Sisters and brothers in India! The latest news from Simla affords a silver-lining in the cloud that is ahead of us today. Today, the representatives of the Muslim League have insisted that all the seats in the Viceroy’s Executive Council earmarked for Muslims should go to the Muslim League and to the Muslim League alone. It is but natural that the Congress should refuse to accept this position and to insist that at least some of the seats earmarked for Muslims should go to Nationalist Muslims who are outside the Muslim League. I only hope and pray that the Congress will not budge an inch from this position out of extreme eagerness to accept the British offer. To submit to the unreasonable demand of the Muslim League on this question would amount to political suicide for the Congress.
I have no doubt in my mind that should the unexpected happen and the Congress surrender to the Muslim League on this fundamental and all-important question there will be a revolt within the Congress. Not only will the entire left-wing revolt against such a decision, but large numbers of Congressmen who are not left-wingers will also join in the revolt. I am extremely happy to learn that representatives of five Nationalist Muslim organisations have recently held a conference in New Delhi and have reiterated their declaration that the Muslim League is not the only representative organisation of the Muslims of India. The summoning of this conference is an indication that party differences in India are beginning to assert itself. I only hope that those organisations and individuals who are hostile to it or are suspicious of Lord Wavell’s offer put up a combined opposition. In the first place it appears to me eminently desirable that all Nationalist Muslim organisations in India should make their voice heard. Perhaps the Azad Muslim League or the Jamiat-ul-Ulema will take the initiative in convening a representative conference of Nationalist Muslim organisation from all over India. From the report which is before me I find that in the recent conference held in New Delhi, representatives of the Khudai-Khidmatgars of the Frontier Province and of the Praja Party of Bengal did not participate. It is also not clear if the Majlis-i-Ahrar took part in that conference. In the conference thatI have suggested it may even be possible to invite representatives of the Unionist Party of the Punjab because it is possible that the Muslim members of the Unionist Party will not accept the position that the Muslim League is the sole representative of the Muslims of India.
All those who feel as strongly as I do that in the interests of India and for the early achievement of India’s independence Lord Wavell’s offer should be rejected lock, stock and barrel, must continue their agitation until we are completely out of danger. Moreover, if we lose the first round and if the Congress ultimately accepts Lord Wavell’s offer, we must, nevertheless, continue our activity so that a situation may be created in which the Congress will be compelled to resign from the Viceroy’s Executive Council. In a revolutionary struggle we can never afford to be disheartened, discouraged or depressed, especially at a time when so much depends on the success of the campaign.
Mahatma Gandhi’s wise decision in not participating in the Simla Conference gives us some hope that the tragedy may yet be averted. I can understand why the Muslim League representatives have resented the invitation to Maulana Azad to attend the conference. What Mahatma Gandhi has done is not only magnificently proper, but has been a particularly wise step. It would have been a very great injustice to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad personally and to the large number of the Congress Muslims who have made tremendous sacrifices in the cause of India’s freedom, if the Congress President had not been allowed to lead the Congress delegation to the Simla Conference simply because he happens to be a Muslim.
I am surprised to find that in his negotiations with the Congress, Mr Jinnah did not deal directly with the Congress President but paid commodious lip service to Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant as an intermediary between himself and the Congress President. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, by leading the Congress delegation, has been able to render a great service to India by making the voice of India felt in the conference. There is no doubt that by his non-participation in the Simla Conference Mahatma Gandhi has enhanced his personal position and prestige. It is also not new to him to keep out of the whole situation thus making it possible for him to put himself at the forefront at the right moment and advise the rejection of the proposed offer. Meanwhile, the danger continues and we can’t afford to waste our time. I, therefore, hope and trust that all lovers and supporters of Indian independence will continue their efforts to secure a rejection of the British offer which is a great menace to the cause of India’s freedom. Once this obstacle is removed fromthe path of India’s freedom, the Indian people will be able to regain their mental balance and to prepare a first-class plan to continue the national struggle till complete independence is achieved.