Nationalist Response in the wake of World War II

v  Congress crisis on method of struggle

§  In the aftermath of the CDM, there was some disarray Within the congress.

§  In Gandhi’s perception there was rising corruption and indiscipline in the organisation.

§  There were issues of bogus membership and unethical means employed in trying to getting into the congress Committees and controlling them.

Ø  Haripura and Tripuri sessions : Subhas Bose’s views.

§  Subhas chandra Bose was president of the Bengal provincial congress committee.

§  His main area work lay in the organisation of the youth and promoting the trade union movement.

§  Bose did not agree with Gandhi and other leaders of the congress. He along with Jawaharlal Nehru opposed the Motilal Nehru Report which spoke of dominion status for India.

§  He was all for full independence. He announced the formation of the Independence League.

§  He was fully active in the salt satyagraha movement in 1930.

§  He was vehemently against the suspension of the CDM and the signing of the Gandhi – Irwin Pact in 1931.         


§  At the congress meeting in Haripura, Gujarat, in February 1938, Bose was unanimously elected president of the session.

§   He talked of economic development of the country through planning and was instrumental in setting up a National planning committee later.

§  The session adopted a revolution that the congress would give moral support to those who were agitating against the governance in the princely states.

          1939: Subhas Bose wins but congress Faces Internal strife

§  In January 1939, Subhas chandra Bose decided to stand again for the president{sin-quite}s post in the congress.

§  Gandhi was not happy with Bose{sin-quite}s candidature.

§  Gandhi supported {sin-quite}Pattabhi sitaramayya" as the candidate.

§  Bose won the election by 1580 votes against 1377.

§  He got the full support of the congress socialist party and the communists.

§  Gandhi congratulated Bose on has victory but also declared that "Pattabhi{sin-quite}s defeat is my defeat".


§  In March 1939, the congress session took place at Tripuri, in the central provinces (near Jabalpur in present Madhya Pradesh).

§  The working committee, the ruling body of the congress, is not elected, but nominated by the president.

§  The Election of " president is thus a constitutional opportunity through which the membership expressed the nature of the leadership of the congress.

§  Subhas was in favour of giving a six- month ultimatum to Britain to grant the national demand of independence.

§  If the ultimatum was rejected, he said, a mass CDM should be launched .

§  Bose felt that advantage should be taken of the international crisis to strive for independence.

§  Gandhi , on the other hand , was firm in the belief that it was not the time for such ultimatums as neither the congress not the masses were yet ready for struggle.

§  Bose was asked to nominate a Working Committee “in accordance with the wishes of Gandhi Ji”.

§  He refused to nominate a new working committee. He wanted an immediate struggle led by Gandhi, where as Gandhi was firm in his belief that the time was not ripe for struggle .

§  Bose resigned from the president{sin-quite}s post in April 1939.

§  Rajendra Prasad as president of the congress was elected later.

§  In May, Bose and his followers formed the Forward Bloc ( at Makur, Unnao) as a new party within the congress.

§  When he gave a call for an all-India protest on July 9 against an AICC resolution, the congress working committee took disciplinary action against Bose.

§  In August 1939, Bose was removed from the post of president of the Bengal provincial congress committee besides being debarred from holding any elective office in the congress for a period of three years.

v  Gandhi and Bose - Ideological Differences

§  In 1942, Gandhi called Bose the " prince among the patriots. Gandhi said that Netaji{sin-quite}s "patriotism is second to none... His bravery shines through all his actions. He aimed high and failed. But who has not failed”.  On other occasion Gandhi said "Netaji will remain immortal for all time to come for his service to India."

Ø  Similarities in their Ideologies.:

§  Both personalities considered socialism to be the way forward in independent India.

§  Both were religious men and disliked communism.

§  Both worked against untouchability and spoke of women{sin-quite}s emancipation.

Ø  Differences in their Ideologies :

                     I.         Non-violence versus Militant Approach.

·       Gandhi was a firm believer in ahimsa and satyagraha, the non-violent way to gain any goal. He believed that it was the way in which the masses could be involved.

·       But Subhas believed that violent resistance alone could oust the alien imperialist rule from India.

He considered the Gandhi{sin-quite}s civil Disobedience Campaign as an effective means of paralysing the administration, but did not think it to be efficacious.

                   II.         Means and Ends .

§  Bose had his eye on the result of war, he saw the situation as an opportunity to take advantage of the British Weakness.

§  He had no compunction or moral issue ( Pachtawa ) in taking help of the Nazis or the Fascists and later of Imperial Japan.

§  But for Gandhiji one could not Just use any means to achieve an end however desirable that end may be.

§  He had a deep dislike for the ideas of the Fascists and for Nazis. He saw them as dangerous powers.

                III.         Form of government.

§  In his early writings, Bose expressed the opinion that democracy was the acceptable political system for India. But late, he seemed to have veered towards the idea that, at least in the beginning, a democratic system would not be adequate for the process of nation rebuilding and the eradication of poverty and social inequality.

§  Gandhi{sin-quite}s idealise state, Ramrajya did not need a representative government, a constitution, an army or a police force. Capitalism, Communism, Exploitation, and religious violence would be absent.

§  Gandhi was opposed to centralisation. He believed in decentralisation of Political well as Economic power. 

                  IV.         Militarism

§  Subhas Bose was deeply attracted to military discipline and was thankful for the basic training we received In the university unit of the India Defence Force.

§  Gandhi was against the military on the whole. His Ramrajya, being built on the concept of truth and non- violence and self- regulation, would be a perfect place and would not require either police or grandiose armies. 

                     V.         Ideas on Economy.

§  Gandhi wanted a decentralised economy without state council. He was against large - scale industrialisation.

§  According to Gandhi, if a person had inherited wealth or had made a lot of money through trade and industry, the amount was to be shared with the entire society and must be spent on the welfare of all.

§  But Bose considered economic freedom to be the essence of social and political freedom. He was all in favour of modernisation and industrialisation. 

                  VI.         Religion  ( similarity )

§  Gandhi was primarily a man of religion.

§  He claimed that religion is a binding force and not a dividing force .

§  Subhas Bose believed in Upanishadic teachings. He revered the Bhagavad Gita and was inspired by Vivekananda.

§  Common celebrations of all religious festivals took place in the INA.

§  Bose said Religion is a private matter, the state has nothing to do with it.

               VII.         Caste and Untouchability (Similarity)

§  Gandhi was opposed of untouchability. But he supported the Varna System; he believed that the laws of caste were eternal, and were the base for social harmony.

§  But Subhas Base completely rejected social inequality and the caste system and untouchability ..

§  He spoke in favour of inter-caste marriages . 

             VIII.         Women ( similarity )

§  In Gandhi{sin-quite}s words," To call women the weaker sex is a libel; it is man{sin-quite}s injustice to women".

§  He played an important role in uplifting the status of women in India.

§  He was instrumental in bringing women out of their homes to take part in the struggle for freedom.

§  He vehemently opposed various social ills affect women like child marriage, the dowry system and female infanticide, and the treatment of the widows.

§  Bose considered women to be the equals of men, and thus they should be prepared to fight and sacrifice for the freedom of India.

§  He was all for abolition of Purdah and also supported widow marriage. 

                  IX.         Education.

§  Gandhi was against the English system of education as also against the use of English as a medium of instruction.

§  He wanted education to be in the vernacular. He advocated free and compulsory education for all boys and girls between 7 and 14 years.

§  But Bose was for higher education, specially in technical and scientific fields, as he wanted an industrial India.

§  He wanted Indian students to be sent abroad for training in accordance with a clear and definite plan so that as soon as they returned home, they may proceed straight away to build up new industries”. 

v  Second World War And Nationalistic Response

§  On September 1, 1939. Germany attacked Poland - the action that led to the second world war.

§  On September 3, 1939, the Britain declared war against Germany and the British Govt. of India declared India{sin-quite}s support for the war without consulting Indian opinion. 

Ø  Congress Offer To Viceroy.

§  The Indian offer to cooperate in the war effort had two basic conditions: -

1 .After the war, a constituent assembly should be convened to determine political structure of a free India.

2. some form of a genuinely responsible government should be established at the centre. 

Ø  CWC Meeting at Wardha (September 10- 14, 1939) .

§  Gandhi advocated an unconditional support to the Allied powers (Britain)

§  Subhas Bose and other Socialists, Such as Acharya Narendra Dev and Jay Prakash Narayan, had no sympathy for either side in the war.

     They thought it was the ideal time to launch a CDM, to thus take advantage of the situation and snatch freedom from Britain.

§  Jawaharlal Nehru was not ready to accept the opinion of either Gandhi or of the socialists.

       He advocated no Indian participation in the war till India itself was free.

§  The CWC resolution said that No Indian participation unless freedom is guaranteed. And government should declare its war aim soon.

v  Government Attitude and Congress Ministries{sin-quite} Resignation.

§  The government{sin-quite}s response was entirely negative.

§  On October 17,1939, viceroy Linlithgow, in his statement, tried to use the Muslim league and the princes against the congress.

§  The government :

                                 i.         Said that British war aim is to resist aggression.

                                ii.         Said that all interest groups are to be consulted to modify 1935 Act for future.

                              iii.         Said it would immediately set up a " consultative committee” for advising functions.

Ø  Government{sin-quite}s Hidden Agenda

§  Was “to take advantage of the way to regain the lost ground from the congress, to acquire draconian powers.

§  But soon it became clear that the British government had no intention of loosing its hold, during or after the war, and was willing to treat the congress as an enemy.

Congress Ministers Decided to Resign.

§  on October 23, 1939, the CWC meetings:

                                     i.         Rejected the vice regal statements as a reiteration of the old imperialist policy.

                                   ii.         Decided not to support war:

                                  iii.         Called upon the congress ministries to resign in the  provinces.

                                Debate On The Question of Immediate Mass Satyagraha-

§  Gandhi and his supporters were not in favour of an immediate struggle because they felt that the :

                                     i.         Allied cause was Just.

                                   ii.         Communal sensitiveness and lack of Hindu-Muslim unity could result in communal riots.

                                  iii.         Congress organisation was in shambles and the atmosphere was not conducive for a mass struggle.

                                  iv.         Masses were not ready for a struggle.

§  In January 1940, Linlithgow stated, "Dominion status of Westminster variety, after the war, is the goal of British policy in India ".

Pakistan Resolution - Lahore ( March 1940 ) .

§  The Muslim league passed a resolution calling for ‘grouping of geographically contiguous areas where Muslims are in majority ( North-west, East ) into independent state’.

v  August Offer

§  The congress was ready to compromise, asking the govt. to let if form an interim government during the war period but the government was not interested.

§  The government came up with its own offer to get the cooperation of India in the war effort.

§  Linlithgow announced the August offer (August 1940) which proposed: -

i.                Dominion status as the objective for India,

ii.              expansion of viceroy{sin-quite}s executive council which would have a majority of Indians (would be drawn from major political parties).

iii.             setting up of a constituent Assembly after the war where mainly Indians would decide the constitution according to their social, political and Economic conceptions .

iv.             No future constitution be adopted without the consent of minority.

§  The congress rejected the August offer.

Ø  Evaluation

§  In July 1941, the viceroy{sin-quite}s executive council was enlarged to give the Indians a majority of 8 out of 12 for the first time, but the British remained in charge of defence, finance, and home.

§  A National Defence council was set up with purely advisory functions.

v  Individual Satyagraha (1940 – 1941)

§  Indian National Congress launched Individual Satyagraha under the leadership of Gandhiji in the year 1940. This movement has 2 phases. The second phase is also called Delhi Chalo Movement.

§  Background

                                                                       i.         By this time, Congress Ministries had already resigned in the provinces. Also, INC had rejected the August Offer.

                                                                      ii.         So, a political vacuum was created and a section of INC was getting impatient and there was a demand to start a movement.

§  What lead to the initiation of Individual Satyagraha

§  There were 3 factors which lead to the initiation of Individual Satyagraha Movement in the year 1940.

                                                                          i.         On 3rd September 1939, Lord Linlithgow declared that India is going to support Britain in World War II. Neither the viceroy nor any British Authority consulted Indian political leadership before making such a declaration.

                It is an act of depriving ‘Right to Speech’.

                                                                         ii.         Defence of India Act 1939

   During the period of World War II, British government had imposed Defence of India Act 1939. As per this act, any person found criticizing the British government could be arrested without trial.

                                                                       iii.         Ordinances passed by the British Government to curb Right to speech.

     There were several ordinances passed by the British Government to restrict the right to free speech, freedom of Press and Right to Organize.

              Due to the reasons mentioned above, Right to Speech was severely compromised during this time. So, Gandhiji decided to launch a Satyagraha Movement against British Government. Satyagraha Movement launched was – Individual Satyagraha.

§  Why Individual Satyagraha and not any other Mass Movement ?

Gandhiji was not in favour of launching any mass movement at that time for 2 reasons;

1.      Mass Movements usually leads to violence as people tend to go out of control. As Gandhiji was a preacher of non-violence, he did not wanted to launch a Mass Movement.

2.     Secondly, He knew that British Government was at war during that time and He did not want to embarrass the British Govt. by launching a mass movement at such time.

§  Objectives of Individual Satyagraha

Aim of Individual Satyagraha were: -

1.      To show that nationalist patience was not due to weakness.

2.     To express people’s feeling that they were not interested in the war and that they made no distinction between Nazism and the double autocracy that ruled India.

3.     To give another opportunity to the government to accept congress demands peacefully.

§  Phases of Individual Satyagraha

Individual satyagraha happened in 2 phases.

First Phase – Started on 11 Oct 1940 and Ended on 14 Dec 1940

Second Phase – Started in Jan 1941 and Ended in Dec 1941.

1.   First Phase

Gandhiji choose 73 Satyagrahis. These chosen Satyagrahis had to go to a pre-decided place and speak openly against the war and had to declare that Indians do not support British government in World War II.

  A Satyagrahi had to repeat the above process by moving from one village to another, till the time police arrests him.

    Satyagrahi used to inform the District Magistrate about the location before every speech.

    First Satyagrahi of Individual Satyagraha was Acharya Vinoba Bhave. He was a spiritual disciple of Gandhiji. He started his satyagraha on 11 Oct 1940 from Pavanar, Maharashtra. For almost 10 days, He kept moving from one village to another by giving speeches. Then, on 21 Oct 1940 he was arrested.

   Second Satyagrahi was Jawahar Lal Nehru. He too got arrested on 31 Oct 1940.

   Third Satyagrahi was Brahmadatt.

Not many people joined this movement as it was not a mass movement by its nature.

On 14 Dec 1940, Gandhiji put this movement on hold.

2.   Second Phase

In Jan 1941, Gandhiji again started the movement. This is so-called the second phase of Individual Satyagraha. This time a large number of people joined this movement. Reason is that along with the other things done in first phase, Satyagrahi had to ask people to join them. Also, Satyagrahi had to keep moving towards Delhi until he is arrested by the police.

      Slogan raised in this phase was “Delhi Chalo” which became very famous. Thousands of people joined Satyagrahis in their journey towards Delhi. For this reason, this movement is called Delhi Chalo Andolan / Movement.

 By 15 May 1941 – 25000 people were arrested under Defence of India Act.

       In Dec 1941, Congress working committee passed a resolution that congress can support Britain in its war efforts if British government promise complete Independence after the War ends. With this resolution, Individual satyagraha ended.

v  Cripps Mission ( 1942)

§  In March 1942 , a mission headed by Stafford Cripps was sent to India with constitutional proposals to seek Indian support for the war.

§  Stafford Cripps was a left-wing Labourite, the leader of the House of commons, and a member of the British war cabinet who had actively supported the Indian national movement.

Ø  Why Cripps mission was sent

§  Because of the reverses suffered by Britain in south- East Asia, the Japanese threat to invade India seemed real now and Indian support become crucial.

§  There was pressure on Britain from the Allies (USA, USSR, china) to seek Indian cooperation in the war.

Ø  Main proposals.

The main proposals of the mission were as follows :

  1. An Indian union with a dominion status would be get up, with right to decide its relations with the commonwealth and free to participate in the UN and other international bodies.

  2. After the end of the war, a constituent assembly would be convened to frame a new constitution. (Members of this assembly would be partly elected by the provincial assemblies and partly nominated by the princes).

  3. If any province or princely state is unwilling to join the Indian Union were allowed to remain separate and to form their own separate constitution. British Government ensured to invite them to join the commonwealth.

  4. Defense of India would remain in hands of British and the governor general{sin-quite}s powers would remain intact.

Ø  Departures from the past and Implications

The proposals differed from those offered in the past in many respects:

  §  The making of the constitution was to be solely in Indian hands now.

  §  A concrete plan was provided for the constituent assembly.

  §  option was available to any province to have a separate constitution - a blueprint for India{sin-quite}s partition.

  §  Free India could withdraw from commonwealth.

  §  Indians were allowed a large share in the administration in the Interim period.

Ø  INC{sin-quite}s Response to the Cripps Mission

§  congress, was not happy with the proposals of Cripps Mission. Congress rejected it for following reasons: -

   a.      It was proposing Dominion status, which was not acceptable to congress. In 1929 Lahore session of congress, congress had changed its goal from Dominion status to complete independence.

   b.     Representation of the princely states by nominees and not by elected representatives like provincial assemblies. Congress wanted them to get elected the same way just like members from provincial assembly are elected.

   c.      Right to provinces to secede went against the principle of national unity.

   d.     Every proposal in Cripps mission was supposed to be addressed and implemented after world war II ends, (there was no any plan for immediate transfer of powers) .

§  Maulana Azad and Nehru were for official negotiators for the congress.

§  Gandhiji called Cripps mission "A post dated cheque ". 

Ø  Muslim League Response to the Cripps Mission

Muslim League was also not happy with the proposals of Cripps mission because of following reasons: -

   a.      They criticized the idea of a single Indian union.

   b.     They did not like the machinery for the creation of a constituent assembly and the procedure to decide on the accession of provinces to the union.

   c.      They thought that the problems denied the Muslims the sight to self- determination and the creation of Pakistan.

 Cripps Mission Failed as Muslim League and INC both had rejected its proposals.

To Download the PDF of complete article CLICK HERE