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The August Offer (1940)
To win over the sympathies of the Indian masses and political parties during the war, His Majesty’s Government issued a White Paper on August 8, 1940. The document, which later on is known as the August Offer in history books, promised for the establishment of an independent Indian Constituent Assembly with completely indigenous representation and a power to frame the future constitution of the country. The offer also provided the option for the extension of the Viceroy’s Executive Council. Simultaneously, the August Offer talked about the rights of minorities, especially Muslims as it declared that the majority community will not be given the veto power and full weight would be given to the views of minorities in making the Constitution. However, the document made it clear that all the promises will be fulfilled after the conclusion of the war and that too if all the communities and political parties would help the British in their war efforts.
To discuss the August Offer, Quaid-i-Azam held meetings with the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, on August 12 and 14. This was followed by the meeting of the Muslim League Working Committee on September 1 and 2. The Committee appreciated the clauses of the offer in which the British agreed to accept that no future constitution will be recognized by the Government without the approval and consent of the minority communities. However, the committee showed its reservations on issues like the composition of the Executive Council and the vagueness of the War Advisory Council. The working Committee also made it clear that no formula was accepted to the party which was against the spirit of the Lahore Resolution, which declared that the Muslims of India were a nation by themselves and they alone were the final judges and arbiters of their future destiny. The Indian National Congress also opposed the offer and their president, Abul Kalam Azad, even refused to discuss the formula with the Viceroy.