Table of contents
The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi, at Eleven of the Clock, Mr. Chairman (The Hon’ble Dr. Rajendra Prasad) in the Chair.
The following Member presented Her credential and signed the Register: The Hon’ble Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit.
I am happy to welcome Srimathi Vijayalakshmi Pandit after the great work she have been able to achieve in the International Conference in America. (Cheers). I am sure the whole House will join me in that welcome as is apparent from the cheering. (Applause).
Is there any other member who wishes to sign the Roll?
RESOLUTION RE: AIMS AND OBJECTS-contd.
We shall proceed to the discussion of the Resolution and the amendments. I have got a long list of members who wish to speak. The list covers more than 50 names. I do not know how I can accommodate all the 50 speakers who have sent in their names. There may also be some others who wish to speak. I would therefore select according to my own choice. I am not sure that it may not cause complaint in some quarter or other, but I suppose that is the only way. I want to suggest to the speakers to be as brief as they can, because after all we have got to go through this work, finish this Resolution and take up other business. Sitting, as we are doing now for two hours a day, if every speaker takes 15 minutes, that means 6 days and if we sit both in the morning and evening, it means 3 days. I do not think we can afford so much time on this Resolution. I would therefore request the speakers to be as brief as they can without my fixing any time-limit. Ten minutes may be taken as a reasonable limit. I would call upon Mr. Masani.
Mr. Chairman, in rising to speak on this Resolution, I would like to make it clear at the outset that I do so, not as a member of one of the several communities, into which unfortunately, our nation is today divided, but as an Indian first and last. (Hear). I do so even though I owe my origin to the very smallest or tiniest of our national minorities. It was one of those groups of people who received that welcome, that hospitality and that protection to which Babu Purushottamdas Tandon referred in his speech in seconding this Resolution. I hope, Sir, that these minorities which exist in our country, will, along with the majority, continue their progress towards becoming a nation, a process which in this ancient country was happening through the absorption of new groups that came into it through the centuries, but a process which seems to have been retarded through the rigidity of caste and through the exclusiveness of society in the past few centuries. I would only observe at this stage that the conception of a nation does not permit the existence of perpetual or permanent minorities. Either the nation absorbs these minorities or, in course of time, it must break up. Therefore, while welcoming the clause in this Resolution which promises adequate safeguards for the minorities, I would say that it is a good thing that we have these legal and constitutional safeguards, but that ultimately no legal safeguard can protect small minorities from the overwhelming domination of big masses, unless on both sides an effort is made to get closer and become one corporate nation, a homogeneous nation. That process has been shown to us by the United States of America, where peoples of different races have, with one unfortunate exception, been absorbed into one nation.
There must have been indeed very few members of this House who were not deeply moved, and who did not feel elevated, by the noble speech with which the Mover of this Resolution introduced it in this House. He peered into the future and tried to see what shape the destiny of the people of India would take and, in response to the appeal which he made that we should consider this Resolution as something fundamental and avoid legal disputes and quibbling over its terms. I would like, in the very few minutes that, Sir, you have placed at my disposal, to draw the attention of this House to what I might call the social or long-term aspect of this Resolution and to try to understand what kind of society or State, what way of life this Resolution offers to the people of this country. I feel, Sir, that immediate disputes aside, that is the part of the Resolution at which the common people of the country will look with the closest attention.
I approach this part of the Resolution, Sir, as a democratic socialist, a socialist who feels that democracy needs to be extended from the political to the economic and social spheres and that, if socialism does not mean that, then it means nothing at all. I welcome this Resolution in spite of the fact that neither the word ‘democracy’ nor the word ‘socialist’ finds a place in its Preamble. It is perhaps just as well that those words have been avoided because, as one of us here put it in his Presidential Address at the Meerut Congress, terms like socialism or democracy can be made to cover multitude of sins. The fog of words often covers realities. We know the French Revolution was made in the name of fraternity but, towards the end of that Resolution a cynic remarked—
“When I saw what men did in the name of fraternity, I resolved if I had a brother to call him cousin!”
That, I fear, is true of other revolutions as well.
As a socialist, Sir, I welcome this aspect of the Resolution because, as the Mover has rightly pointed out, the content of economic democracy is there although the label is not there. The Resolution, in my view clearly rejects the present social structure; it rejects the social status quo. There can be no other meaning to the words in clause 5 which refer to justice– social, economic and political. I do not think anyone here would argue that the present state of our society is based on justice. I think it has an estimated that today if our national income were to be divided into three equal thirds, 5 out of 100 Indians get one third of our national income, another 33 get the second third and the big mass of 62 get the remaining portion. That surely is not social or economic justice and, therefore, as I understand this Resolution, it would not tolerate the wide and gross inequalities which exist in our country. It would not tolerate the exploitation of a man’s labour by somebody else. It certainly means that everyone who toils for the common good will get his fair share of the fruits of his labour. It also means that the people of this country, so far as any constitution can endow them, will get social security–the right to work or maintenance by the community. The Resolution also provides for equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity, Sir, presupposes equal facilities in education and in the development of the talent that is latent in each one of us. Today, among our masses a fund of latent talent exists which has no chance to come out and contribute to our national good. Equality of opportunity certainly assumes that every child in this country, every boy and girl, will get an equal opportunity to develop those faculties which he or she possesses in order contribute to the common good.
That, Sir, is the socialist aspect of the Resolution. It does not provide for socialism. It would be wrong to provide for such a thing, because this House has no mandate to go in for far-reaching economic changes in the country. Those changes can be brought about by a properly constituted Parliament when it comes into existence with the mandate of the people. All that we can do as an Assembly here is to frame a constitution which will allow those far-reaching changes which are necessary to be made and I submit, Sir, that this Resolution goes as far as it can in satisfying the most ardent socialist amongst us.
As I said, Sir, I approach this as a democratic socialist and if socialism is there, so is democracy or the content of democracy included in the Resolution. I do not think the word ‘Republic’ there is adequate. As Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru himself has stated, it is conceivable that a republic may not be democratic. If we cast our eyes around the globe today, we shall see several instances of this and therefore, apart from saying that we shall be a republic, it is necessary that we should make it clear, as clauses 4 and 5 do, that in our view democracy does not mean a Police State, where the Secret Police can arrest or liquidate people without trial. It does not mean a totalitarian State where one party can seize power and keep opposition parties suppressed and not give them the freedom to function freely and with equal facilities. It cannot mean a society or State where an individual is made a robot or where is reduced to “a small screw in the big machine of State“. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru has pointed out that this Resolution is based on democracy, and that all our past bears witness to the fact that we stand for democracy and for nothing less. But it is not only our past which is a guarantee if our democratic faith. It is also our present.
Our national life has many different trends in it but, almost unanimously, we all stand for the freedom of the individual and for a democratic State. And to show how widely differing schools of thought in our midst can agree with almost one voice on this desire to distribute power to our common people, to distribute political and economic power so widely that no one man or group of people can exploit or dominate the rest, I will cite to you first the testimony of one who is not present amongst us, one who was referred to by the Mover as the Father of our Nation. I refer to Mahatma Gandhi. (Cheers). These are his words as quoted in ‘A Week with Gandhi’ by Louis Fischer:-
“The centre of power now is in New Delhi, or in Calcutta and Bombay, in the big cities. I would have it distributed among the seven hundred thousand villages of India….”
“There will then be voluntary co-operation between these seven hundred thousand units, voluntary co-operation- not co-operation induced by Nazi methods. Voluntary co-operation will produce real freedom and a new order vastly superior to the new order in Soviet Russia……”
“Some say there is ruthlessness in Russia, but that it is exercised for the lowest and the poorest and is good for that reason. For me, it has very little good in it.”
And as if to find an echo of that in a thinker of a very different school, I shall now cite a sentence or two from a recent Picture of Socialism drawn by the leader of the Indian Socialist Party, Jai Prakash Narain. I regret, Sir that he has not joined us in our labour here, but this is what he says and it sounds almost like an echo of Gandhiji’s thought:
“The State under socialism threatens, as in Russia, far from withering away, to become an all-powerful tyrant maintaining a strangle-hold over the entire life of the citizen. This leads to totalitarianism of the type we witness in Russia today. By dispersing the ownership and management of industry and by developing the village into a democratic village republic, we break this strangle-hold to a very large extent and attenuate the danger of totalitarianism….
Thus, my picture of a socialist India is the picture of an economic and political democracy. In this democracy, men will neither be slaves to capitalism nor to a party or the State. Man will be free.”
Sir, it is a fashion of our day to argue that the social and economic changes that are at present required cannot be made unless individual liberty and democracy are first destroyed and an all-powerful State can push its programmes through. This Resolution, if I read it right, is a refutation of that thesis. It envisages far-reaching social changes- social justice in the fullest sense of the term but it works for those social changes through the mechanism of political democracy and individual liberty. To those defeatists who say that this cannot be done, this Resolution says it can be done, and we have the intention and the determination to do it. The central problem of our times is whether the State is to own the people or the people are to own the State. Where the State belongs to the people, the State is a mere instrument subordinate to the people and it serves the people. It only takes away the liberty of the individual to the extent that the people really desire it. Where the State owns the people, the people are mere robots in a big machine- pushed about here and there by the whims of an all-powerful dictator or an all-powerful party. It is because I believe, Sir, that this Resolution points the direction to a constitution where the people will be in power, where the individual will occupy the centre of the stage and the development of the individual personality will be the main aim of our social good, that I support this part of the Resolution, this aspect of it, for I believe that, as the fathers of the United States Constitution put it, every individual Indian has an “inalienable right to Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness“. (Cheers.)
Mr. President, Sir, I have risen to support the amendment moved by Dr. Jayakar. I have given the most earnest consideration to the Resolution involved by Pandit Nehru and to the amendment as it has been moved by Dr. Jayakar. I appreciate the solemn character of the main Resolution, and I am not going to support the amendment purely by arguing technical or legal reasons in support of it. I appreciate the fact that the first part of that main Resolution affirms our solemn resolve to proclaim India as an independent Sovereign Republic. That, I realise, is an article of faith with the Congress Party. It represents the supreme objective for which they have fought so long and so arduously. No one could, should, more than that would dare ask them not to reiterate that pledge of theirs on this, the first and the most appropriate occasion. Apart from that, I think it is a pledge which is enshrined in the heart of every Indian. I also appreciate the fact that constitutional precedent shows that assemblies such as ours have at the very first opportunity declared their main and fundamental objective. And ours is to proclaim India as a Sovereign Independent Republic. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru has asked us, quite rightly, not to read into this word “Republic” any unnecessary bogeys. It is only meant to indicate a constitution in contradistinction to a monarchical form of government. At the same time, he emphasised that it does not preclude units, autonomous units, from joining this Republic and retain- in to themselves a monarchical form of government. The reason why I have supported Dr. Jayakar’s amendment is that, I believe that it fulfils essentially both these things. The amendment respects the Congress pledge. It affirms our solemn resolve to frame constitution for a free and democratic sovereign State. The words used may not be identical. I would prefer the words to have been adopted from the main Resolution, but I believe that from the constitutional point of view, the connotations of these two phrases are virtually identical. Further, Dr. Jalyakar’s amendment meets the second need, to proclaim at this first stage our fundamental objective of framing a constitution for a free and democratic sovereign State. What I believe Dr. Jayakar’s amendment really seeks to do is to ask us to defer a declaration on the remaining parts of that main Resolution. That is, those parts relating to the Indian States, to the powers and functions of the Provinces and to the powers and functions of the Union. That, I believe is the intention of this amendment-to ask us to defer a declaration, however just it may be a declaration which may expose us to the charge, however baseless, that we are prejudging matters of detail which have to be traversed in this Assembly and on which decisions should be made after they have been fully canvassed and discussed here. That is why, Sir, I feel that Dr. Jayakar’s amendment should be supported. It ought to be adopted because it is dictated, if I may say so, with all humility, by considerations of statesmanship, by the desire of every one of us to see the greatest measure of agreement and goodwill between the two major parties and by the desire of every one of us to see this great country of ours embracing, giving strength to and being given strength by those who make up her children.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, I believe in the course of the chequered history of our country, we have often passed motions and resolutions from different political parties and platforms embodying our demands for an independent sovereign State for our motherland. But so far as today’s Resolution is concerned, it has a deep and special significance. It is for the first time in the history of our country, since we came under British rule, that we have met to frame our own constitution. It is a great responsibility- in fact, as the Hon’ble Mover of the Resolution reminded us, it is a solemn and sacred trust which we Indians have agreed to perform and we propose to do so to the best of our ability. Now, Sir, the amendment which has been moved by Dr. Jayakar raises certain questions of fundamental importance. I am sorry I cannot support the amendment. The effect of the amendment practically is that we cannot pass a resolution of this description at all until the Sections have met and made their recommendations. Dr. Jayakar wants that we should not pass this Resolution until both the Indian States and the Muslim League are enabled to attend the Constituent Assembly. So far as the Indian States are concerned, they cannot come even if they wish to, until the Sections have met and settled the provincial constitutions, which means how many months none can foretell. So far as the Muslim League is concerned, no doubt, every one regrets that the Muslim League has not found it possible to attend the preliminary session of the Constituent Assembly. But what guarantee is there that, if this Resolution is postponed till the 20th January next, as Dr. Jayakar suggests, the Muslim League will come and attend the session?
I feel, Sir, that the question should really be looked at from a different point of view. Does this Resolution raise issues which are in any way inconsistent with the Cabinet Mission’s Scheme of May the 16th? If it does raise issues which are inconsistent with that scheme, then obviously we are prejudging matters, we are raising matters which, it may be said, we have no right to do at this stage. Now, that document to my mind is something like a puzzle picture. You can interpret it in so many ways looking at it from different angles of vision. But looking at the Resolution as it stands, what is the declaration that it is making now? It enumerates certain fundamental things which are within the frame-work of the Scheme itself. I know that if we go into some details, I have to refer to at least one matter on which many of us hold divergent views, namely, the question of residuary powers. But that is a matter which the Cabinet Mission’s Scheme has included within the contemplated framework of the Constitution. That is a matter on which the Indian National Congress has expressed its opinion; that is a matter, I believe, on which the Muslim League also has expressed its opinion. Some of us differ from that standpoint and urge a stronger Centre in India’s paramount interest. We shall do so at an appropriate stage later on. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, as the mover of the Resolution, has also made it clear that we are not now framing a constitution for India; we are only passing a resolution at this stage, at the preliminary stage, outlining generally the shape that the future constitution of India should take. In other words, when the time actually comes for us to frame the Constitution, I believe, Sir, it will be open to anyone to, bring up any matter that he chooses before the House as an amendment to any proposal that may be made and which is bound to be considered on its merits. The passing of this Resolution, I take it, can be no legal bar whatever against any member bringing forward any amendment to the draft Constitution that this Assembly may frame at a later stage. If assurances are forthcoming, on these two issues, namely, that the Resolution as drafted does not go against the main features of the Cabinet Mission’s Scheme, and also that it does not commit the Constituent Assembly in a definite manner with regard to the details of the Constitution that is yet to come. I see no reason why any obstacle should be put forward to passing the Resolution at this stage.
The Resolution has an importance of its own. After all, we are sitting here not in our individual capacity, but we claim to represent the People of this great land. Our sanction is not the British Parliament; our sanction is not the British Government; our sanction is the people of India (cheers). And if that is so, we have to say something, not merely to frame rules and regulations- we have to say something concrete to the people of India as to why we have assembled here on the 9th December 1946. If what Dr. Jayakar says had been the correct position, then this Constituent Assembly should not have been called at all; in fact, Dr. Jayakar need not have attended the meeting. He should have informed the Governor General,–“I regret I cannot accept your invitation because I feel you are doing wrong in calling the Constituent Assembly as the Muslim League and the Indian States are not attending.” But having come here, for us to raise this issue is practically to walk into the trap, of the Muslim League and to strengthen the hands of reactionaries in Great Britain. I know that Dr. Jayakar will be the last man to do such a thing. I admire his courage of conviction; in fact, everyone who feels that a certain thing should be done, must be able to come forward and present his view point. But we may also respectfully point out to Dr. Jayakar the great danger that lies in the innocent looking amendment that he has put forward before the House, and I hope that he will withdraw the amendment in due course when the time comes.
I would like just to say a few words with regard to another aspect of the question. The Resolution is there, but, how are we going to implement it? What are the impediments that we already see before us which may prevent us from carrying this Resolution into effect? Now, one, of course, is the status of the Constituent Assembly in the absence of the Muslim League. Dr. Jayakar yesterday referred to some analogy of a dinner party. He said, “If guests are invited and some guests do not come, then how can you have the dinner party?” But he forgot to say what will be the fate of the guests who have already arrived? If he is going to be the host and invites six guests, suppose five of them come and one is absent, is he then going to starve those five guests of his and turn them out of his house and say, “the sixth has not come and you are not going to get your food?” Obviously not. Here also the hunger for freedom for those who have come has to be satisfied. Mr. Churchill said that the absence of the Muslim League in the Constituent Assembly was something like the absence of the bride in the Church when the marriage was going to take place. I do not know when the Indian States come in and also the Muslim League, how many brides the Constituent Assembly is going to have ultimately. In any case, if that is Mr. Churchill’s point of view, he should not play the role of a seducer. He should have asked Mr. Jinnah to go back to India and join the Constituent Assembly and place his point of view before the people of India. No one has said that the Muslim League should not come. In fact, we want that the Muslim League should come so that we can meet each other face to face. If there are difficulties, if there are differences of opinion, we do not wish that we should carry only by majority votes. That may have to be done as a last resort, but obviously, every attempt must be made, will be made to come to an agreement as regards the future Constitution of India. But why is the Muslim League being prevented from coming? My charge is that the Muslim League is not coming because of the encouragement it receives from British attitude. The Muslim League has been encouraged to feel that if it does not come, it may be able to veto the final decision of the Constituent Assembly. The power of veto in some form or another has again passed into the hands of the Muslim League, and that is the danger that threatens the future activities of this great Assembly. Sir, I am not going to discuss in detail, because this is neither the time nor the occasion when I can discuss, the various provisions of the British statements. But, I would certainly say this: that this Constituent Assembly, although it is a British creation for the time being, once it has come into existence, it has the power, if it has the will, to assert its right and to do what is best and proper for the attainment of India’s freedom, for the good of the people of India irrespective of caste, creed or community. (Hear, hear).
Now, Sir, we have said, at any rate, the Indian National Congress has said-because that was one of the major parties with whom negotiations went on-that they stand by the Cabinet Mission Scheme of May 16. It gladdened my heart yesterday when the Hon’ble Sardar Vallabhai Patel got up, interrupting Dr. Jayakar, and said that the Congress has not accepted anything beyond the Statement of May 16, 1946. (Cheers.) That I consider to be an announcement of fundamental importance. We have got to make it clear as to what we are here for. I say that our attitude should be something like this: We shall give the Cabinet Mission Scheme of May 16, a chance; genuinely, honestly we shall see if we can come to an agreement with the other parties and elements on the basis of the Scheme on May 16, 1946. But subsequent interpretations, if any, we are not going to accept. Or if any party chooses to deviate from the Scheme and break away, we shall proceed and frame the Constitution as we wish.
There has been considerable difference of opinion with regard to one clause of the Statement of May 16, 1946, and that is with regard to the question of grouping. Now, it is for the Congress to decide, as one of the major parties involved, what interpretation it is going to accept ultimately. If the interpretation as given by His Majesty’s Government is not accepted, and if the Congress considers that the interpretation put upon that portion of the Statement by it (the Congress) is correct, then of course a crisis may come. That is a question which has to be decided apart from a discussion on this Resolution. In fact, the greater the delay in making a decision on that question, the greater will be the atmosphere of unreality; so far as the proceedings of this House are concerned. But, after that question is decided, supposing the interpretation put by His Majesty’s Government is accepted, whether by a reference to the Federal Court, or not, I need not go into, then we shall go on. We shall proceed with our work. The Muslim League may come or may not come if it comes, well and good; and even if it does not come, it cannot retard India’s freedom and we must claim to proceed with our business in this Constituent Assembly. I feel, Sir, that if a crisis does come, as I visualise it is likely to come, if our country is to be free, it is not going to be in accordance with constitutional means. In view of the developments that have taken place during the last few days, our task will not be performed so easily. But let me emphasise that whatever has to be done, it has to be done through the agency of this Constituent Assembly and none other. If ultimately we have to function, we shall function on our own responsibility and prepare a constitution which we shall be able to place before the bar of world opinion and satisfy everyone that we have treated the people of India, minorities and all, in a just and equitable manner.
After all, what happened with regard to the South African question? We have today in our- midst, the Hon’ble Mrs. Pandit, who has come back to her motherland after a great victory. But even there she was not supported by our self-constituted trustee- His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain. In fact the vote went against India so far as Great Britain was concerned. But she won. The Indian Delegation won before the bar of world opinion. Similar may be the case with regard to the Constituent Assembly also. If we take courage in both hands and frame a constitution which will be just and equitable to all, then we shall be able, if need be, to declare this Constituent Assembly as the first Parliament of a Free and Sovereign Indian Republic. (Loud cheers.) We then may be able to form our own National Government and enforce our decision on the people of this land. As I said a few minutes ago, our sanction is not the British people or the British Government. Our sanction is the people of India and therefore we have to make the ultimate appeal to the people of our country.
Sir, when we talk about minorities, it is suggested as if the Muslim League represents, the only minority in India. But that is not so. There are other minorities. Coming from Bengal with all her tragic suffering, let me remind the House that Hindus also constitute a minority in at least four Provinces in India and, if minority rights are to be protected, such rights must affect every minority which may vary from Province to Province.
Only last night, Lord Simon made the startling announcement that the Constituent Assembly sitting in Delhi consists of only Caste Hindus. So many false statements have been uttered during the last few days in England that it is difficult to keep count of them all. But who are represented in this House today? There are Hindus; there are some Muslims too. At least there are Muslims from one Muslim province who come as representatives of a Government which is functioning there in spite of the Muslim League. There are the representatives of the Province of Assam which is supposed to be part and parcel of Mr. Jinnah’s Pakistan-to-come. That Province is also officially represented by the majority of the people of that province. You have the Scheduled Castes. All the Scheduled Caste members who have been elected to the Constituent Assembly are here. Even Dr.Ambedkar who may not agree with us in all matters is present here (applause) and I take it it will be possible for us to convert him, or reconvert him and to get him to our side, (renewed applause) when we go to discuss in detail the interests of those whom he represents. There are other Scheduled Caste members also present here. The Sikhs are present here; all of them. The Anglo-Indians are present and so are the Indian Christians. So, how did it lie in the mouth of Lord Simon………… (A Voice: Parsis also are present here.) Yes, last but not least, the Parsees also are present here. So, how did it lie in the mouth of Lord Simon or anybody else… (A Voice: The Tribal representatives are here). Tribal areas and the Adibasis are here represented by my friend Mr. J. Singh. In fact, every element that has been elected to the Indian Constituent Assembly is here barring the Muslim League. The Muslim League represents a section. I take it a large section, may be a very large section of the Muslim community, but it is absolutely false to suggest that this Constituent Assembly consists only of one section of the people, the Caste Hindus, as though Caste Hindus have been born only to oppress the others and to fashion out something which will be disastrous to the interests of India. Now, is it suggested that if one section of the Indian people chooses to be absent from the Constituent Assembly, India should continue to remain a slave country? (A Voice: “No”). That reply has to be given to the people of this country who are absent and also their instigators. I would say, Sir, that we should say to the British people once and for all, “We want to remain friendly with you. You started your career in this country as traders. You came here as supplicants before the Great Mughal. You wanted to exploit the wealth of this country. Luck was in your favour. By forgery, fraud and force, you succeeded in establishing-these are all matters of history-your Government in this country, but not with the willing co-operation of the people of this land. You introduced separate electorates, you introduced religion into Indian politics. That was not done by Indians. You did it, only to perpetuate your rule in this country. You have created vested interests in this country which have become powerful enough now and which cannot be destroyed with their own willing co-operation. In spite of all these, if you really want that you and India should remain as friends in the future, we are prepared to accept your hand of co-operation. But for heaven’s sake, it is not the business of the British Government to interfere so far as the domestic problems of India are concerned. Every country will have its own domestic problems and unfortunately India has her domestic problems too, and those domestic problems must ultimately be settled by the people of this country.” I hope, Sir, as we are not framing a constitution now, as we are only laying down a general outline of the things that we want to do in the future, the House will refuse to listen to narrow technicalities. We shall go ahead with our work in spite of all difficulties and obstacles and help to create that great India, united and strong, which will be the motherland of not this community or that, not this class or that, but of every person, man, woman and child, inhabiting this great land, irrespective of race, caste, creed or community, where everyone will have an equal opportunity, an equal freedom, an equal status so that he or she could develop himself or herself to the best of his or her talents and serve faithfully and fearlessly this beloved common motherland of ours.
Mr. Chairman, I am indeed very graceful to you for having called me to speak on the Resolution. I must however confess that your invitation has come to me as a surprise. I thought that as there were some 20 or 22 people ahead of me, my turn, if it did come at all, would come tomorrow. I would have preferred that as today I have come without any preparation whatsoever. I would have liked to prepare myself as I had intended to make a full statement on an occasion of this sort. Besides you have fixed a time limit of 10 minutes. Placed under these limitations, I don’t know how I could do justice to the Resolution before us. I shall however do my best to condense in as few words as possible what I think about the matter.
Mr. Chairman, the Resolution in the light of the discussion that has gone on since yesterday obviously divides itself into two parts, one part which is controversial and another part which is non-controversial. The part which is non-controversial is the part which comprises paragraphs (5) to (7) of this Resolution. These paragraphs set out the objectives of the future constitution of this country. I must confess that, coming as the Resolution does from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who is reputed to be a socialist, this Resolution, although non-controversial, is to my mind very disappointing. I should have expected him to go much further than he has done in that part of the Resolution. As a student of history, I should have preferred this part of the Resolution not being embodied in it at all. When one reads that part of the Resolution, it reminds one of the Declaration of the Rights of Man which was pronounced by the French Constituent Assembly. I think I am right in suggesting that, after the lapse of practically 450 years, the Declaration of the Right of Man and the principles which are embodied in it has become part and parcel of our mental makeup. I say they have become not only the part and parcel of the mental make-up of modern man in every civilised part of the world, but also in our own country which is so orthodox, so archaic in its thought and its social structure, hardly anyone can be found to deny its validity. To repeat it now as the Resolution does is, to say the least, pure pedantry. These principles have become the silent immaculate premise of our outlook. It is therefore unnecessary to proclaim as forming a part of our creed. The Resolution suffers from certain other lacuna. I find that this part of the Resolution, although it enunciates certain rights, does not speak of remedies. All of us are aware of the fact that rights are nothing unless remedies are provided whereby people can seek to obtain redress when rights are invaded. I find a complete absence of remedies. Even the usual formula, that no man’s life, liberty and property shall be taken without the due process of law, finds no place in the Resolution. These fundamentals set out are made subject to law and morality. Obviously what is law, what is morality will be determined by the Executive of the day and when the Executive may take one view another Executive may take another view and we do not know what exactly would be the position with regard to fundamental rights, if this matter is left to the Executive of the day. Sir, there are here certain provisions which speak of justice, economical, social and political. If this Resolution has a reality behind it and a sincerity, of which I have not the least doubt, coming as it does from the Mover of the Resolution, I should have expected some provision whereby it would have been possible for the State to make economic, social and political justice a reality and I should have from that point of view expected the Resolution to state in most explicit terms that in order that there may be social and economic justice in the country, that there would be nationalisation of industry and nationalisation of land, I do not understand how it could be possible for any future Government which believes in doing justice socially, economically and politically, unless its economy is a socialistic economy. Therefore, personally, although I have no objection to the enunciation of these propositions, the Resolution is, to my mind, somewhat disappointing. I am however prepared to leave this subject where it is with the observations I have made.
Now, I come to the first part of the Resolution which includes the first four paragraphs. As I said, from the debate that has gone on in the House, this has become a matter of controversy. The controversy seems to be centred on the use of that word ‘Republic’. It is centred on the sentence occurring in paragraph 4 “the sovereignty is derived from the people”. Thereby it arises from the point made by my friend Dr. Jayakar yesterday that in the absence of the Muslim League it would not be proper for this Assembly to proceed to deal with this Resolution. Now, Sir, I have got not the slightest doubt in my mind as to the future evolution and the ultimate shape of the social, political and economic structure of this great country. I know today we are divided politically, socially and economically. We are a group of warring camps and I may go even to the extent of confessing that I am probably one of the leaders of such a camp. But, Sir, with all this, I am quite convinced that given time and circumstances nothing in the world will prevent this country from becoming one. (Applause). With all our castes and creeds, I have not the slightest hesitation that we shall in some form be a united people. (Cheers). I have no hesitation in saying that notwithstanding the agitation of the Muslim League for the partition of India someday enough light would dawn upon the Muslims themselves and they too will begin to think that a United India is better even for them. (Loud cheers and applause).
So far as the ultimate goal is concerned, I think none of us need have any apprehensions. None of us need have any doubt. Our difficulty is not about the ultimate future. Our difficulty is how to make the heterogeneous mass that we have to-day take a decision in common and march on the way which leads us to unity. Our difficulty is not with regard to the ultimate, our difficulty is with regard to the beginning. Mr. Chairman, therefore, I should have thought that in order to make us willing friends, in order to induce every party, every section in this country to take on to the road it would be an act of greatest statesmanship for the majority party even to make a concession to the prejudices of people who are not prepared to march together and it is for that, that I propose to make this appeal. Let us leave aside slogans, let us leave aside words which frighten people. Let us even make a concession to the prejudices of our opponents, bring them in, so that they may willingly join with us on marching upon that road, which as I said, if we walk long enough, must necessarily lead us to unity. If I, therefore, from this place support Dr. Jayakar’s amendment, it is because I want all of us to realise that whether we are right or wrong, whether the position that we take is in consonance with our legal rights, whether that agrees with the Statement of May the 16th or December 6th, leave all that aside. This is too big a question to be treated as a matter of legal rights. It is not a legal question at all. We should leave aside all legal considerations and make some attempt, whereby those who are not prepared to come will come. Let us make it possible for them to come- that is my appeal.
In the course of the debate that took place, there were two questions which were raised, which struck me so well that I took the trouble of taking them down on a piece of paper. The one question was, I think, by my friend, the Prime Minister of Bihar who spoke yesterday in this Assembly. He said, how can this Resolution prevent the League from coming into the Constituent Assembly? Today my friend, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookherjee, asked another question, Is this Resolution inconsistent with the Cabinet Mission’s Proposal? Sir, I think they are very important questions and they ought to be answered and answered categorically. I do maintain that this Resolution whether it is intended to bring about the result or not, whether it is a result of cold calculation or whether it is a mere matter of accident is bound to have the result of keeping the Muslim League out. In this connection I should like to invite your attention to paragraph 3 of the Resolution, which I think is very significant and very important. Paragraph 3 envisages the future constitution of India. I do not know what is the intention of the mover of the Resolution, but I take it that after this Resolution is passed, it will act as a sort of a directive to the Constituent Assembly to frame a constitution in terms of para 3 of the Resolution. What does para 3 say? Para 3 says that in this country there shall be two different sets of polity, one at the bottom, autonomous Provinces or the States or such other areas as care to join a United India. These autonomous units will have full power. They will have also residuary powers. At the top, over the Provincial units, there will be a Union Government, having certain subjects for legislation, for execution and for administration. As I read this part of the Resolution, I do not find any reference to the idea of grouping, an intermediate structure between the Union on the one hand and the provinces on the other. Reading this paragraph in the light of the Cabinet Mission’s Statement or reading it even in the light of the Resolution passed by the Congress at its Wardha session, I must confess that I am a great deal surprised at the absence of any reference to the idea of grouping of the provinces. So far as I am personally concerned, I do not like the idea of grouping (hear, hear) I like a strong united Centre, (hear, hear) much stronger than the Centre, we had created under the Government of India Act of 1935. But, Sir, these opinions, these wishes have no bearing on the situation at all. We have travelled a long road. The Congress Party, for reasons best known to itself consented, if I may use that expression, to the dismantling of a strong Centre which had been created in this country as a result of 150 years of administration and which, I must say, was to me a matter of great admiration and respect and refuge. But having given up that position, having said that we do not want a strong Centre, and having accepted that there must be or should be an intermediate polity, a sub-federation between the Union Government and the Provinces I would like to know why there is no reference in paragraphs 3 to the idea of grouping. I quite understand that the Congress Party, the Muslim League and His Majesty’s Government are not ad idem on the interpretation of the clause relating to grouping. But I always thought that- I am prepared to stand corrected if it is shown that I am wrong- at least it was agreed by the Congress Party that if the Provinces which are placed within different groups consent to form a Union or Sub-federation, the Congress would have no objection to that proposal. I believe I am correct in interpreting the mind of the Congress Party. The question I ask is this. Why did not the Mover of this Resolution make reference to the idea of a Union of Provinces or grouping of Provinces on the terms on which he and his party, were prepared to accept it? Why is the idea of Union completely effaced from this Resolution? I find no answer, none whatsoever. I therefore say in answer to the two questions which have been posed here in this Assembly by the Prime Minister of Bihar and Dr. Syama Prasad Mookherjee as to how this Resolution is inconsistent with the Statement of May 16th or how this Resolution is going to prevent the Muslim League from entering this Constituent Assembly, that here is paragraph 3 which- the Muslim League is bound to take advantage of and justify its continued absentation. Sir, my friend Dr. Jayakar, yesterday, in arguing his case for postponing a decision on this issue put his case, if I may say so, without offence to him, somewhat in a legalistic manner. The basis of his argument was, have you the right to do so? He read out certain portions from the Statement of the Cabinet Mission which related to the procedural part of the Constituent Assembly and his contention was that the procedure that this Constituent Assembly was adopting in deciding upon this Resolution straightaway was inconsistent with the procedure that was laid down in that Paper. Sir, I like to put the matter in a somewhat different way. The way I like to put it is this. I am not asking you to consider whether you have the right to pass this Resolution straightaway or not. It may be that you have the right to do so. The question I am asking is this. Is it prudent for you to do so? Is it wise for you to do so? Power is one thing; wisdom is quite a different thing and I want this House to consider this matter from the point of view, not of what authority is vested in this Constituent Assembly, I want this House to consider the matter from another point of view, namely, whether it would be wise, whether it would be statesmanlike, whether it would be prudent to do so at this stage. The answer that I give is that it would not be prudent, it would not be wise. I suggest think another attempt may be made to bring about a solution of the dispute between the Congress and the Muslim League. This subject is so vital, so important that I am sure it could never be decided on the mere basis of dignity of one party or of the dignity of another party. When deciding the destinies of nations, dignities of people, dignities of leaders and dignities of parties ought to count for nothing. The destiny of the country ought to count for everything. It is because I feel that it would in the interest not only of this Constituent Assembly so that it may function as one whole, so that it may have the reaction of the Muslim League before it proceeds to decision that I support Dr. Jayakar’s amendment- we must also consider what is going to happen with regard to the future, if we act precipitately. I do not know, what plans the Congress Party, which holds this House in its possession, has in its mind? I have no power of divination to know what they are thinking about. What are their tactics, what is their strategy, I do not know. But applying my mind as an outsider to the issue that has arisen, it seems to me there are only three ways by which the future will be decided. Either there shall have to be surrender by the one party to the wishes of the other- that is one way. The other way would be what I call a negotiated peace and the third way would be open war. Sir, I have been hearing from certain members of the Constituent Assembly that they are prepared to go to war. I must confess that I am appalled at the idea that anybody in this country should think of solving the political problems of this country by the method of war. I do not know how many people in this country support that idea. A good many perhaps do and the reason why I think they do, is because most of them, at any rate a great many of them, believe that the war that they are thinking of, would be a war on the British. Well, Sir, if the war that is contemplated that is in the mind of people can be localised, circumscribed, so that it will not be more than a war on the British, I probably may not have much objection to that sort of strategy. But will it be a war on the British only? I have no hesitation and I do want to place before this House in the clearest terms possible that if war comes in this country and if that war has any relation to the issue with which we are confronted today, it will not be a war on the British. It will be a war on the Muslims. It will be a war on the Muslims or, which is probably worse, it will be a war on a combination of the British and the Muslims. I cannot see how this contemplated war be of the sort different from what I fear it will be. Sir, I like to read to the House a passage from Burke’s great speech on Conciliation with America. I believe this may have some effect upon the temper of this House. The British people as you know were trying to conquer the rebellious colonies of the United States, and bring them under their subjection contrary to their wishes. In repelling this idea of conquering the colonies this is what Burke said:-
“First, Sir, permit me to observe, that the use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered. “My next objection is its uncertainty. Terror is not always the effect of force an amendment is not a victory. If you do not succeed, you are without resource for, conciliation failing, force remains; but, force failing, no further hope of reconciliation is left. Power and authority are sometimes bought by kindness; but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence…. “A further objection to force is, that you impair the object by you very endeavours to preserve it. The thing you fought for is not the thing which you recover; but depreciated, sunk, wasted and consumed in the contest.”
These are weighty words which it would be perilous to ignore if there is anybody who has in his mind the project of solving the Hindu-Muslim problem by force, which is another name of solving it by war, in order that the Muslims may be subjugated and made to surrender to the Constitution that might be prepared without their consent. This country would be involved in perpetually conquering, them. The conquest would not be once and for ever. I do not wish to take more time than I have taken and I will conclude by again referring to Burke. Burke has said somewhere that it is easy to give power, it is difficult to give wisdom. Let us prove by our conduct that if this Assembly has arrogated to itself sovereign powers it is prepared to exercise them with wisdom. That is the only way by which we which we can carry with us all sections of the country. There is no other way that can lead us to unity. Let us not have no doubt on that point.
Sir, I stand here to support the Resolution which was so ably and eloquently moved by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. Sir, the Resolution places before this Assembly the objective which we must have in view before we start on our labour. This is undoubtedly a unique and solemn occasion in the history of India when the chosen people of this country have assembled here to prepare a charter of liberty and a scheme of governance for the people and by the people. Sir, before we set to work we must send a message of hope and cheer to the dumb millions of this country and to the world outside whose eyes at this moment are fixed upon us. And I believe this Resolution will give a new hope of an early realization of their dreams to the teeming millions, the dumb masses of this country, who have been struggling hard for the last many years to achieve freedom. Sir, in this matter of the fight for freedom, as in many others, history repeats itself. Ours is not the only country which has to struggle so long and so hard. The Goddess of Liberty must take her due toll of sacrifice from everyone. It may be that the struggle is violent and has been violent elsewhere, and nonviolent in this country. For this and for many other things for which this country stands today and hopes to achieve in the future, we owe a great debt of gratitude to that master-mind, Mahatma Gandhi, whom Pandit Nehru described as the Father of the Indian Nation.
Sir, the Constituent Assembly is the culmination of the final stage of the struggle for freedom. The Resolution before this House is an expression of the pent-up emotions of the millions of this country. It can be divided into three parts. The first part deals with the declaration of an Independent Sovereign Republic of India. The second deals with autonomous units, having residuary powers with a Union of them all i.e., including the Indian States. The third part deals with social and economic freedom and justice to all and with adequate safeguards for the minorities, backward classes and tribal areas. Opinions may differ with regard to the exact wording of the Resolution or its brevity in certain respects, but taken as a whole it is an expression of the will of the people of this country.
Sir, my Hon’ble friend, Dr. Jayakar, for whom I have got the, highest respect, objected to this Resolution being moved and taken into consideration on the floor of this House at this stage on the ground that we are at this preliminary session precluded from taking into consideration any other matter excepting those three which are set out in paragraph 19 of the Cabinet Mission’s Statement. He further suggested that the House would be well advised to take this matter on the 20th of January, when we meet again after we adjourn for the Christmas. My Hon’ble friend probably knows when we meet again on the 20th of January for completing our unfinished business, we will be meeting again in a preliminary session and if he objects to this Resolution being taken into consideration today, his objection holds good also when we meet again on the 20th of January. (Hear, hear).
Sir, the second point that lies suggested was that we should postpone its consideration for a few weeks so that the Muslim League and the States may have an opportunity to have their say on this matter. I am one of those who regret very much that the Muslim League is not present here today in this House and also value and seek the co-operation of the Muslim League. But it is not the fault of this House that those friends are absent today and we do not know when they may join us. It is not, therefore, fair to this House, having assembled here, to wait indefinitely without knowing when the other party is coming in. With regard to the States, if my Hon’ble friend were to study the State Paper, he would find that it is clearly laid down that States will come at the last stage when we, after completing our provincial constitutions, reassemble for the Union Constitution making. Are we to postpone a resolution of this nature to the very last stage when a good part of our constitution has been framed? A resolution of this importance must be considered and adopted at the beginning of our work.
Another objection to this Resolution was taken by Dr. Ambedkar that he did not find the word “grouping” mentioned anywhere. Dr. Ambedkar should know that grouping is an optional matter and, if I may say so, almost all of us are against grouping. Even the State Paper leaves it to the option of the Sections or the Provinces. In a resolution of this kind the Mover could not put in what the Sections may decide otherwise or the Provinces may decide otherwise.
The Indian States may find some objection to the word “Republic” being used in the Resolution. Indian States have been used to the monarchical system of government and they may have some fears on that score but in the light of the speech of Pandit Nehruji those fears are entirely unjustified. In an Indian Republic the people of the Indian States, if they so choose can retain a monarchical form of government in their own part of the country.
I believe, Sir, that the exact scheme when it emerges from the labours of the Constituent Assembly will be such as will be acceptable to all the elements in Indian life and will be suited to the talents and the peculiar conditions of this country.
The second portion of the Resolution deals with the Union and the autonomous units, residuary powers being given to the units. Some of us may have serious objection to the residuary powers being given to the Units, but this proposal is in accord with the State Paper Scheme and is an essential part of paragraph 15. It may be a bitter pill for most of us, but it has got to be swallowed.
The third part of the Resolution gives an assurance to the minorities and the backward classes that their interests will be adequately safeguarded. Now, Sir, in this connection my community feels that the safeguard should not only be adequate but should be satisfactory to the Sikhs and the other minorities concerned. With your permission, Sir, I would like to acquaint the House with the solemn assurances given to the Sikhs in the Congress Resolution of December 1929, passed at the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress. The relevant portion of the Resolution which related to the Sikhs and the minorities read, as follows:
“No solution thereof (i.e., the communal problem) in any future constitution of India will be acceptable to the Congress which does not give full satisfaction to the Muslims, Sikhs, other minorities.”
Ever since this resolution was passed, the Sikhs have made a common cause and have fought the country’s battle for freedom side by side with the Congress. Unfortunately, when the British Mission came and formulated their proposals, i.e., the Statement of May 16, although they admitted the Sikhs to be one of the three main communities in India, they completely failed to provide any protection or safeguards for the Sikhs. In the case of the Mussalmans, the Mission pointed out that there was a real apprehension of their culture, and political and social life becoming submerged in a unitary India, in which the Hindus would be a dominant element. They however entirely failed to realise the same plight of the Sikhs in the Punjab which is the Holy Land and the Homeland of the Sikhs under a Muslim majority. It was the height of injustice on the part of the Cabinet Delegation not to have provided similar safeguards for the Sikhs in the Punjab and the ‘B’ Section, as they had provided for the Muslims in the Union. Sir Stafford Cripps, while speaking in the House of Commons the other day, remarked that they could not give similar rights to the Sikhs in the Punjab and the ‘B’ Section as they had given to the Musalmans in the Union, as a similar right would have had to be given to other minorities. May I ask whether the Mission took into consideration the other minorities when they provided safeguards for the Mussalmans in the Union Centre? They did not consider the Sikhs although they were admitted to be one of the main communities of India. On the other hand, I feel that the Sikhs have a stronger claim for having similar safeguards in the Punjab than the Mussalmans have in the Union Centre. I also feel and believe that any safeguards given to the Sikhs in Section’ B’ and in the Punjab will be a guarantee for the protection of the rights of other minorities in that area. As nothing was done by the Mission, a wave of indignation went throughout the entire Sikh community and their indignation rose to the highest pitch. A resolution was passed by the Sikhs at a special meeting held at Amritsar- their holy centre, that the Constituent Assembly should be boycotted and the Sikhs did boycott the Assembly. The Congress, however, accepted the proposals of the Cabinet Mission, and eminent leaders of the Congress appealed to the Sikhs to accept the proposals also. Sardar Patel particularly pleaded the cause of the Sikhs at the All-India Congress Committee session in Bombay and our sincere thinks are due to him. In the House of Lords on the 18th July last, while speaking on a debate, the Secretary of State made significant reference to the Sikhs in the following words:
“It is, however, essential that fullest consideration should be given to their claims for they are a distinct and important community, but on population basis adopted they lose their weightage. This situation will, to some extent, we hope, be remedied by their full representation in the Advisory Committee on Minorities set up under paragraph 20 of the Statement of May 16.”
He further said:
“Over and above that, we have represented to the two major parties who were both most receptive in this matter that some special means of giving the Sikhs a strong position in the affairs of the Punjab or in the N.-W. Group should be devised.”
This assurance, though satisfactory in some respects, was not sufficient to change the attitude of the Sikh community towards the Constituent Assembly. Then, on the 9th August, the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution appealing to the Sikhs to reconsider their position. The resolution stated:
“The Committee are aware that injustice has been done to the Sikhs and they have drawn attention of the Cabinet Delegation to it. We are, however, strongly of the opinion that the Sikhs would serve their cause and the cause of the country’s freedom better by participation in the Constituent Assembly than by keeping out of it. It therefore appeals to the Sikhs to reconsider their decision and express their willingness to take part in the Constituent Assembly. The Working Committee assures the Sikhs that Congress will give them all possible support in redressing their legitimate grievances and in securing adequate safeguard.”
The Sikhs reviewed the whole position on the 14th August. The resolution of the Congress Working Committee carried the greatest weight with them, and it was on that account that the Panthic Board, which was called at a special meeting, decided to lift the ban on participation in the work of the Constituent Assembly. The resolution of the Panthic Board decided to give the Constituent Assembly a trial to secure for the Sikhs similar safeguards as were given to the Mussalmans in the Union. The Sikh members are here assembled according to that mandate. I have great faith in the Congress leaders and sincerely hope that the assurances given to the Sikhs will be implemented without delay as the time has come for the translation of those solemn words into action.
I am sorry to take the time of the House in going in a little detail into the Sikh position, but I thought it my duty to acquaint the House with the Sikh case. Let me, however, make it clear that the safeguards which the Sikhs demand for their due and strong position in the Punjab and the North West, are meant to be provided within the Indian Republic and not outside. They are anxious that all communities may live together in harmony and peace. They are prepared to live happily with their Mussalman brothers in the Punjab and the North West, even treating them as elder brothers, but not as a superior ruling race or a separate nation. The Sikhs, therefore, cannot tolerate the partition of this great and ancient land. They will stoutly oppose the establishment of Pakistan and all that it implies or stands for.
Sir, if I may be permitted to say, the Sikhs have a burning passion for freedom. No single community in the history of India has struggled so long and so, hard as the Sikhs have done to drive away foreign hordes from this land; and in recent times, their record of sacrifice in the battle of country’s freedom is second to none. They will continue to march with the Congress in its fight for independence with unabated zeal and vigour. (Hear, hear) They, however, want their separate entity and position to be maintained and strengthened so that they may be able to contribute their full quota to the service of the country.
Sir, I realise that it is a stupendous task that this august Assembly has set itself to accomplish. There are hurdles and obstacles in our way, but I feel certain that we will be able to cross those hurdles and overcome all those obstacles if we deliberate with caution, act with decision and, if need be, oppose with firmness. With these words, Sir, I support the Resolution. (Cheers)
*[Mr. Chairman, in the Central Assembly and in the Council of State I speak in English as the Rules demand it; but hereafter so many English speeches I would like to speak in the language of my country.
I have came to speak for the Resolution and against the amendments. While speaking in favour of the Resolution I cannot resist the desire to offer my thanks to the Hon’ble Dr. Jayakar for his beautiful speech. I was surprised to hear of Dr. Jayakar’s amendment yesterday. Dr. Jayakar and I have been friends since the days of the Swaraj Party- I can understand his amendment. I can understand his desire to defer voting on the Resolution until the Muslim League joins; but I fail to understand the logic of the arguments advanced by him in support of his contention. I do not want to speak on the legal aspect of his arguments. That is the work of the lawyers. What surprises me is his assertion that if we passed the Resolution now, we will finish our work without achieving what we desire. That puts me in mind of the days prior to 1920; when our Moderates were at a loss to know what to do and saw everywhere nothing but frustration and disappointment. We have not met here simply to sit together, talk a lot, and then disperse without achieving any result. It will be our duty to see that we achieve results. Just at present it is not necessary to say what we are going to do and how far we are going to proceed. Suffice it to say that we shall achieve speedy and substantial results. Dr. Jayakar has spoken of war. The Congress people and the people who believe in the principle of Satyagraha always desire peace and no war. They, however, want true peace and not the peace of the graveyard.
The greatest gift that Mahatmaji has, given to the world is Satyagraha. Satyagrahis want peace but when they see that true peace is impossible without having resort to war, they get ready to give their lives in a war of Ahinsa. I, therefore, say we do not want war. We want peace. We neither want to fight with the Muslims nor with the British Government. If, however, the British Government wishes to fight with us making Muslims their Shikhandi, we will not do what Bhisham Patama did. We will not lay down our arms because Shikhandi is made to stand against us. We do desire our brethren of the Muslim League to come and cooperate with us. If, however, with all our solicitations, with all our patience and with all our desire for peace, they do not come, we are not going to stop our work for them. Dr. Jayakar has not told us whether our Muslim brethren would join us if we postponed the consideration of the Resolution till the 20th January. If we were assured that they would join us, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, I think, would perhaps, be the first person to say that if his Muslim brethren were coming in, he would postpone Resolution.
Panditji told us in so many words that the Resolution was an undertaking–a pledge. When one signs a pledge, he signs it with full sense of responsibility of what he was doing. As this Resolution is a pledge when we pass it, we will pass it with a full sense of our responsibility.
The Resolution speaks of a Republic. There may be a difference of opinion whether the Republic should be a democratic republic or a socialist republic. But, to discuss it at this juncture would be meaningless. Whenever the world is in need of a thing it creates it. Keeping in view the condition of the world and the plight of India, we can say that our republic will be both democratic and socialist. I desire to tell the people who feel chary of socialism and tremble at hearing of its tenets that not only the people who have nothing are miserable but the people who possess everything are also in sorrow. The former are miserable because they labour under the desire to possess everything and the later are unhappy because they have to resort to hundreds and thousands of knaveries and evasions. They perform acts that are not in the least considered fair in the eyes of Justice. If these people, while ignoring justice, pretend to protect and champion it, I tell you, they never get true happiness. I am myself of the people who possess everything; but I feel that if true peace is to be realized, it can only be realized through socialism. No other system can give us true peace. There can be no doubt that our republic will be both democratic and socialist.
As to preventing us doing this work, I desire to make it known that both the British Government and the Muslim League cannot stop us from doing what we intend to do. Our country is so vast and its population is so great that even the British Government cannot now put obstacles in the way of its freedom and progress.
To my brethren of the Muslim League, I desire to say something, and say it with all the emphasis at my disposal, that if the British, who are foreigners, put obstacles in the path of our freedom, nobody in history will held them blameworthy; but, if persons, who are born in this country who are bred in it, and who consume its produce, try to come in the way of its freedom they will be censured by their own progeny. As for the British, they cannot block our way to freedom; but so far as our Muslim League brethren are concerned, they may take it from me in plain words that if they allied themselves with the British to keep this country in slavish subjugation, future generations will hold them blameworthy and they will get this stigma without stopping us from achieving our freedom.
If the British Government adhering to the statements issued in the last few days, tried not to enact a new Government of India Act, in the light of the decisions of this Constituent Assembly, I tell them that their efforts in this respect are doomed to failure. They have always tried to keep India and other countries under their subjugation by not allowing them to solve their own problems. If, they played the same game will this country now, the time will perhaps never come for the presentation of a Government of India Act in the British Parliament and no Indo-British Treaty will ever be signed. I do not say this on behalf of the Congress. I see the future, when, if the British failed to translate the decisions of this Constituent Assembly into some solid form of action, a parallel government will be set up here and the whole of England will have to fight it. People coming from across the seven seas will not be able to win our war of Ahimsa. I fully believe in it.
I do not want to take more time; but before the chit comes to me asking me to stop, I appeal to you that you should pass this Resolution not as a resolution but as a pledge with full sense of responsibility of what you do and go forward in the manner of a free country.]*
It is now 1 o’clock. The House stands adjourned till Eleven o’clock tomorrow morning. In the afternoon we have got a meeting of the Rules Committee and we shall not be able to meet here.
The Assembly then adjourned till Eleven of the Clock, on Wednesday, the 18th December, 1946.
I should like to know the time limit during which amendments to that Resolution may be accepted.