845.00/1378: Telegram

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

489. The resolution of the Working Committee97 (reference my 488, July 14, 3 p.m.98) is considered comparatively moderate and bears witness to the efforts of Nehru and Azad (reference my 476, July 9, 7 p.m. and 484, July 11, 2 p.m.).99 It will be apparent to the Department that the resolution is remarkably similar, in some [Page 680] places the wording is identical, to Gandhi’s letter to Chiang Kai-shek (the really pertinent parts of which bear the indelible imprint of Nehru’s style rather than Gandhi’s) and to Nehru’s various messages to Colonel Johnson which were telegraphed to Department by this office. It will be noted that resolution abandons Gandhi’s untenable position that Allied forces could remain in India for sole purpose of resisting Japanese aggression (reference my 480, July 10, 3 p.m.1).

While the resolution states Congress’ grievances and demand for complete transfer of power in no uncertain terms, it is nonetheless replete with conciliatory passages and gestures. That Government was surprised by relative mildness of resolution is evidenced by fact that home member has canceled press conference he planned to hold immediately after release of resolution (reference my 484, July 11, 2 p.m.) and that Government is permitting publication of full text of resolution. It is accordingly unlikely that Government will take action against Congress unless latter launches movement after meeting on August 7 of All India Congress Committee to which resolution has been referred (reference section 2 of 476, July 9, 7 p.m.). In addition, Gandhi, if he follows his past practise will, after approval by All India Congress Committee, formally refer resolution to Viceroy with request that it be forwarded to London. This will further delay matters and no important developments are therefore anticipated until latter half of August.

Reference is made to that part of the resolution which provides for the convening of a constitutent assembly “in order to prepare a constitution for the Government of India acceptable to all sections of the people”. This is interpreted by a Congressman very close to Gandhi and Nehru as a veiled gesture to Muslim League since by implication it recognizes the right of self-determination of the Muslims should the new constitution prove unacceptable to them.

It is anticipated that overwhelming majority of press opinion will approve of substantive parts of resolutions but there will be opposition, even among sections of nationalist press, to launching civil disobedience at this time. Some Congress minded papers notably the Bombay Chronicle and the Lahore Tribune, have already in recent weeks expressed opposition to Gandhi’s threatened campaign.

In a statement to the press this afternoon Gandhi said: “There is no room left, in the proposal for withdrawal, for negotiation; either they recognize India’s independence or they don’t”. I interpret this as pure bombast as I am convinced Congress would accept compromise in line with its demands during Cripps’ negotiations and form national government [Page 681] under present constitution provided certain conventions were agreed upon.

Nehru is passing through Delhi Thursday and Berry is dining with him that evening. Any significant statements made by Nehru will be cabled to Department immediately.

Reactions to and developments in connection with resolution will be telegraphed as they occur.

  1. For text, see British Cmd. 6430: India, Statement published by the Government of India on the Congress Party’s responsibility for the Disturbances in India, 1942–43, p. 42.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. Not printed.