ICSE Class 10 Notes : The Forward Bloc, the INA, Independence and Partition of India

All India Forward Bloc was a left wing nationalist political party in India. It emerged as a faction within the Indian National Congress in 1939, led by Subhash Chandra Bose. The first INA collapsed in December before it was revived under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose in 1943 and proclaimed the army of Bose’s Argi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind.

Subhash Chandra Bose

  • Subhash Chandra Bose was one of the greatest freedom fighters of India. He was born on 23rd January, 1897 at Cuttack in Orissa. Having been completed his studies in India, he went to England and passed the Indian Civil Services Examination.
  • The Non-Cooperation Movement of Mahatma Gandhi attracted Subhash Chandra Bose and he became an active member of the Freedom Movement.
  • He was unanimously elected as the President of the Congress at the Haripura (Gujarat) Session in 1938. Subhash Chandra Bose inaugurated the Indian National Planning Committee in December, 1938.

The Rift with Gandhiji

The policy of large-scale industrialization was favoured by Subahsh Chandra Bose. On the other hand, Gandhiji favoured the idea of small-scale industries to make the villages self-sufficient.

Rift in the Congress

  • The Congress Session in 1939 was held at the Tripuri (Madhya Pradesh). Subhash Chandra Bose was dissuaded by Gandhiji for standing for re-election as President of the Congress for a IInd term.
  • Bose, however, decided to contest and Gandhiji’s choice fell upon pattabhi Sitaramayya for the presidential candidate. Subhash Chandra Bose won by a majority of votes. Bose resigned from the Presidentship of the Congress on 29th April, 1939.

The Formation of Forward Bloc

On account of his difference with Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Working Committee, Subhash Chandra Bose founded the Forward Bloc.

The main objective of the Forward Bloc was liberation of India with the support of workers, peasants, youth and other organisations.

Indian National Army (INA)

  • The outbreak of the war in South-East Asia in 1941 caused a great stir among the Indians in those regions. Indians, living in the territories captured by Japan, organized themselves into associations, with the objective of contributing to the Liberation of India and serving the interest of the overseas Indians during critical period.
  • The Japanese, after defeating the British in South-East Asia, took  a number of Indian soldiers as Prisoners of War. In March 1942, a conference of Indians was held in Tokyo and they formed the Indian Independence League.
  • At the Bangkok Conference (June, 1942), Rashbihari Bose was elected the President of the League. INA was formed by Mohan Singh. Subhash Chandra Bose had escaped to Berlin in 1941 and set-up an Indian League there.
  • In July, 1943, he joined the INA at Singapore. There Rashbihari Bose handed over the leadership to him. Provisional Government of Free India and the INA were formed by Subhash Chandra Bose in Singapore in 21st October, 1943. Subhash Chandra Bose gave the call to his soldiers. ‘Give me blood and I shall get you freedom.’ He gave the slogans ‘Delhi Chalo’ and ‘Jai Hind’.
  • The INA gave a tough fight to the British forces in the Assam hills and succeeded in capturing Ukhral and Kohima. However, the surrender of Japan in the World War II sealed the fate of the INA. The INA failed in its political mission, but it set an inspiring example of patriotism.

The main objectives of the Indian National Army are as follows:

  1. To organise an armed revolution and to fight the British army of occupation with modern arms.
  2. To organise a provisional government of free India in order to mobilise all forces effectively.
  3. Total mobilisation of India’s manpower and money for a total war was one of the main objectives of INA.
  4. The motto of the INA was Unity, Faith, and Sacrifice.

Independence and Partition of India

In the Lahore Session of the Muslim League in 1940, the demand for Pakistan came up. The name of Pakistan came from beginning letters of Punjab, the Afghan Province, Kashmir and Sindh and from Baluchistan was taken the last syllable.

Wavell Plan and Shimla Conference (4th June-14th July, 1945)

  • The war situation in Europe improved in the beginning of the year 1945. India’s goodwill was however, needed as the war against Japan was expected to last for about 2 years.
  • The British Government was compelled to come forward with some sort of plan to satisfy the Indians. After consulting the British Government on the Indian problem, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, issued a statement known as Wavell Plan.

Proposal of the Plan

Viceroy’s Executive Council would consist of an equal number of Hindus and Muslims. Only the Commander in Chief and the Viceroy would be British. Once the important political parties agree to the basics, a new Constitution would be framed by the Indians themselves. And India like other dominions would have a British High Commissioner.

Cabinet Mission Plan (1946)

  • The British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee made a declaration on 15th March, 1946 that the British Cabinet Mission would visit India to make recommendations regarding constitutional reforms to be introduced in India.
  • The Cabinet Mission which included Lord Patrick Lawrence, Stafford Cripps and AV Alexander, visited India and met the representatives of the different political parties but, satisfactory solution to the constitutional difficulties could not be found.
  • The mission envisaged the establishment of a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution as well as an Interim Government. The Muslim League accepted the plan on 6th June, 1946, while maintaining its rights of striving for a separate Muslim state. The Congress also partially accepted the plan.

Clauses of the Cabinet Mission Plan

  • The main clauses of the Cabinet Mission Plan were:
  • There will be a Federal Union of the British provinces and of the Princely States.
  • The Union Government would control Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications.
  • The provinces would enjoy full autonomy for all subjects other than the union subjects.
  • The British provinces would be divided into three groups Group A, Group B, and Group C on the basis of religion.
  • The province would be free to form groups with their own Executive and Legislature. A Constituent Assembly would draw up the future Constitution of India.
  • Separate representation was to be given to Muslims and Sikhs.
  • India would be free to remain within the British commonwealth or secede from it.

Rejection of the Demand for Pakistan

The demand for Pakistan was rejected by the Cabinet Mission for the following reasons:

  • The establishment of Pakistan would not solve the problem of Communal Minorities because the percentage of non-Muslims living in the North-West Zone of Pakistan would be 37.93% and those living in the North-Eastern Zone of 48.31% of the total population.
  • There was no justification for including within Pakistan, the non-Muslim districts of Bengal, Assam and the Punjab.
  • The armed forces, transportation, as well as the Postal and Telegraph System had been built for India as a whole and the partition would create many problems.
  • The Princely States would find it difficult to decide whether to join Indian or Pakistan.

Reaction of the Congress League

The Congress accepted the proposals with reservations. It accepted only that part of the scheme which dealt with Constitution making. It considered the Constituent Assembly as a sovereign body for drafting the Constitution. The Cabinet Mission accepted the complete freedom of the Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution, but insisted on the compulsory grouping of the provinces.

The Congress however, rejected the Viceroy’s offer to form an Interim Government because of its limited status and powers and also because the principal of parity with Muslim League was not acceptable to it. It was also opposed to the League’s claim that alone had the right to nominate all the Muslim members to the Executive Council.

Reaction of the Muslim League

The League accepted it in its entirety on 6th June, 1946 because it felt that, the grouping of Muslim majority provinces in way meant the formation of Pakistan. The League asked Wavell, the Viceroy, to constitute on Interim Government. Elections to the Constituent Assembly were held in July, 1946, in which the Congress obtained 2/3 rd majority. Out of 292 seats, Congress won 201 seats and the Muslim League won 73 out of 78 Muslim seats. The rest went to other parties. The Congress had an overwhelming majority in the Constituent Assembly.

The League feared that it would be out voted in the assembly. It also felt that the British withdrawal from India would mean transfer of power to the Hindus, who were in majority in India. The League passed a resolution on 29th July, 1946 withdrawing it acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Direct Action Day Campaign (16th August, 1946)

Provoked by the success of the Congress (in the voting for Constituent Assembly), the Muslim League launched a Direct Action campaign on 16th August, which resulted in widespread communal riots in the country.

Attlee’s Announcement (20th February, 1947)

On 20th February, 1947, British Prime Minister Attlee announced that the British would withdraw from India by 30th June, 1948 and that Lord Mountbatten would replace Wavell.

Mountbatten Plan (3rd June, 1947)

  • In March 1947, Lord Mountbatten replaced Lord Wavell. He announced his plan on 3rd June, 1947. His earlier plan regarding Balkanisation of the country was abandoned for this 3rd June Plan. It offered a key to the political and constitutional deadlock created by the refusal of Muslim League to join the Constituent Assembly formed to frame the Constitution of India.
  • The Plan provided for the creation of a Boundary Commission to settle the boundaries of the two dominions in case partition was decided upon.
  • Mountbatten’s formula was to divide India, but to retain maximum unity. The country would be partitioned, but so would be Punjab and Bengal, so that the limited Pakistan that emerged, would meet both the Congress and the League position to some extent. Its acceptance by the Congress and the Muslim League resulted in the birth of the Pakistan.

Clause of the Mountbatten Plan

India was to be partitioned into two independent and sovereign states namely India and Pakistan. The plan provided for the Partition of Punjab and Bengal. The Princely States were given the choice of joining either of the two new States – India or Pakistan.

Acceptance of Mountbatten Plan by the Congress

The Mountbatten Plan was accepted by the Congress because of the following reasons:

  • The large-scale of communal riots ‘that engulfed the whole country convinced all that the only solution to communal problem in the partition of India.
  • The League had joined the Interim Government to obstruct and not to cooperate. Experience of working with the League had convinced the Congress that it could not have a joint administration with the League.
  • The Leaders felt that partition would rid the Constitution of separate electorates and other undemocratic procedures. India could evolve a truly secular and democratic party.
  • The only alternative to partition was a federation with a weak centre. A smaller India with a strong central authority was better than a bigger state with a weak centre.

India Independence Act (1947)

The Bill containing the provisions of the Mountbatten Plan of 3rd June, 1947 was introduced in the British Parliament and was passed as the Indian Independence Act, 1947. The Act laid down detailed measures for the Partition of India and the speedy transfer of political powers to the new government of Indian and Pakistan.

This act marked the end of the British rule in India and the Dominions of India and Pakistan came into existence on 15th August, 1947.

Main Provisions of the Indian Independence Act

The main provisions of the act were as follows:

Two New Dominions

India would be partitioned and two independent Dominions India and Pakistan would be created from 15th August, 1947. The act provided legislative supremacy of both the dominions. The territories of the two dominions were divided in such terms that Pakistan would comprise Sindh, British Baluchistan, North-West Frontier Province, the West Punjab and East Bengal. India was to comprise all the remaining territories included in the British India. The exact boundaries of the dominions would be determined by a Boundary Commission.

Provisions of Partitions

Both Bengal and Punjab would be divided, if so desired by the people. The Provincial Assemblies of the two parts would meet separately representing Hindu majority districts and Muslim majority districts would decide through a majority vote whether they wanted the division of province or not.

A plebiscite would be held in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) as well as in Sylhet district (Muslim majority area) in East Bengal to determine whether they would like to join Pakistan or India. (Both these provinces joined West and East Pakistan respectively).

Governor-General for Each Dominion

There would be a Governor-General, who would be appointed by the British king on the advice of the Cabinet of the concerned dominion.

Constituent Assemblies to Serve as Central Legislatures

The Constituent Assemblies of both the dominions were to act as the Central Legislatures and would have full power to make laws for their respective dominion. They would act as sovereign bodies for legislative purposes.