Wavell Plan 1945 and Shimla Conference

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After the failure of Cripps plan 1942, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India offered proposals known as the Wavell Plan 1945. The whole process of Cripps Mission to India seemed to be only a propaganda move without any intention of accepting to India’s demands.

Why Wavell Plan was introduced?

A second world war was raging in Asia where Japan had yet to lose. The world’s attention was now focused on the Eastern front. Military operations were planned in India against Japan. Indians were needed as much as ever before to give the British moral and material support. As a result, the British Government made a new settlement offer.

Churchill was also accused of being unable to handle the constitution crisis in India by the Labour Party. Upon the completion of Lord Linlithgow’s term in October, 1943, Lord Wavell became the new Viceroy of India.

After the failure of the Cripps proposals, the All India Congress Committee met at Bombay in August 1942 to discuss the situation arising out of the latest development. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to launch the ‘Quit India Movement’. So, he tried to pass the resolution of ‘Quit India Movement’ by the Indian National Congress. The All India Congress Committee passed its resolution on 8th August 1942 known as ‘Quit India Resolution.’ The INC declared ‘Quit India Movement’ from 9th August 1942. The British Government had arrested all the Congress leaders and banning all Congress organization throughout India.

On these circumstances, Lord Wavell visited England for consultations in March 1945. Soon, the results of those consultations became clear. He announced his plan on 4th June 1945 with approval of His Majesty’s Government for India.

Main Provisions of the Wavell Plan

The plan was a sort of interim arrangement till a new constitution for India was framed and agreed by Indians. There was provision of the reconstitution of Viceroy’s Executive. It was to have only two Englishmen the Viceroy acting as its President and the Commander-in-Chief holding war portfolio. All other members except the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief were to be Indians.

The External Affairs Department was to be transferred to Indian hands.

The Viceroy agreed that he would not exercise his veto power unreasonably.

The proposals were designed to advance India towards her goal of full self-government. The plan proposed to appoint a High Commissioner to look after Great Britain’s Commercial interests in India. The new Executive Council was to work under the Government of India Act of 1935. It was to work like a Provisional National Government. The executive was to include equal number of Hindus and Muslims.

Why Shimla Conference Failed?

Because most of the political leaders were in jail, the country’s political activity was virtually at a standstill. Lord Wavell ordered the release of all the Congress Working Committee members in order to enable the Congress leaders to attend the conference as well as make the atmosphere more conducive to settlement.

For the discussion of Plan, Wavell arranged a conference known as ‘Simla Conference’ on 29th June 1945. Wavell sent invitations to 21 leaders including the former Chief Ministers of Provincial Governments, the leaders of the Congress and the League in the Council of State, Gandhiji and Jinnah and one representative each of the Sikhs and the Scheduled Castes. The political conference began its deliberations in Simla on 29th June, 1945.

The provision of parity of Hindus and Muslims in the Viceroy’s Executive created problem. The Indian National Congress unwillingly agreed to equal representation of Hindus and Muslims but opposed Jinnah’s demand that only the Muslim League should have the sole right to nominate all the Muslims to the Council.

In the Wavell Plan, there were more Muslim representatives than there were Muslims in the total population. But despite this, the League wanted the right to veto any constitutional amendment it deemed incompatible with its interests. The Congress also opposed this unreasonable request.

Mr. Jinnah could not agree to the appointment in Executive Council of Muslims who did not belong to the League. The talks failed on the issue. Lord Wavell announced the failure of conference on 14th July 1945.

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