistan would be 37.93%.
  • There can be no justification for including non-Muslim districts of Bengal, Punjab and Assam into Pakistan.
  • The princely states would find it difficult to decide to join India or Pakistan.
  • It would be difficult to divide the armed forces, and the post and telegraph system.

Reaction to the Cabinet Mission Plan

Congress accepted the proposals with certain reservations. While it accepted the scheme which dealt with the Constituent Assembly, it rejected the proposals of the Viceroy to form an interim government as it would have limited powers. The Muslim League accepted the proposals completely. It felt that the grouping together of Muslim majority provinces would anyway lead to the formation of Pakistan.

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