845.01/143: Telegram

The Officer in Charge at New Delhi (Merrell) to the Secretary of State

132. Reference this office’s 130, March 31, 2 p.m.40 It is reported that the Congress Working Committee reached a unanimous decision on the Cripps proposal yesterday afternoon. The decision is now being drafted in the form of a memorandum which it is believed will be presented to Cripps by Maulana Azad at an interview arranged for 4:30 this afternoon. Objection to the scheme will it is reported rest principally on nontransfer of defense to an Indian defense member and Cripps’ intransigence on this point has caused even Rajagopalachari41 to fall in line with the majority view. An unconfirmed rumor suggests that Cripps has telegraphed Churchill for authorization to compromise on defense issue. It is also reported that the Congress will oppose the scheme on the ground that it unnecessarily presupposes vivisection of the country whereas the first part of the declaration should only promise dominion status and a Constituent Assembly after the war leaving details to be worked out by the Indian leaders themselves.

The Muslim Malapert [League?] which in effect means Mister Jinnah has remained very quiet of late. This may mean that he anticipates Congress rejection of the scheme in which event he would be in a position to say that the question of the League defining its attitude to the proposals does not arise.

The Hindu Mahasabha in an official memorandum has definitely rejected the proposals, chiefly because of the Pakistan provision.

Even Sapru42 is dissatisfied with the defense provision. In a joint statement issued yesterday, Sapru and Jayakar43 stated that “we regret that more emphasis has been laid on the constitution of the future than on the immediate needs. We think therefore that if a satisfactory formula could be devised in respect of the defense portfolio, the mission of Sir Stafford Cripps might still succeed. It is not probably realized in England and Allied countries that Indian opinion cannot look upon any transfer of power as real unless the Government of India is so constituted as to give an effective share [Page 625] to the country in the management of its defence. We would therefore urge you that immediate attention be concentrated on this question”.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, former Premier of Madras and a leading Indian Nationalist but who favored active resistance to the Japanese and a settlement with the Muslim League.
  3. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, President of the Non-Party Conference.
  4. Mu Kund Ramrao Jayakar, Member of Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.