The Policies of the Indian National Congress between 1937 to 1947 were Such as to make the Partition of India Inevitable”. Discuss.

The Policies of the Indian National Congress between 1937 to 1947 were Such as to make the Partition of India Inevitable”. Discuss.

PMS 2019 Solved Pakistan Affairs Past Papers | The Policies of the Indian National Congress between 1937 to 1947 were Such as to make the Partition of India Inevitable”. Discuss.

The following question of PMS Pakistan Affairs 2019 is solved by Sumiya Amjad under the supervision of Miss Nirmal Hasni on the guided pattern of Sir Syed Kazim Ali, which he taught to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

Question Breakdown

In this question, the examiner asked you to throw some light on the policies of Congress between 1937 and 1947, which made the partition of India inevitable. So, first, you need to precisely discuss the political situation prevalent in the Subcontinent during the 1930s that set the background for the entente between the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress. Second, generally describe the policies of Congress which led to the partition of India into two states, Pakistan and India. Start with describing the approach and reaction and how it affected the League’s stance and mentality. Remember, writing too much will never reward you with the highest marks; what awards you maximum marks is to address what is being asked. After this, end the answer with a critical analysis and conclusion.


1- Introduction

2- Overview of the political situation of the Subcontinent during the 1930s

3- Policies of the Indian National Congress which made partition of India inevitable:

  • ✓Role of Congress Ministries 1937- 1939
  • ✓Reaction of Congress against Lahore Resolution
  • ✓Quit India Movement by Congress to gain ‘Hindu-raj’
  • ✓The stubbornness of Gandhi during the Jinnah-Gandhi talks
  • ✓Congress’s reaction towards Wavell’s plan
  • ✓General Elections and the Strategy of Congress
  • ✓Cabinet Mission Plan and statements of Congress leaders

4- Critical Analysis

5- Conclusion

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Answer to the Question


Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. The long-awaited freedom for the Muslims of the Subcontinent was a far-off dream; however, the stubbornness of the Indian National Congress and the harsh policies it adopted made the Muslims realize the worth of independence and a separate nation. Nevertheless, the struggle for freedom in the Indian Subcontinent cannot be confined to a specific era, a single personality, or a particular organization, yet it was the amalgamation of multiple factors. Still, some years proved to be more influential than the other ones. In fact, the decade of 1937 to 1947 was very significant among different stages of the freedom movement of the Muslims of India, where multiple actions and strategies adopted by the Indian National Congress made Muslims realize the worth of living independently of Hindu domination. For instance, the role of Congress ministries after winning the 1937 elections, their sarcastic reaction to the Lahore Resolution 1940, and the stubbornness of their leaders towards the policies and objectives of All India Muslim League made partition of India inevitable As Lyman Beecher said,” No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy.’’

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Overview of the political situation of the Subcontinent during the 1930s and 1940s

The 1930s were a crucial period in the political history of the Indian Subcontinent, marked by significant developments in the struggle for independence from British colonial rule. Starting with the Civil Disobedience Movement under the leadership of Gandhi, including the famous Salt March, it showed the impatience of Indians towards British rule. Similarly, the British called the representatives of the main political parties of India to the Round Table Conferences to discuss constitutional reforms. Moreover, the outbreak of World War II in 1939 had a significant impact on the political situation in India. The British decision to involve India in the war without consulting Indian leaders led to widespread chaos in the Congress ministries. Overall, the situation was confusing, where the Muslim League and Indian National Congress were adopting policies opposite to each other. On the one hand, the Muslim League adopted a resolution demanding an independent country, whereas, on the other hand, Congress was adamant in its demand for self-rule without dividing the country into two.

Policies of the Indian National Congress which made partition of India inevitable:

Various policies of Congress paved the way for the parting of ways with the Muslim League, eventually leading to the creation of two independent states in 1947.

1- Role of Congress Ministries (July 1937-Nov. 1939)

After winning the elections of 1937, the first priority of the All-Indian National Congress was to exclude the Muslim League and other Muslim organizations from the government-making process in all provinces. Congress introduced stiff conditions for allowing the League members into the Cabinet in the United Provinces, like that of Bombay and Bihar. As a matter of fact, Congress wanted to have a one-party Cabinet in the provinces. For that purpose, as a precondition to being part of the coalition, the Muslim League was asked to get absorbed into Congress. Of course, the self-liquidation was not acceptable to the League at any cost. According to Jaswant Singh:

 ‘All such attitudinizing on the part of the Congress gave the Muslim League a new lease of life and set in motion a process that culminated in the partition of India.’

Furthermore, the “Muslim Mass Contact” movement was started in order to defame the Muslim League through policies promoting Hindu culture and symbols. For instance, various educational and cultural policies were introduced, such as the singing of Band-e-Mataram from Annandmath in different institutions and offices, promoting the Hindu language over Urdu, and introducing of the Wardha educational scheme, among other actions.

According to the Pirpur Report 1938, with the acceptance of office by Congress, Muslims were being discriminated against and encouraged to believe that the Government was not theirs. The report accused Congress governments of deliberately engaging in actions that offended the religious sentiments of Muslims. Similarly, the Fazl-ul-Haq Report responded to the indictments by to the Congress on the Muslims. Thus, it was made clear that under the Hindu Raj, Muslims would remain a weak, powerless, and oppressed community.

  • Actions by the Muslim League:

The Muslim League, as a reaction to congress ministries’ injustices, began its journey to become a mass party by taking the following actions:

  1. Provincial and district branches were reshaped;
  2. the membership fee was reduced to two annas;
  3. Jinnah adopted a strategy of keeping anti-Congress feelings high and called to observe December 22 1939, as the Day of Deliverance, marking relief that the Congress governments had, at last, ceased to function.
2- Reaction of Congress against Lahore Resolution 1940

On March 23 1940, the Muslim League adopted a famous resolution, “Pakistan Resolution”, arguing for the partition of India into two parts, one for the Hindus and the other for the Muslims.

‘Islam and Hinduism are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders. It is a dream that the Hindus and the Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality…’

Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Gandhi was baffled and bewildered at the two-nation theory and demand for Pakistan, he said

“The two-nation theory is an untruth. The vast majority of Muslims in India are converts to Islam or descendants of converts. They did not become a separate nation as soon as they became converts. A Bengali Muslim speaks the same tongue as a Bengali Hindu does, eats the same food, and has the same amusements as his Hindu neighbour. They dress alike.”

Similarly, Nehru called it a ‘mad scheme’.

The whole problem has taken a new complexion, and there is no question of settlement or negotiation now. The knot that is before us is incapable of being united by settlement; it needs to be cut open. I want to say that we will have nothing to do with this mad scheme.

Such statements made by congress leaders showed the stiff stance of the Congress party, unwilling to cooperate and collaborate with the Muslims, paving the way for partition.

3- Quit India Movement

 In 1942, the Quit India Movement was started by Gandhi at the Bombay session of the All India Congress Committee, demanding an end to British rule in India. Muslim League passed a resolution, describing the movement as an attempt by Congress to pressure the British Government to hand over power to Hindu oligarchs, ignoring the interests of Muslims in India.

The Working Committee are fully convinced that Pakistan is the only solution to India’s constitutional problem and is in complete consonance with justice and fair play to the two great nations – Muslims and Hindus – inhabiting this vast Subcontinent, whereas if the Congress demand is accepted, it will bring the 100 millions of Muslims under the yoke of the Hindu Raj…In these circumstances, the Working Committee of the All-India Muslim League called upon the Muslims to abstain from any participation in the movement initiated by Congress and to continue to pursue their normal, peaceful life.

Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

The Quit India movement, as understood by Jinnah, would have given the ultimate power to Congress, again repeating the episode of 1937 to 1939 Congress rule, but with more coercion and bad tidings for the Muslims. Muslims were advised to stay away from the movement, helping them to avoid jail sentences, as faced by hundreds of congressmen. Hence, the Muslim League gained and maintained its numerical strength. Moreover, the British Government also considered the movement as a strategy to sabotage their war efforts against the Axis powers. Consequently, they did everything possible to help and strengthen the Muslim League and offset the Congress.

4- Stubbornness of Gandhi during Jinnah-Gandhi talks

Even after the demand for a separate nation in the Lahore Resolution by the Muslim League, Congress still tried every possible step to refrain the British Government and the Muslim League from the idea of partition. Its goal of Swaraj or Hindu Raj was at its peak, with all the powers resting in the hands of Congress and Hindus. However, as for the Muslim League, the partition of India was the only solution, so there was a political impasse between the two political parties. In 1944, Jinnah-Gandhi talks were held to discuss and debate their respective stances. However, there was a failure to reach an agreement. Gandhi refused to accept the Lahore resolution and the Two Nation Theory. He wanted to have a League-Congress agreement but was not ready to accept the representative character of the Muslim League. His goal was to oust the British from India first and then sort out the issue of partition. However, Jinnah didn’t trust his words as Congress, which was divided among itself, and its members would never agree to divide the powers with Muslims, as proved by earlier experiences. Hence, the stubbornness of Gandhi and the demotivating actions of Congress made the Muslim League continue on its separate road, leading toward the partition of India.

“In one breath, Gandhi agrees to the principle of division, and in the next, he makes proposals which go to destroy the very foundation on which the division is claimed by Muslim India.”

Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
5- Reaction towards Wavell’s plan

Lord Wavell, in 1945, announced a plan to create an Executive council where all the members would be Indians, with the exception of the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief. It provided equal representation to caste Hindus and Muslims and asked for the list of nominees by the Indian political parties. Congress wanted to nominate all the members, including Muslims and caste Hindus, to maintain its status as a national party. However, according to Jinnah, the Muslim League should select the Muslim nominees for the Executive Council.

Muslims would always be a minority in the new Council because the other communities, e.g. the Sikhs and the Scheduled Castes, would always vote with the Hindus, and the Viceroy would be most reluctant to exercise his veto.

Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

The stance of Congress to choose all the nominees made the Muslim League realize the authority Congress wanted to exert on the whole of India and to solidify its future position for the future Council.

6- General Elections and the Strategy of Congress

Congress was not generally happy with the announcement of the elections, with its leaders making angry speeches in its Bombay session. Congress leaders like Maulana Azaad and Sardar Patel made a strategy to gather the members of all political parties who were opposed to the Muslim League. The parties included Jamiatul Ulama-i-Hind, All-India Muslim Majlis, Khudai-Khidmatgars (NWFP), and Anjuman-i-Watan (Balochistan), among others. There was an anti-Muslim League campaign, but Jinnah remained steadfast and motivated non-league members to join. The efforts of Jinnah bore fruit with many Congressite and non-Congressite Muslims signing up for the League’s pledge, including but not limited to Abdul Qayyum Khan, Mian Iftikharuddin, and Malik Sir Feroze Khan Noon. Thus, such congress tactics made the partition of India inevitable.

7- Cabinet Mission Plan

The Cabinet Mission Plan proposed to keep British India united. It advocated for a federal system of Government while maintaining a balance of demands of all the parties. It also called for the three provincial groups within the Union to have the power to make their own constitutions. Members of the Muslim League, especially Jinnah, favoured the plan, as it seemed to be a step towards an independent state. Whatever cooperation the League extended was attributed to “the hope that it would ultimately result in the establishment of a completely sovereign Pakistan.” Congress accepted the plan with its own interpretation, saying that grouping was not necessary.

Congress leader Gandhi rejected the plan by arguing that the grouping was worse than a sovereign in Pakistan. Jawaharlal Nehru declared that they did not accept the grouping. The London Statement of December 6 contraindicated with Congress’s interpretation and said that the grouping was the key point of the plan. Abdul Kalam Azad of Congress believed that the plan would have solved the communal problem, but Mr Nehru destroyed all the hopes.

In June 1946, Viceroy Lord Wavell invited the All India National Congress to form an interim Government without reference to the Muslim League. That invitation was a betrayal of the Muslim League. Jinnah said:

“I feel we have exhausted all reason. It is no use looking to any other source for help or assistance. There is no tribunal to which we can go. The only tribunal is the Muslim nation.”

Direct Action Day was called by Jinnah on August 16 1946, where processions were taken out, and public meetings were held. Eventually, the criticism of the British Government led to the invitation to the Muslim League to be part of the interim Government. Thus, the policies of Congress and the British, in particular, made the demand for partition stronger, leading to the formation of a separate state.

Critical Analysis

The events of the decade from 1937 to 1947 bear testimony to the fact that it was a very decisive time period. Both elections (1937 and 1946) were held during that time. The capacity of Indians to be part of Government through executive councils and other institutions was enhanced, and ill-will between Hindu and Muslim Communities increased to unavoidable heights. The Muslim League strengthened its stance and had an unprecedented comeback; the party, which could hardly bag one-fifth of the Muslim seats in 1937, recorded a landslide victory in 1946. The policies of Congress, which curtailed the Muslim League’s representation and objectives, made the division of India inevitable.


In a nutshell, the policies of the Indian National Congress between 1937 and 1947 had a profound impact on the events that led to the partition of India. While economic planning and state control over resources were pursued with the intention of fostering development and equitable distribution, they inadvertently exacerbated communal tensions. The neglect of Muslim concerns, the influence of the Hindu bhadralok, and the inability to forge a united vision for the nation further contributed to the widening divide between religious communities.

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