British Policy and Indian Response 1939–42
By the autumn of 1939 the Congress leadership had managed to secure at least partial control over the enlarged and diversified nationalist organisation that had emerged from the 1937 elections and the ministry period. In the struggle for the initiative between the established central Congress leaders and their provincial subordinates and radical critics, the goal of putting pressure on the British position in India had been somewhat lost to view. Threatened and actual confrontations with the Raj had proved useful devices in internal Congress politics, they had served to secure unity and to silence criticism early in 1937 and at the Haripura session, and to add a veneer of ideology to the Bose revolt. But between 1937 and 1939 the all-India Congress leaders had been fully occupied by internal problems and had had neither the opportunity nor the power to further the struggle against the British for freedom and independence directly. The manner in which the Congress had succeeded in seizing the initiative in the provinces in 1936–7 and in filling the vacuum in provincial government created by the 1935 Act disturbed and alarmed the British bureaucrats in India, but did not fundamentally affect the new imperial strategy of abandoning the provinces and retreating to entrenched positions in central government. When the British position in India was subjected to the first strains of a fresh attack in 1939 this came, not from any major accession of strength to its Indian opponents, but by the impact of the unprecedented imperial crisis of the Second World War.
KeywordsCivil Disobedience Indian Response Indian Leader Working Committee Executive Council
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