Monday, April 12, 2010

Cripps Mission, 1942

Cripps Mission was deputed in early 1942, to contain the political crisis obtained in India. The mission wa headed by the Stafford Cripps, a cabinet Minister.Cripps a radical member of the Labour Party and the then leader of the House of Commons, was known as a strong supporter of Indian National Movement. Cripps Mission was prompted by two factors. First, Gandhi's call for the Satyagraha movement in Oct 1940, designed to embarrass Britain's war efforts by a mass upheaval in India and needed to be  ended in the British interest. Secondly, the fall of Singapore (15 Feb 1942), Rangoon (8 March), and the Andaman (23rd March) to the Japanese was threatening the entire fabric of Britain colonial empire. In the face of this crisis, the felt obliged to make some gestures  to win over Indian Public support.
The Cripps offer reiterated the intention of the British Govt. to set up an Indian Union within he British Commonwealth as soon as possible after the war , and proposed specific steps towards that end . A constituent assembly would be elected by the provincial legislatures acting as an electoral college. This body would then negotiate a treaty with the British Govt .The future right of secession for the commonwealth was explicitly stated. The Indian states would be revised to meet the new situation.
The offer dominated Indian politics for the rest of the war. Although the British official circles claimed that that the Cripps offer marked a great advance for its frankness and precisions. It was plagued throughout and ultimately torpedoed, by numerous ambiguities and misunderstandings . The Congress was very critical of the clauses regarding nomination of the states representatives by the rulers and the provincial options . Jawarharlal Nehru had desperately sought a settlement largely because of his desire to mobilize Indian support in the anti-fascist warm while most  Congress working Committee members and Gandhi himself had been apathetic. This embittered Congress- British relations and things were then rapidly moving towards a total confrontation in the form of Quit India movement. But Cripps blamed the Congress for the failure of the plan, while the Congress held the British Govt responsible          
for it. A chance of establishing a united Independent India was lost..