In 1942, a mission headed by Strafford Cripps was sent to India with constitutional proposals to seek Indian support for the war. It offered to create an All India Union with dominion status, with a right to withdraw from Commonwealth. After the war, a constituent assembly elected by provincial assemblies will frame the constitution and any province not willing to join the Union could have a separate constitution and form a separate union. It was rejected by both Congress and the Muslim league.
Departures from the Past & Implications
Cripps’s proposals differed from those offered in past:
- The making of the constitution was to be solely in Indian hands now (and not ‘mainly’ in Indian hands — as contained in August Offer). Consisting of members from British India and Native States.
- A concrete plan was provided for Constituent Assembly which was formed after cessation of hostilities.
- Option was available to any province to have a separate constitution—a blueprint for India’s partition.
- Dominion status to be granted to India immediately after the War with the right to secede from the Commonwealth.
- Indians were allowed a large share in the administration in the interim period.
- Actual control of defence and military operations would be retained by the British Government.
Response to Cripps Mission
- Cripps proposals were rejected by all almost all Indians.
- Congress did not want to rely on future promises. It wanted a responsible Government with full powers and also a control over the defences. Gandhi termed the proposal ‘as a post-dated cheque on a crashing bank’.
- Muslim League demanded a definite declaration in favour of creation of a separate state for the Muslims and also seat for Muslim League on a 50:50 basis with the Congress in the Interim Government.
- Depressed Classes, Sikhs, Indian Christians and Anglo-Indians demanded more safeguards for their communities.
- Thus, Cripps Mission failed to pacify Indians. British had merely taken this to demonstrate to the world that they cared about Indian sentiments, rather than to actually do something concrete.