From such a criminal mental confusion and irrelevant loyalties, confusion in practice was a foregone conclusion. When, at last, at the instance of Gandhiji, the Congress leaders met at Allahabad on April 27 to discuss the action contemplated by him, the first point of the draft resolution was “A demand to the British Government to clear out.” The whole discussion had an utter unreality about it, which is characteristic of the Congress leadership. As they discussed and made this demand on paper, they assumed that their demand was also conceded. Their whole discussion is a testimony of this fact. They were not at all thinking about how best to make this demand effective in the event of its not being accepted (which was clear to any thinker); they were only thinking about its unreasonableness, and harmfulness, when the demand had been conceded (which was equally clear to a wishful thinker). Jawaharlal, the worst bungler of our politics, said, “This approach is contrary to the Congress policy for the last two years and a half. The Allied countries will have a feeling that we are their enemies.” Again, “The approach is a variation from the attitude we have taken up about the Allies. At least I have committed myself to that sympathy 100%. It would be dishonourable for me to resign from that position.”
The gallant logician was thinking of the consistency of the proposition, and, perhaps, through the exercise of his self-same capacities of logic, after coming to the conclusion that the British could not “reasonably do it (quit India) even if they recognised Independence,” he was beset with terror that would attend such a possibility. He said, “Withdrawal of troops and the whole apparatus of civil administration will create a vacuum which cannot be filled up immediately.”
Maulana Azad perceived the ‘difficulty’ not less visibly. He not only saw the harm of such a step (of Britain quitting India) clearly, he saw the benefit of taking an opposite one (inviting Britain to stay) still more clearly. He said, “What is our position? Shall he tell the British Government to go and allow the Japanese and Germans to come or do we want the British Government to stay and stem the new aggression?”
Two points clearly emerge from this discussion.
The leaders were not worrying about the national urgency and validity of the demand; they were worrying about its consistency, its ethicality and what the ‘allies would feel.’
They did not consider how best to execute this demand, to effect it and make it good; on the other hand, they assumed that this demand had been conceded, and were terror-stricken at such a possibility. They did not think this demand would have to be fought for by them, they thought it had to be conceded by the British. This facile attitude explains why they were afraid of the ‘vacuum,’ which the withdrawal of troops would create. This was a false fear. There was going to be no ‘vacuum’; for the British were not going to withdraw, unless they were made to. We should have to create an alternate power before we would be able to create a British Vacuum in India.
The real reason why they were so ignominiously stampeding at the prospect of such a ‘frightful’ possibility as a British withdrawal from India, did not lie in any real terrors of such a situation, but lay in the fact that the leadership had no tradition of responsibility. They were afraid of snatching it, because they were afraid of exercising it. They were only talkative, not knowing. They were merely good at essay-writing in the form of pious resolutions, and quite incapable of any organised, sustained and purposive action.
What wonder, that with such political alignment, and ‘international loyalties’ (fifth columnist loyalties) as their’s, they should resolve, in the famous August Resolution, “to check the growing ill-will against Britain,” and to enable India to play a more effective part in the war, “to bring all subject and oppressed humanity to the side of the United Nations, thus giving them moral and spiritual leadership of the world.”
This is what the leaders were fighting for, or, more correctly, invited the Indian People to fight for.