Atlee Government in February 1946 send a committee of three British Cabinet Members: Pethick Lawrence (Secretary of State for India), Stafford Cripps (President of the Board of Trade) and A.V. Alexander (First Lord of Admiralty) to India to negotiate the transfer of power to India.
Why Cabinet Mission was sent to India?
- Nationalism has entered into almost every section of Indian population(Military & Civil Services)
- After the failure of the Cripps Mission and Wavell Plan there was very little to offer to Indians except compete transfer of power.
- Revolt from Royal Indian Navy and the Indianisation of Civil Services had ended the British domination on these professions.
- British Government realized that for good future of India British relations it was necessary to transfer power as early as possible.
Provisions of Cabinet Mission were:
- Cabinet Mission rejected the demand of the Muslim League for a full fledged Pakistan because,
- the Pakistan so formed would include a large non Muslim population 38% in the North West and 48% in the North East.
- Regional ties between Bengal and Punjab would be disturbed.
- There will be a communication problem between Western and Eastern parts of Pakistan.
- Grouping of existing provincial assemblies into three sections:
Section A: Madras, Bombay, Central Provinces, United Provinces, Bihar and Orissa
Section B: Punjab, North West Frontier Province and Sind
Section C: Bengal and Assam
- Constituent Assembly to be elected by provincial assemblies by proportional representation from three groups namely- Generals, Muslims and Sikhs. There will be 389 members in the Constituent Assembly.
- Provinces to have full autonomy and residual powers as well.
- Idea of Separatism for Princely states: Princely states would be free to enter into an agreement with the successor governments or the British Government.
- After First General Elections, a province was free to come out of a group and after 10 years a Province was free to come out of a group or the Union.
- A common centre would control defense, communication and external affairs.
Reactions of the Cabinet Mission
- Congress wanted that the Provinces should not wait until the First General Election to come out from the group. They should have the option to come out from the group in the first place itself (Congress had North Western Frontier Provinces and Assam in mind)
- Absence of provision of elected members from the Princely states.
- Grouping should be compulsory. Muslim League thought that Section B and Section C would accede into Pakistan.