consultations with several political leaders, issued a statement from Simla on
8 August. It promised: (i) an immediate expansion of the Viceroy’s Executive
Council by inducting a number of Indians; (ii) the establishment of a War
Advisory Council comprising representatives of British India and the Indian
States; (iii) the promotion of steps to arrive at an agreement among Indians
on the form which the postwar representative body would take.
Not surprisingly, nationalist reaction to the socalled ‘August Offer’ was
hostile. For it effectively meant more than the addition of a few more Indians
to the Governor-General’s Executive Council without transferring
responsibility from the British Parliament to the Indian legislature. The
British, however, went ahead with its implementation. Accordingly, in July
1941 the Viceroy’s Executive Council was enlarged from 7 to 12 members,
of whom four were British and eight Indians as against three (Indians) earlier.
But no member of the Congress or the League joined the new council.
Cripps Mission (1942)
Through the mission of Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the British War
Cabinet, England made a serious attempt to break the political impasse in
India. The Cripps scheme was in two parts. The first part laid down the
procedure for framing the Dominion Status constitution. The initial step in
this direction was the holding of fresh elections to all the provincial
legislatures. Along with the representatives of the Indian States they were to
constitute an electoral college which would, in turn, elect the constitution-
making body. It also prescribed that if a province expressed its unwillingness
to accept the constitution, it could refuse accession to the Indian Union and
instead formulate its own constitution. The second part of the scheme related
to immediate and interim arrangements during the war, which however did
not propose any major change either in the Government of India Act of 1935
or in the British government’s control over the defence of the country.
With regard to the first part, the Congress took exception to the provision
for the provincial option, which, it argued, implied acceptance of the
principle of Pakistan. It was also unhappy with the mude of selection of
representatives of the princely states by their rulers. In the second part,
controversy arose over the question of the status of the Executive Council