845.00/12–1146: Telegram

The Chargé in India (Merrell) to the Secretary of State


1206. I had good opportunity of stressing points in Deptel 919, December 1 [11] to Nehru last night. He replied at once that neither he nor his colleagues had any idea that expressions of US interest had been made at instance British; they realized opinions were offered spontaneously and in interest of India and world. He said also that Congress realized thoroughly necessity of starting union with weak center.

He then embarked on restrained but lengthy attack on Jinnah who he said had Hindu background and lived according to Hindu law, Nehru himself being imbued with more Muslim culture, linguistically and in other ways, than Jinnah. He said Congress had endeavored at various stages to learn what Jinnah wanted and had never been able to receive satisfactory replies; that even Pakistan had never been adequately defined. Congress was convinced that whereas Jinnah might want some change he did not want democratic government; that prominent Leaguers being landholders preferred to continue under antiquated land laws. Congress had not liked British cabinet mission proposal but in interest of peaceful and fair settlement had formed interim government on understanding that League would cooperate. On contrary League members had announced publicly that they joined Cabinet in order to fight. Now they were saying privately that if they entered Constituent Assembly it would be with purpose of wrecking it.

Nehru believed League was on point of joining Constituent Assembly when London talks were called and HMG “threw spanner into works” by announcing that constitution would not be forced on any unwilling parts of country. There was now little incentive for League to join. Nevertheless he felt League would join in end just as it had joined interim government.

Finally Nehru stated that despite foregoing Congress would probably shortly follow HMG’s suggestion of submitting question of voting in sections to federal court although it realized that under circumstances it would be difficult for court to give fair decision and that in any event if decision were unfavorable to League and HMG they would not accept it.

Please repeat to London.