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Secret memo from the British government on Gandhi's actions in 1944
(Catalogue ref: PREM 4/49/3)
Source 5a

W.P. (44) 396
18th July, 1944.


Memorandum by the Secretary of State for India.

1. My colleagues would no doubt wish to have a brief review of the political pronouncements made recently by or on behalf of Gandhi. On the 29th June he made his first approach to a public appearance since his release in an address to a small group of Congress workers, in which he reaffirmed his belief in non-violence and non-violent non-co-operation, and urged Congressmen to have faith in their cause and avoid any sense of frustration over the failure of 1942. ......

Source 5b

2. There followed a series of statements by or attributed to Gandhi. The News Chronicle published a report of the interview with Gandhi by their correspondent, Gelder. This report was stated later by Gandhi to be fairly accurate but to contain some glaring inaccuracies, and on the 12th July he issued two statements which together covered the same ground as Gelder's despatch. He described them as notes prepared after discussion with Gelder, the first purporting to be notes kept for publication after Gelder had communicated his impressions of Gandhi to the Viceroy, the second to be notes for the journalist to discuss with anyone wishing to understand Gandhi's mind. The substance of the first statement is that Gandhi would explain, if the Viceroy saw him, that he is ready to help and not hinder the war effort, but that he could do nothing without seeing the Working Committee.

Source 5c

3. The second statement added the following points:-
(a) That Gandhi would never use the weapon of civil disobedience during the war unless for a very grave reason, such as the thwarting of India's right to freedom; he has no intention of offering civil disobedience to-day;
(b) That he would be satisfied with a National Government with full control of the civil administration composed of persons chosen by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly; this would mean a declaration of independence qualified as in (e) below during the war;
(c) That the Viceroy would be, like the King of England, guided by responsible Ministers;
(d) That popular government would be automatically restored in all Provinces;
(e) That while under the National Government the Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief would have complete control of military operations, there would be a portfolio of Defence in the hands of the National Government, which "would be genuinely interested in the defence of the country and may render great assistance in the shaping of policies";
(f) That Allied Forces would be allowed to carry on operations on Indian soil: the expenses of such operations should not be borne by India; and
(g) That Gandhi would advise Congress to participate in the National Government if formed.
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