Rajagopalachari Formula

C.R. Formula

C.Rajagopalachari (or Rajaji), the veteran Congress leader, realising the necessity of a settlement between the Congress and the Muslim League for the attainment of independence, gave a formula which called for remaining united till independence; and after the attainment of independence, the masses of Muslim-dominated areas shall decide by plebiscite, the issue of separation from India. In the event of separation, a mutual agreement shall be entered into between the two governments for jointly safeguarding defence, commerce, communications and other essential sectors, etc. Gandhi supported the C. R. Formula. Whereas, Hindu leaders led by Vir Savarkar condemned the C.R. Formula.

The main points in the C.R. Formula were:

  • Muslim League to endorse Congress demand for independence- The Muslim League would endorse the demand for independence and co-operate with the Congress in forming a provisional government for a transition period.
  • After the end of the war, the entire population of Muslim majority areas in the North-West and North-East India to decide by plebiscite, whether or not to form a separate sovereign state.
  • In case of acceptance of partition, agreement to be made jointly for safeguarding defence, commerce, communications, and other essential matters.
  • The above terms to be binding only in case of transfer by England of full power and responsibility of the Government of India.

Jinnah's objections to the C.R. Formula

Jinnah wrote to Gandhiji for elucidation of various points of detail in the Rajagopalachari formula. Gandhiji in offering the clarifications sought, added that the Lahore Resolution of the League being indefinite, Rajaji had taken it the substance and given it a shape., but Jinnah in his reply claimed that Rajaji had mutilated that substance.

And so the wordy exchange continued and ended in smoke as it was bound to, because of the radical differences of approach and objectives between the Congress and the Muslim League.

Jinnah wanted the Congress to accept the two-nation theory. He also opposed the idea of a common centre. Jinnah was contending that the Muslims of India, as a separate nation, had the right of self determination, and the Muslims alone were to be entitled to vote for partition and not the whole population of the disputed areas. In other words, the right of self determination which he claimed for the Muslims was to be denied to the non-Muslims in those areas. Gandhiji refused to accept this position or the postulate of a separate nationhood.

While the Congress was ready to cooperate with the Muslim League for independence of the Indian Union, the Muslim League did not care for independence of the Union. It was only interested in a separate nation.

Figure showing a newspaper article on Rajaji's Pact

Image showing Gandhiji and C. Rajagopalachari

A postage stamp in memory of C.Rajagopalachari

Brief Summary

In April 1944, C. Rajagopalachari proposed a solution: a post war commission would be formed to demarcate the contiguous districts where the Muslims were in absolute majority, and there a plebiscite of the adult population would decide whether they would prefer Pakistan, in case of a partition there would be a mutual agreement to run essential services, like defence, communication, etc. , the border districts could choose to join either of the two sovereign states, the implementation of the scheme would wait till after full transfer of power. In July, 1944, Gandhiji proposed talks with Jinnah on the basis of Rajaji formula, which indeed amounted to an acceptance of Pakistan demand. But Jinnah did not agree to this proposal and Gandhi-Jinnah talks in September 1944 broke down. In Gandhiji's view, the talks failed because of fundamental differences in perspectives: while he looked at separation as within the family and therefore preferred to retain some elements of partnership, Jinnah wanted complete dissolution with sovereignty. It is difficult to tell, however, whether Gandhiji's perception was true or Jinnah at this stage was not contemplating partition, but was fighting for his principal demand for the recognition of parity between Hindus and Muslims as two equal nations, whatever their numbers might have been.

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