Freedom Files : Creating a communal cleave
The diabolical Nawab of Bhopal played saboteur, flirting with Jinnah and Britain on one hand and Kathiawar on the other
The Nawab of Bhopal Sir Hafiz Hamidullah Khan, saboteur in chief as Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes was constantly looking at ways and means to stay out of the dragnet of the Congress and the ambit of the new Dominion of India. As the end neared, he grew more desperate. His attempts at garnering support for a Third Dominion over and above India and Pakistan were legendary and in his role as Mohd. Ali Jinnah's instrumentality inside the Chamber to create a communal cleave amongst the Princes themselves, he was masterful. Jinnah for obvious reasons saw a bigger Pakistan, one that included Princely states like J&K, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Junagadh. Bhopal conspired with Maharaja Hari Singh's PM Ram Chandra Kak to keep J&K also out of the Congress purview. Plots were hatched, conspiracies abounded as Bhopal, Travancore and Kashmir backed by the Nizam of Hyderabad resorted to subterfuge and chicanery to keep the Indian National Congresss at bay. Among the many machinations in this kerfuffle was the Nawab of Bhopal's impassioned plea to the Kathiawar Princes enlisting their aid and assistance. The writer's research using hitherto unpublished documentation reveals the state of play. It shows how the treacherous Nawab of Bhopal was the centrifugal force, his diabolical stratagems always irksome for the Congress leadership. Jinnah used Bhopal to foment trouble and keep his own hands clean like Pontius Pilate. But it remained a chimera.

The game was afoot when Winston Churchill asked Viceroy Lord Wavell to keep a bit of India. Jinnah, Bhopal, Kashmir climbed on the bandwagon with Sir Conrad Corfield head of the secretive British Political Department used every trick in the book and outside of it to keep the Princes in their fold. Jinnah and Bhopal connived to keep Churchill in the loop using linkages through Paramountcy to stay afloat. All designs stemmed from anti Congressism.


1.Mr Jinnah before his departure for London received fullest assurance from Nawab of Bhopal that Princes could be depended upon to fall in line with a policy, which His Majesty’s Government may initiate after London talks.
2.Mr Jinnah was armed with a letter from the Nawab of Bhopal categorically expressing the “hostility of the states to the Congress and solidarity with the League and any other minorities who may come forward to challenge the authority of the Congress.
3.“The states can never ideologically agree with the so-called progressive reaction of the Congress and that Congress policy hitherto has convinced the Princes that their safety and their very survival would depend on British support and the help of such friends as the League.”
4.Referring to the bond between British Crown and Indian Princes, assurance has been given saying “States would meet the challenges thrown down by the Congress to dominate the country irrespective of the well-recognised and well-established rights of every other party in the country.”
5.“Together with the Muslim League the Indian Princes would stand for the maintenance of the British connection either as individual units or as a combined state on a par with proposed state of Pakistan.”
This confidential and explosive note came on the back of similar contrivances with other like-minded Princelings. For instance, Bhopal wrote to the Kasthiawar Princes in August the same year.

Confederation of the States of Kathiawar replies (see box)

1.Many thanks for your secret letter dated the 13th July, 46 on the above subject. I have read the resolution of your meeting and the record of its proceedings with much interest. And congratulate Your Highness and the other Rulers concerned on a very timely and constructive lead on this important matter. I am also glad to note the reference in Your Highness opening remarks at the meeting to:
(a) The appeal made by me at the recent Bombay meetings to eliminate any chances of misunderstanding or division amongst Princes at this juncture and to my assurance of every possible support to my brother Princes of the so-called smaller States:
(b) The desirability of maintaining solidarity of all the Rulers of Kathiawar at this juncture. In this connection, I associate myself whole-heartedly with the unanimous-opinion expressed at your meeting to invite HH the Maharaja Jam Maharaj to accept the Chairmanship of your Committee and to give it the benefit ‘of his able guidance!’
(c) The note on grouping and confederation of States prepared by the Director of my Secretariat on which the important questions referred to your Committee in paragraph 5 of the Resolution have been based. Your Highness can always rely on my support and that of the Secretariat.

2.Your Highness has been good enough to invite my comments on the resolution adopted by your meeting and you wish to communicate these views to the Princes in your group. You will appreciate that any expression of views by me at this stage can only be personal and provisional subject to reconsideration, if necessary, after the receipt of the recommendation of the specific committee, which is meeting this month in Bhopal and the decisions thereon which may be taken by the Standing Committee of Princes and Ministers. Nevertheless, I feel that I must respond to your Highness’ query even though the views expressed at this stage would only be personal and provisional. On this basis, my preliminary reactions which are only intended to assist Your Highness and your group, are indicated below:-
(a) The resolution adopted by Your Committee is a wise and timely step in the right direction.
(b) For obvious reasons, it would be desirable for the Committee set up under sub-para 3 of the resolution to await the recommendation of the special all India State Committee on this subject which will be meeting in Bhopal towards the end of this month and which would include a representative of your group.
(c) It is necessary to make each regional group as fully representative of the States in the region as possible.
(d) It would be advisable to leave the door open for the affiliation of such group with the all-India Confederation of States, subject of course to the terms of affiliation and the constitution of the All-India State Confederation being acceptable to the group. Their recommendation has been endorsed by the special meeting of the Drafting Committee which met recently in Bhopal and which included Sir Manubhai N Mehta, Sir CP Ramaswami Aiyer, Sir Sultan Ahmed, Sardar DK Sen, Sir Ganga Kaula, Mr TD Raja, Sardar Ranbir Singh and Mir Maqbool Mahmud. The recommendations of this Committee will be reviewed by the Special Committee on grouping, which will meet here next week.
(e)It was suggested at your meeting that contacts be initiated with public leaders of your area in regard to the proposed plan. While such contacts would be desirable at a later stage, Your Highness will doubtless appreciate the advisability of postponing such regional contacts till such time as the basic conditions have been settled on All-India basis between the Negotiating Committee set up by the States and a corresponding Committee, which may soon be set up by British Indian Representatives on the Constituent Assembly. All India contacts at that level and on that basis are likely to lead to better results than regional contacts at this stage. I trust that there is no idea to initiate such contacts immediately in your region and that they will be undertaken at a later stage when atmosphere has been created through proposed negotiations on all India level.

3.I shall now deal with the three questions suggested by your meeting as stated in paragraph 3 of your letter:
(1) How will members from the Kathiawar States be elected (or nominated) to the Constituent Assembly?
The method of selection of the State Representatives to the constituent Assembly is one of the items to be discussed between our Negotiating Committee and the Corresponding British Indian Committee. Even the participation of the States in that body would depend on satisfactory settlement of the conditions on which they could join it. Till then, no definite indication can be given to this question. The drafting Committee which met recently in Bhopal recommended that States or Groups of States which get multiple seats on the Constituent Assembly, should include in their representation a fair proportion, such as half, out of non-official elements in their States. No decision has, however, been taken and the position will be discussed at the next meeting of the Standing Committee of Princes.
(ii)What is Your Highness’ personal opinion as to what constitutes Union-level from your knowledge of facts and observations? The criterion of adherence of a State Unit to the All-India Constitutional structure at the Union Level is also a matter of negotiation between the two Committees mentioned in the last sub-para. Your Highness doubtless remember that Sir Conrad Corfield indicated at the meetings in Bombay that though the qualification required for States unit to be eligible to join all India Constitutional structure at Union Level would have to be settled through the discussion in the Negotiating Committee proposed. It was most likely that the States’ unit considered eligible to adhere at the Union level will have to be comparable to a Provincial nit. He added that the detailed basis of this comparison would have to be settled through negotiations with the parties concerned but prime-facie area, population and resources would be included amongst factors to be considered. He further hinted that small Provinces, which themselves lacked adequate resources, may not be regarded as a suitable basis of comparison.
(iii)And whether the Kathiawar States come up to this standard. The answer to this question could only be given after the conclusion of negotiations suggested in the last sub-para. In the meantime, it prima-facie seems likely as indicated by Sir Conrad in Bombay, that if all the Kathiawar States join together they would form a Unit eligible to adhere to the Union Level. Moreover, recent discussions have shown that larger a group the greater its utility to its component states. Moreover, attention may be invited to the points mentioned in the enclosed circular, which I have recently issued on the subject.
4.I shall be delighted to keep your Highness in touch with all developments relating to the grouping of States as also with the work of the Special Committee which will soon be meeting in Bhopal. Your Highness also need not hesitate to ask me for any further information or assistance which I can give in this matter.

This extraordinary Meeting of the Princes of Kathiawar held at Dhrangadhra on the 9th July, 1946 is unanimously resolved as follows:

1. the meeting favoured the formation, without undue delay, of a Confederation of the States of Kathiawar with a view to securing for the States their due position in the polity of India and to promoting the welfare of their people.
2.Further this meeting is generally of opinion that the above objects would be better achieved by a larger group, which may comprise the sub-group of Western Indian, Gujarat, Rajputana and Central Indian States.
3.This meeting therefore, appoints a Committee composed of
His Highness the Raj Sabeh of Dhrangadhra
His Highness the Maharaja Saheb of Palitana
The Dewan, Porbandar State
The Dewan, Norvi State
The Dewan, Wankener State
and invites the other Rulers of the Kathiawar States who could not attend this meeting to join this committee or nominate their Dewans on it, and give it their full support and cooperation; the Meeting hopes that these Rulers will generally endorse this Resolution and suggest such modifications to the Committee as they may consider necessary.
4.The function of this Committee shall be firstly to formulate the basic scheme of the proposed Confederation and secondly to establish contracts with the States mentioned in paragraph 2 above to elicit their reviews.
5.The more important questions that the Committee will have to consider will be:
(a) Functions of the proposed Confederation vis-à-vis:
(i)The all-India Union
(ii) The Confederation inter se
(iii) The all-India Confederation of States if set up
(iv) Individual States in the Confederation
(b) Procedure in regard to the working of the Confederation and the method of voting therein:-
(i) On personal and dynastic questions relating to the Rulers and their dynasties and the integrity of States.
(ii) On the Subject which may be delegated by the states to the Confederation out of those subjects in the federal list and the concurrent list appended to the Government of India Act 1935, which may be transferred from the Centre to the Provincial and States Units
(iii) On subjects concerning the all-India Union
(iv) On subjects concerning the individual States inter se
(c) What should be the method of entry of the individual State into the Confederation? Should it be by signing the agreed constitution or through treaty or agreement or otherwise?
(d) Should there be a right of secession from the Confederation? If so, under what conditions?
(e) Will the Confederation have certain joint administrative machinery” If so, for what purposes and on what terms?
In this connection, the following specific aspects would deserve to be examined.
(ii) Legislative
(iii) Judicial
(iv) Administrative
(v) Financial
(f) Will the measures of cooperation in the Confederation be uniform for all States or will variations to suit special conditions be permissible?
(g) In view of the likely growth of representative institutions in the States throughout India following questions would also deserve considerations: -
(i)What would be the relationship of the legislatures of individuals States to any legislature proposed for the Confederation?
(ii)Should there be two Houses – one consisting of Rulers of their nominees and the other of the representative of peoples or of the States’ legislatures?
(h)(i) Method of selection of the representatives of this Confederation to the all-India Union Legislatures
(ii) Liaison between those representatives and (a) the Confederation (b) individual States in the Confederation
(i) Questions of defence and internal security for the Confederation in view of the future developments and the termination of paramountcy.
(j) Industrial and agricultural development and economic planning for the Confederation.
(k) The framing of an estimate budget of income and expenditure for the Confederation including details of the Secretariat etc. and how the requisite funds would be raised?
(l) What adjustments would require to be made in the constitution of the Confederation of this Confederation is to join other Confederations to form a Major group and what powers should be delegated by the former to the latter?
(m)Whether the contemplated Major Group should constitute one solid block or whether it should be permissible to have sub-groups in it such as Western India, Gujarat, Rajputana and so on?
(n) Whether the door should be left open for this Major Group to affiliate with the All-India Confederation of States, if and when set up, provided the terms of affiliation and the Constitution of the all-India Confederation of States are acceptable.
The 9th July, 1946

The Princes and their wily Dewans kept pushing the envelope, but with Churchill losing and Clement Attlee replacing him and he in turn packing off Wavell and bringing in Mountbatten as Viceroy, all time tables were shrunk and the de-colonisation process was given an expedient push and the sun finally set on the British Empire. Sir Hafiz Muhammad Hamidullah Khan Bahadhur who for all his manoeuvrings had been promised the Governor Generalship of Pakistan by his puppeteer Jinnah was left a broken man due to what he thought was treachery on the part of the British with whom the Princes were linked and bound by Paramountcy.@sandeep_bamzai
Sandeep Bamzai