845.01/191: Telegram

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

304. For the President, Secretary and Colonel Louis Johnson.74 Information received from extremely reliable private sources in Bombay and Wardha is to the effect that Gandhi75 is planning to launch-mass civil disobedience in near future in contrast to his Satyagraha Program instituted 2 years ago which was civil disobedience only by selected individuals. Gandhi went to Bombay last week to consult with his most trusted lieutenants and the latter (Patel, Prasad, and Gopich and among others) are now touring the provinces to ascertain what measure of support mass civil disobedience would receive. Gandhi has been warned that such a program would result in civil war in this country, cause absolute chaos, and make India an easy prey for the Japanese. He is reliably reported to be unmoved by such warnings.

It is anticipated that the movement, aside from the usual disobedience of the law, will take the form of agitation against recruitment, war production and the general war effort. It is estimated that Gandhi will require from 4 to 6 weeks to organize the movement properly. I am firmly convinced that if this program is launched India is lost as far as being of any further use to the United Nations is concerned.

Recent developments indicate that the Gandhi element in the Congress is now in the saddle.

The only possible means of thwarting Gandhi’s new move would appear to be an agreement by Nehru,76 Rajagopalachari77 and Jinnah78 to form a National Government at the center. Gandhi could then hardly launch civil disobedience against his own people.

As far as I can ascertain, Gandhi has not consulted Nehru and it is almost certain that he has not consulted Rajagopalachari.

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Nehru returns to Delhi from a brief holiday on Saturday morning and Berry79 proposes to see him soon after his arrival. A report of the interview will be telegraphed to you.

  1. Personal Representative of the President in India; at this time in the United States.
  2. Mohandas K. Gandhi, leader of civil disobedience movement in India.
  3. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress Party leader; associated with Gandhi in opposition to British rule in India.
  4. C. Rajagopalachari, former Premier of Madras; Nationalist leader.
  5. Mohamed Ali Jinnah, President of the Muslim League.
  6. James Lampton Berry, Secretary of the American Mission at New Delhi.