August 8th marks a very iconic day in Indian history. The Indian National Congress declared its ultimatum for the British to leave India. This movement in itself had contested set of consequences – the strengthening of the Muslim League, the rise of freedom struggle motivated Subash Chandra Bose to invade the British camps in Noth East and Gandhi, for the fist time in his career was willing to go agressive even if he had his own definitions of the word – when he announced, “karo ya maro” (Do or Die).
The Quit India movement came up at the heels of the failure of the Cripps Mission that was sent by the Raj to secure Indian cooperation towards the British war efforts in the second world war. The leader of the mission, Sir S. Cripps was left wing British statesman who was sympathetic to the cause of Indian self rule but was also a member of the war cabinet of 1942.
The proposals of the mission were refused by the Congress which had seen similar proposals in the first world war where the Raj had promised more autonomy but ended up imposing harsher taxes that resulted in the Non-Cooperation movement, the Rowlatt and Jalia Walah Bagh massacres. The Indian National Congress resigned from its positions in all provincial governments and announced the Quit India Resolution that led a national movement that was difficult for the British to look after in the face of the then ongoing second world war. Virtually all of the INC leaders were jailed for the next three years and the Muslim league got enough time to build itself a support that shook the years Gandhi had spent projecting himself and his colleagues as leaders of a secular, united state of India. To add to it was the vehement opposition Hindu nationalists showed to the movement where many, including the Hindu Mahasabha and Veer Savarakar denounced the movement pointing out to the power vacuum it might cause and quite correctly predicitng the Muslim League partially filling the same.
The British soon left the subcontinent – too weak due to the war to control a population that was showing both civil disobedience and had an army of its own – a reference to the insurgency and attacks the INA had started in the Raj’s territories.
The Quit India movement – with all its pros and cons and consequences formed a very important phase in the history of modern India.